Renewable Energy – Lesson 8 – Living Off the Grid

March 16th, 2010 | by ADMIN |

Considering the current state of the economy, it is no surprise that a significant amount of people are doing everything they can to cut costs and to save money. Traditional cost cutting methods include downsizing vehicles, cutting out vacations, buying cheaper food, eating out less and so forth. However, a growing number of people are turning to alternative and renewable energy to save money.

Advances in technology have made renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power much more efficient, affordable and viable for the average person. In some cases, people take using renewable energy to provide the electricity to their homes to the next step, disconnecting from their local electrical service and going entirely off the grid.

Living off the grid is not a step to be taken impulsively or rashly, but rather one to be well thought out and planned for. If one lives in the country and has the space and ability to install a very large wind generator, then going off the grid on wind power could work. However, living off the grid on solar power is a much more realistic and safe route to take. Modern solar panels are very efficient and can now provide significant amounts of power even on a cloudy day.

Living off the grid on solar power is possible with discipline and the correct preparation. Converting to a tankless hot water heater is an important preparation to going off the grid. Heating water with an electric or even a gas hot water heater is very expensive. Tankless heaters are dramatically more efficient and reduce the electric load. Another important preparation for living off the grid is to get set up to dry clothes on a clothes line to avoid using the clothes dryer. The dryer uses a huge amount of electricity to get the clothes dry. This is easy to do outdoors in the summer, and there are many types of drying wracks available to dry the clothes on indoors in the winter.

Yet another preparation to living off the grid is to replace all the light bulbs in the house with energy efficient fluorescent bulbs. Lastly, one should make every effort to make the house airtight, so heat and cold are retained and do not leak out or in the house due to old inefficient window, unsealed doors, and improperly insulated walls. Make sure there is good weather stripping around all doors and windows and make sure there is an efficient programable thermostat installed.

Living off the grid with solar power is certainly possible, but it requires some important preparations to make sure that the house is as energy efficient as possible since there is no backup source of power once the solar cells have been depleted between charges. The preparation and installation of the system can be expensive initially, but living off the grid saves so much money in electrical bills that these costs are often recovered withing the first two years of being off the grid.

David J Hughes

Post a Comment