Some Steps I’m Taking To Go Off-Grid
In today’s high paced, high-tech world, many of us yearn for the calm simple life, yet how many actually take steps to achieve it? For me, the idea of retiring and moving from my suburban house to a small homestead, transitioned into trying to retire early and be as self-sufficient as possible. Part of this self-sufficiency journey includes going off grid.
Now, mind you, I am not a “country girl” by any means. I grew up in a suburb of Detroit where I still live. Until only recently, my idea of “off grid” meant no Wi-Fi at the resort where I was on vacation! My mother, however, grew up on a farm and is an avid gardener to this day, so I was exposed to the homestead lifestyle a bit in my childhood. I remember visiting my grandfather’s farm as a child and being astonished when he pulled up a plant to reveal peanuts!
How does one go from “city slicker” to off grid homesteader? Well, it’s been a gradual process for sure. Nearly 20 years ago (wow!) a tornado touched down near where I was living at the time. The resultant damage and subsequent power outage lasted around a week. Then came the infamous Northeast Blackout of 2003.
These instances along with other smaller power outages made me realize how precarious our power grid is. During this time I also started delving deeper into the general frailty of many of the things we take for granted, like the food supply chains which sparked in me an interest in learning to grow vegetables (yes my mother nearly passed out!)
To my surprise, I really enjoyed this and have been increasing my gardens, learning more and more homestead skills. Obviously I am not off grid or even on my dream homestead yet. But I am taking this time to learn and to wean myself off my dependency on the power grid. This has been a win-win situation in many ways, the most obvious being the decreased utility bill!
What steps are you taking to go off-grid? Share with us below in the comments!
Written by Tasha Perry
Here are a few tips to help you start on your off-grid journey
or just help you lower your bills.
A few years ago, the little girl that lives next door to me came home from school with an Earth Day contest her class was having. It basically was whoever could sign up the most people to try to reduce their utility usage and whoever lowered their bill the most would win. Well, since she is my Girl Scout cookie dealer- I mean source- I agreed. And of course, being the competitive creature that I am, we had to win! She won, by the way, and I cut my bill nearly in half. It was low enough that the utility company actually came out to check my meter!
How did I pull this off? Did I move to a cave and live a miserable existence? Not at all. It was actually surprisingly easy and will help me decrease my utility usage in the long term as well as my dependence on the grid so when I do get my dream homestead my transition to off-grid living will be relatively seamless.
The first thing I did was start turning lights off. No, I didn’t sit in the dark, although a few of my friends teased me about doing just that. I usually had multiple lamps on in my bedroom even when I wasn’t in there and would leave them on all evening. That was easy! I wasn’t even in the room so I didn’t notice the change at all. I have a lamp in the living room on a timer (security and all that- I am a city girl after all). I changed the timer to turn on a bit later and to turn off an hour earlier. I was already in bed so it didn’t need to be on until midnight. Again, a change that didn’t affect me at all. As the days grew longer I kept changing the timer to come on later.
Next thing- I turned down my hot water tank-it was set so high that it was always too hot anyway! I just never really thought about it. My tank is a gas heater, not electric, but I count it as part of my “off grid” experience. The only thing I noticed was the decreased utility bill- it’s still plenty warm. Now in my quest to lower my bill and win the Earth Day challenge I started washing my clothes in cold water. I still use the washing machine I’m not that hardcore! At least not yet. My clothes still come out perfectly clean
I also started unplugging my washer and dryer when they aren’t in use. Other than my phone charger these are the only things I unplug. I still leave my TV and cable box in when I’m not using them, yes, I know about vampire power and all that, honestly, I just keep forgetting and when I’m actually off-grid these items will probably be non-existent.
By now my bill has gotten low enough I’m getting obsessed. The weather has gotten warm and what’s an aspiring off-grid homesteader to do? Why line dry your clothes of course! I bought one retractable clothesline from Amazon, conned my boyfriend into hanging it and voila! It was actually kinda fun- so much so I bought another clothesline and had him hang a second line! I hang my “unmentionables” on a drying rack downstairs-I am still in the city after all! I have clothes lines hung in the basement for use in the winter. Yes, the towels are a bit rougher than if I used the dryer, but I just pretend that I am at a hotel; their towels are always a bit scratchy too!
I am a microwave girl from way back and I drink tea every morning which I microwave my water for. I am impatient and don’t want to wait for the water to heat up on the stove. My off-grid workaround? I boil a kettle of water the night before and put the boiling water in an insulated carafe overnight. By the morning it’s the perfect temperature for me to have my tea.
As you can see while none of these actions completely removes my use of electricity, it has greatly reduced my need for it with very little effort. By decreasing my reliance on traditional utilities I will be able to continue my lifestyle when I do go off-grid with what power I will be able to generate on my own. Better for me, better for the planet. Win-win!
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