Have you tried living without the benefit of an electrical service? What about growing your vegetables and raising livestock right in your back yard? And your kids unplugged from the internet?
That is what is called living a life off-the-grid. You’ve seen this TV show where families try for about two weeks to live in a big house where a generator powers lights. Vast lands surround them with lush vegetation with chickens and pigs roaming around. The idea of the show is to test the family if they can indeed make the transition from living in a big city with all its amenities to living off-the-grid without, among others, electricity. You and your family currently live in Salt Lake City, and like in the TV show, you are considering the possibility of living off-the-grid. So how does one do it? What does one need to know to be able to make an informed decision?
Here are a few things for you to consider:
A Brief Background
Electricity isn’t the only amenity you would be missing when you go off the grid. You would also be missing other utilities like water, natural gas, sewer, and heat. This means that you have to depend on a well to get water and a generator, which typically runs on some form of renewable energy (e.g., biodiesel) to power up many of the things in the house that requires electricity.
More than 180,000 families are estimated to be living off the grid in America (2013). Globally the number could reach an estimated 1.7 billion people. In extreme cases, some live entirely without electricity.
The Why and What You Need to Do
It’s probably not a very good idea for you and your family if you are doing it to follow a fad. Different people have different reasons for going off the grid. Some are farming marijuana for medicinal purposes, some are end-of-the-world preppers, and some are doing it for the sake of the environment. Make sure that your decision takes into account the sentiments of everyone in the family. Here the other things you need to consider.
- Legal issues. You bought a large property with a house and lots of trees and open spaces. You can do anything that you want on that land because it’s your property, right? Wrong! Growing your vegetables and raising chickens and goats, those are all fine and legal. Be aware, however, that there are ordinances and zoning laws imposed by the city. Camping, for example, is considered illegal, if you do it for beyond two weeks. So check local and state ordinances before selecting your property.
- Stay connected. You’re not leaving civilization altogether. Plus, if you have kids who would suddenly require medical attention, you need to be able to send a signal to the world. Invest in a satellite phone so that you can get in touch with essential agencies in cases of emergencies. If you’re still doing work for your company based in the city, and they require you to check-in, you would also need a satellite Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Water is a must. Understand the benefits of rainwater. You can use it to clean your car and your house. Make sure that you take into consideration the development of rainwater collection in your property.
Going green is a noble cause if this is your rationale for living off the grid. Be ready to face challenges, like how to handle your waste disposal or getting necessary supplies from stores that are far away. Make sure that you are solidly committed to the decision.