Off the Grid: 5 Reasons it’s Better than I thought

By Matt Valzania

SunsetMoving off the grid is a big step in anyone’s life, and it’s one that comes with unexpected surprises. These include collecting enough water to keep one’s body hygienically acceptable, and scampering down to the local rural post office, since nobody delivers to an address way out in the boonies.

Moving off the grid, you can expect to save on your utility bills. The big unknown is just how much you will save, which can be dependent upon what level you unplug. One thing to consider is that every year, the cost of varying utilities will undoubtedly rise from year to year to account for inflation, infrastructure improvements and, of course, CEO salaries. In contrast, once you make your initial investment in off-the-grid equipment, whether it be solar, wind, water recovery, etc., you have locked in that cost. When you spread the cost over a set period of time, say 10 years, the cost stays the same, barring any major repairs or maintenance

Here are some fun, additional facts about solar power from

  1. Homeowners, on average, can get a better return on investment (ROI) from going solar than from the S&P 500 stock index (considered a very good investment) in more than 25 percent of states. Yes, solar beats the S&P 500 for millions of people.
  2. In two-thirds of states, solar offers a better average ROI than 30-year treasury bonds.
  3. In 86 percent of states, your likely solar ROI beats a 5-year certificate of deposit (CD).
  4. In only one state, a solar investment won’t earn you money (based on the assumptions used in the 2013 Geostellar Solar Index). That state? Believe it or not, it’s the southern state of Mississippi. The 25-year return on investment there is projected to equal -0.1%.

Systems PhotosDepending on what your lifestyle was like prior to moving off the grid, if it’s anything like most Americans this day and age, it’s probably full of normal life stuff topped off with hours television. Every day, countless hours are wasted sitting in front of the TV or on the Internet, which in the end soak up huge portions of your day and leave little room for other entertainment. After moving off the grid, more than likely, your TV habit will be kicked. Not only will you be more mindful of your power consumption and desire less TV, you’ll enjoy a different mindset. No longer will you care about Kim Kardashian’s latest outfit or which pair is winning Amazing Race. Instead, you’re more likely to spend your time outside landscaping or tending your garden. If you have a family, more time could be spent playing board games or cooking meals as a family.

Another huge benefit of living off the grid is a bountiful garden, especially if you designed your home with this concept in mind. One of the concepts commonly used in the Earthship style of off-the-grid housing is to have the homes’ gray water drains plumb through planting beds found within the home. The perforated plumbing allows the gray water to leach through the plant beds feeding and watering the plants without really using any excess water. The leftover water drains into a collection system and is reused in toilets and other places. This setup can produce year-round fruits and vegetables.

Another unexpected benefit is the hassle-free lifestyle of not having to deal with your utility companies. Of course, you no longer have to deal with massive outages during storms, but also not having to push your schedule around so that you can be around for a visiting utility worker. By having your own power and water systems, you are in full control.

Last, living almost self-sustainably is a great accomplishment. One of the big attractions of living off the grid is that with the right systems in place, you can rely completely on yourself to provide what you need to survive. Plus, it’s not like living as a mountain hillbilly. Modern power systems provide enough electricity for normal appliances and amenities, and water efficient fixtures reduce consumption levels. Plus, house gardens can contribute to a healthy diet.

We’d love to hear if any of our customers already off the grid, and what benefits they have experienced.

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