You don’t have to be a green living fanatic to be familiar with the term “off the grid.” It’s used in a variety of contexts, but what does living off the grid mean? Believe it or not, it’s not just someone who doesn’t have a Facebook page. The term refers to homes or systems that have no connection to the utility grid and generate all electrical needs on-site. People do this for a number of reasons including concern for the environment, reducing carbon footprints, cost effectiveness, or the desire to be independent of utility providers to be more self-reliant. Such homes produce their own energy through alternative energy sources such as solar power, wind, or hydro resources.
You don’t have to quit the grid cold turkey, however. If you’re even slightly interested in how to go off the grid or using less fossil fuel energy, there are plenty of baby steps you can take to start a transition toward using more alternative energy sources. You can begin by reducing your current dependence on utility electricity by following the simple steps below. After working these new practices and more into your routine, you can better decide if investing in alternative energy sources, like home solar power, is right for you. When you’re ready to compare pricing on residential solar power systems, simply fill out the form at the bottom of this post to receive more information. Start to unplug today with the steps below!
1. Power down. It may sound simple, but you can start to make it a constant practice to turn off lights, computers, appliances, and anything that uses electricity when they’re not in use. This will significantly lesson your power usage on a daily basis and it’s so easy to do. Most electrical items use power as long as they’re plugged in, so use power strips to cut off the electricity fully.
2. Do your dishes. Pick up some rubber gloves at the store and save on your water usage by hand-washing dishes. When you do need to run the dishwasher, skip the dry cycle and allow them to air dry. And of course, only run the dishwasher when it’s completely filled.
3. Home heating. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, home heating accounts for approximately 40% of energy consumption. Reduce your dependence on electrical heat in whichever ways are best for your family. You can install a programmable thermostat to turn down the temperature when you’re away and at night to save a ton of energy. Or utilize wood burning fireplaces or stoves for heat, which give off more heat than gas.
4. Collect rainwater. Reduce the amount of water that has to be extracted and processed in water treatment plants by collecting rainwater. The water you gather is great for watering your yard, washing cars, or as an indoor water source after proper filtration. You can build your own rainwater collection system or simply use watering cans to collect water. Be sure to use collected water quickly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
5. Set up a clothesline. One of the biggest drains on your monthly electric bill is most likely your clothes dryer. Odds are you also use some type of dryer sheets (which are full of chemicals) to give clothes a nice fresh scent. But you can get that spring smell for free by setting up your own clothesline and drying clothes the old fashioned way! If you’re going through a rainy season, install one inside alternatively and enjoy the cost savings.
You may be surprised at how much energy you can save with these practices, and there are many more ways to increase your energy efficiency at home. If you’ve caught the sustainable living bug, you may want to further invest in this type of lifestyle with renewable energy resources like home solar power. Solar power is a clean and inexhaustible form of energy that can be used to power most of your electrical needs at home and ultimately save you money and protect the environment.