There is a certain appeal in going off the grid. Particularly when we are talking about the energy grid. After comparing energy prices you may ask yourself why pay high electric bills in California or pay natural gas companies in Florida when you could possibly generate all of your own power, and perhaps even resell it to the utilities? Well, there are definitely challenges to that approach. But if you are enthusiastic about green energy, energy alternatives, and have the will and the resources, then there are definitely also some different alternatives to consider when it comes to generating off grid power for your home.
Depending on where you live, you have probably heard either a lot about the advantages and opportunities of solar energy, or nothing at all. That is because, realistically, solar energy is not a viable option for most people. That’s simply because of the weather: it takes an environment with a lot of sun to be able to power a home with solar energy, and even then, it takes a roof with a good deal of sun exposure to be able to harness it. That is unless you have the space and resources to install a ground fixture, which only some people do.
If you do live somewhere with a lot of sun, say in the southwest or Florida, then solar energy may be right for you. But there are some factors you’ll want to consider. First of all, let’s recognize that a lot of people go solar without going off the grid; in many states they have subsidized lease programs where you can have solar panels installed on your roof for zero money down, allowing you to save every month on your electricity bills. That’s great, but you’ll still have an electric bill, and the solar company will still own the power you generate.
If you really want to go off the grid, you have to buy your own solar panels (and be responsible for their maintenance). That isn’t cheap. If it’s purely an economic decision on your part, you’ll want to recognize the fact that it really only makes sense as a very long term investment…it might easily take over 20 years to recoup your money depending on how much sunlight you get and how much electricity you use. But if you live in the right place, have the right setup, and can afford it, then it can be a key component to personal energy independence!
There are places in the world, such as the Netherlands and other northern European countries, where wind power is a very important part of the energy economy. Of course, that is possible for them because they get a lot of wind. Actually, there are places in the United States that get a good deal of wind, too, such as the mid-west, but elsewhere as well. Should you be in such a place that gets enough wind to make using wind power a possibility, however, there are some other things you’ll want to consider.
For one, you will have to invest in a wind turbine. That means you will have to be able to afford it, and you will have to have space to put it. Generally, a wind turbine capable of powering an entire home, say a 900 watt turbine, will use a rotor that is about seven feet in diameter. They get quite a bit bigger and a little smaller than that, depending on what your needs are. But before you take that plunge, check with your local weather service to see what the average wind speed is in your area. From there you can calculate how much electricity you will generate and how much money you will save, measured against the cost of the investment of course.
You may be excited about green energy and off the grid energy alternatives. But one of the most environmentally friendly approaches to developing an off the grid energy lifestyle is just good old fashioned energy conservation. Look at ways you can comfortable modify your life to reduce consumption. Simple modifications and retrofits to your home, such as insulation, ventilation, and other things can reduce your need to turn on lights, to use eat, and other things that represent significant energy expenditures. No matter what you do, let efficient energy consumption be a part of your approach to establishing your path to energy freedom!