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A home built by 'off-grid' pioneer, architect Todd Bogatay, sits on a hillside near Bisbee, Arizona.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced. Living off the grid is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason: it brings you to a world of simplicity and survival, but in a way of comfort that those who live off-grid absolutely love. Off-grid living basically means being, well, pretty disconnected from electricity (and because of that, to some, society). One essential thing to note is that most people and families who are living off the grid still have light… but only when it is essential.
In general, living dedicated to self-sufficiency and reducing your reliance on the non-renewable resources can help the environment. If you’re planning on moving towards off-grid living, check out our article Tips for Living Off-the-Grid, covering everything from food and drink, to water, to emergency preparedness kits. Keep yourself up to date, with what is going on in the Ecoki Community by subscribing to the Ecoki RSS Feed. Another consideration you must make is how much power you use, and that most likely during nighttime hours, you will not have any power generation unless the wind is blowing if all you have are solar panels and a wind turbine with no power storage device. It’s also a good idea to have a back up gas or preferably bio-diesel powered generator. Living off the grid can be expensive to get started and will take lots of hard work on you part to keep it going. Comments commentsFiled Under: DIY, Energy, Homesteading, Sustainable Living About Off Grid WorldAll about off grid living, living off the grid, sustainable living, homesteading, prepping, survival, solar power, wind power, renewable energy, permaculture, hydroponics, recycling, DIY projects, and natural building. Once on the fringe, about 750,000 off the grid American households pioneer green living by tapping sustainable energy from the wind, sun, and earth. Green living: Bill and Paula Cirone have sacrificed no modern comfort in their new wind- and solar-powered home, which is completely off the grid and powered with sustainable energy from wind turbines and solar panels. He admitted that she had the right to live without utility power, but said that her alternative power sources must always first be approved by the city.
Speronis explains that she has won on two of three counts already, but there is still a big fight ahead of her.
He argues, however, that he has an obligation to enforce the code. Still, he acknowledges that some of the charges against her are unfounded.
The International Property Maintenance Code is still being used by cities throughout the United States and Canada.
And it also is generally self-enlightening, as people realize the power of living simplify. Using one or two eco-friendly items, such as a low-energy computer for Internet, television, movies, and streaming radio, allows for versatility without being over run with multiple large, energy-sucking electronics.
And once you’re off grid, the maintenance and upkeep of your homestead takes a lot of work. You will most likely not have access to city water or municipal county water sources on your land so you must choose a piece of land which either has a natural water source, or where it’s convenient to haul water. Since you most likely will not have everyday access to grocery stores and convenience stores to shop for your food, you’ll have to grow your own in your own garden or greenhouse.
Since you will not be connected to the power grid, you will need to be able to generate electricity yourself. To do this, look on the back or underside of your electronic devices and there should be a label or placard which details the wattage and amperage each device uses. I personally would choose to have battery backups rather than rely solely on the power coming direct from the solar panels and wind turbine. Hall, an outdoor-skills instructor, and his wife, Alicia Bliss Hall, a natural healer, live in a kind of off-the-grid neighborhood with another young couple: Jason Brake, a professional muralist, and his wife, Diana Styffeler, a mountain bike excursion leader.
But unplugging from municipal services has been ruled illegal by a court in Cape Coral, Florida. Eskin ruled that Robin Speronis is not allowed to live on her own private property without being hooked up to the city’s water system. The IPMC also would make it a crime for her to use solar panels instead of being tied into the electric grid. It doesn’t mean living in darkness once the sun goes down, or only burning candles to have some light in the early mornings. Move to the woods, build a cabin, throw on some solar panels and wind turbine for power, drill a well, raise chickens, cows, and pigs, and sit on your front porch while sipping coffee and staring out at the beautiful natural wilderness around you.
Let make this as simple as possible by breaking it down into a step by step process which explain the most important things you need.
Shelter comes in the form of a cabin, a traditional wood frame home,a tiny house, cob house, strawbale or even a yurt which is basically a large octagonal shaped tent.

Ideally it’s probably wise to have both a traditional garden, some raised beds, and a greenhouse full of fruits and veggies.
This means having a power generating system with backups that can provide you with all the electricity you will need to run all your appliances, stove, refrigerator, washing machine, tv, computer, and charge your cell phone and other mobile devices. Now take all those numbers, add them up, and that will give you a good idea on how much power you might use during any given 24hour period. If you have the money, a good battery power storage system is worth it’s weight in gold.
Their two cabins, nestled in temperate rain forest, are powered with electricity that comes exclusively from solar panels mounted on a wagon that they wheel around the property to catch the best rays. It all goes back to the basics and living a sustainable life while being self-sufficient is key. This seems obvious but and technically speaking you don’t actually need a vacant piece of land, but to go off grid you do need a parcel of land that lends itself to your new lifestyle choice and that means a parcel of land that is usually in a remote area in the middle of nowhere far enough from building codes and permitting regulations.
There are many different types of shelters and it’s a good idea to choose which type of shelter you will build or buy long before moving onto your land.
This could be something as simple as a rain-barrel water catchment attached to your home’s gutter, or a more complex cistern water collection system which collects all the rain water from your roof. Learning how to preserve and can your own food will also allow you to store your food away in a safe place and build up a nice supply of food in case you need it for an emergency. A few 250 Watt solar panels and a good 250-500 Watt wind turbine will probably suffice for most homes depending on how much power you use at once. Granted you most likely will not be using all your devices and appliances at once all day long, but it will help you in figuring out how much power in wattage you will need to generate and that will help you design your solar power system.
Using nature – the sun, wind, water, and the earth itself – they cheaply warm and cool their homes and power everything from a blender to a giant flat-screen TV to a raging hot tub. In turn, actual light source needs are reduced, and the sun helps warm the home, regardless of the weather outside.
Body weight routines and free weights can give a whole body workout, or the use of manual treadmills or stationary bikes can get some cardio in. Land in these areas are less expensive, property taxes are less, and you can get more acreage for your money.
So, if you plan on watching movies on Netflix or surfing the internet late at night, then you’re going to need a battery power storage system.
Besides the law, it’s just not sanitary to dump your waste into a hole and hope for the best. And with the constant concern about global warming and messy dependence on fossil fuels, it's natural that growing numbers of Americans – "the foot soldiers" of energy independence, as one expert calls them – would begin taking steps to untether themselves from the grid. They're installing a hydropower system in the stream that will add to the solar power.Their existence appears quite rustic – and the "sustainable" lifestyle depends a whole lot on them to sustain it with such work as wood chopping and wagon pulling.
Bike trainers are available, too, for avid cyclists if the weather is too poor to get outdoors. Typically four 250 Watt solar panels should be enough when coupled with a wind power system. This is where it gets expensive as battery technology is kind of lagging behind solar panel technology. The self sufficient lifestyle is at the heart of independence and with that independence comes responsibility not just for your lifestyle choice, but to you family and those depending on you.
But they say they have all the creature comforts they need, and – if February's record snowstorm is any gauge – some their neighbors need, too.
Using both power generation technologies will supplement your electricity production and they compliment one another. Batteries however are getting better and are able to store more electricity for longer periods of time more efficiently than ever before. Hall.• • •Off-the-grid living for Paula and William Cirone has a more suburban look and feel, as well as a different motive. They are not cheap, and the battery bank and storage system complete with charge controller, inverter, etc. Many folks opt out of purchasing a battery storage system because it could double the cost of any solar power system. Their hearts were set on buying and building on woodland near Farmington that he had hunted and fished two decades before. But an issue over easements meant the utility company could not extend lines to connect to their new home.
Cirone was initially nervous, not wanting to give up her comfortable lifestyle – being able to throw in a load of laundry, or flip on the TV or microwave, whenever she felt like it. But the Cirones built a comfortable, spacious home powered entirely by wind and solar energy, with a geothermal system for heating and cooling."It was a little scary at first, wondering if this was all going to work," says Ms.

In an age of extreme economic insecurity plus concern about the effects of using fossil fuels – witness the BP oil spill and a host of recent coal-mining disasters – living off the grid gives people a feeling of structural, financial, and emotional independence. It liberates them from the grip of government regulators and utility companies – not to mention reducing their utility costs, after the initial investment is paid off. And it hints at the potential of a different energy future, free of the environmental and social costs of using fossil fuels.Mr. Rosen estimates that the number of people living off the grid in the US is growing by about 10 percent per year. For others, going off the grid is an intentional part of "downscaling to a simpler existence," as Rosen puts it.Most clean-energy experts don't see off-grid living as the solution to the nation's energy crisis.
Hall figures that once the hydropower system is finished on his property, he will have invested about $15,000 on energy systems. Most North Carolinians spend several hundred dollars a month for electricity, water, and heat.
So the Halls will have paid off their investment in a decade.Cirone says he doesn't expect to see a financial payoff anytime soon on his $100,000 investment in higher-end, higher-capacity systems, but the nonmonetary benefits are many. Their two sons, an electrical engineer and a doctoral student with an energy focus, are so enthused about the potential of off-the-grid living that they are launching a renewable-energy consulting company."There's a lot more return on investment than just money," Cirone says. We hope this proves to anyone who even considers [going off the grid] that if you don't want to give up anything in your lifestyle, you can use alternative energy and still have all the amenities you want."• • •Solar energy is the most popular and fastest-growing way to generate your own power.
Improving technology, a glut of solar panels on the world market caused, in part, by the end of European subsidies that had driven production, and American government incentives mean solar power is an increasingly affordable option.
San Diego, like some other cities, has started a program to lend money to home-owners for the purchase of solar panels, with loan payments added to the property tax over 20 years.Though the Southwest and South are solar hot spots, studies show it is a viable option in seemingly gloomy locales like the upper Midwest and the Northeast. Homes typically use "small wind" power – with turbines that generate less than 10 kilowatts. But "small wind" is not a new concept – wind power has been harnessed for hundreds, if not thousands of years, for such things as transportation, milling, and pumping water. The "small wind" market grew 15 percent in 2009 despite the recession, says Ron Stimmel, small systems manager for the American Wind Energy Association. The five-kilowatt turbines needed to power an average home range from 30 to 140 feet tall and cost about $30,000. Turbines that produce less than one kilowatt – to supplement solar panels or electricity from the grid – can cost less than $10,000.Wind turbines aren't as easily suited to a wide range of buildings and geographic locations as solar panels, because they usually require up to an acre of space, unobstructed by tall buildings, hillsides, or trees.
Wind turbines can be mounted on roofs or parapets – as in the Bronx apartment complex featured on page 29 – but only if the structure is strong enough. Zoning restrictions can make it difficult to install wind turbines, so proponents are pushing for wind-friendly codes.And generating one's own electricity isn't the only way to bypass or reduce dependence on commercial utilities. In many homes, a large amount of electricity is used to run air conditioners, and electricity, natural gas, or oil is used for heating. The simplest way is through architecture that naturally keeps the home at a stable temperature, as John Sagebiel's home near Reno, Nev., featured on page 30, demonstrates.
Windows are placed to maximize sunshine exposure when desired, and thick concrete floors and walls hold heat. Recently developed "smart" windows and drywall even react to the temperature outside by keeping heat out or drawing heat in.Geothermal energy is a high-tech, relatively expensive way to heat and cool a home. But for individual homes, geothermal cooling and heating systems pump water through underground pipes that heat or cool the water to the constant temperature of approximately 55 degrees F.
There are different models, but all essentially rely on fluid circulated through tubing that can be installed up to about 200 feet deep vertically, or horizontally about 10 feet deep and roughly as wide as the property.
In winter, the fluid is warmed below the earth, then heats air using a compressor and standard technology known as the refrigeration cycle. In summer, the cycle is reversed so heat is essentially extracted from the home and sunk back into the earth.In relatively soft or sandy soil, pipes for a geothermal system can be run horizontally or in a variety of loops.
On top of hard bedrock, one must drill down – a more expensive proposition – to create a "standing column" system where fluid is circulated through a vertical cylinder with a "riser pipe" in the middle. As it has become more economically practical, geothermal systems also have gained "cachet" as a status symbol, says Andrew Collins of the New York City firm P.A. The firm has designed geothermal systems at the new Liberty Island Retail Pavilion and for upscale homes in Tribeca, the Upper East Side, and on Long Island.Meanwhile, on or off the grid, experts say the cleanest, cheapest energy is the energy not generated at all. Weatherizing a home is the best thing for the environment and the wallet."It's great to have geothermal or photovoltaic [solar], but we like to stress you don't need those technologies to have a real energy-efficient home," says Nate Kredich of the US Green Building Council.

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