When people hear â€˜living off the grid,â€™ they imagine Clint Eastwood with a cigar and a Colt .45, telling a ruffian off, â€˜Get off my property, punk!â€™ However, the truth is that there are many farmers and ranchers way friendlier than Clint who have been living off the grid. This is not only to ensure the sustenance of farming practice but also to help maintain an urban-rural balance.
While ranchers and farmers have always had no problems living off the grid, there is a new wave of millennial folks who are toeing this line. People do have this fantasy of living off the grid, and the only reason why they give up the idea is because they think it would involve spending crazy amounts of money. In a way, they are both right and wrong. Right because you do have to invest considerable time in the project. But the monetary investment, on the other hand, depends totally on the choices for the materials to build the house, the outhouse, the pool, among others.
People living off the grid mostly like to build the house with their hands, preferring to go the organic way. This means less use of propane or other renewable fuels. This means using recycling stuff like the fiberglass baths that are sold for a dime a dozen because people in the 1970s absolutely wanted it, and nobody does anymore. This means converting folding patio doors into solar panels because the sunâ€™s energy, is um, free? (Of course, the solar panels are a small investment, but in the long run, the cost-benefit analysis shows a huge uptick)
So, if you are someone who is about to go off the grid, you can read on to find cost-saving measures when you go on that farm to build your house. Even if you are a rancher who knows a bit about living off the grid, you could still read and get some information you can use:
1-Myths about Solar Panels-Busted
Now, solar panels may be a clean source of energy we can rely on, sure. However, they are far from being the most efficient. In fact, many farmers and ranchers these days prefer thermal sources like the Sun oven to solar panels. Most of the folks these days have a combination of solar power, hydro power (thanks to a generator spinning in the creek nearby), and thermal power sources. For most houses off the grid, 4 kW per day should be more than enough. (an average American household consumes 8 kW per day)
2-Being frugal helps
You can get stuff like old solar hot water panels from craigslist. Yes, you might have missed that when you were looking for that clever Ikea furniture. You can use the wood from rafters that wash up ashore and are left to fend for themselves. You could also consider raw cedar poles (or any other suitable type of wood) that are blown down from other places, a friendâ€™s property, for instance. You can even use wooden pieces to design the tap and water faucets. And mind you, you are using recycled wood and wood is a carbon-neutral resource.
3-Be aware of the legislation
Many folks might think Yurt when they think of an enclosed space for living off the grid, but court-approved houses might require more structure. You will have to check if your County allows the kind of house you would like to build and then move forward. Check the minimum dimensions of the doors and windows necessary in this house. Check on the time style of doors: word on the web is that farmers and rangers these days prefer folding patio doors.
Other Energy (and money) saving hacks
You could get a chest freezer to work on the thermostat, and voila, you have a refrigerator, working on very little electricity. For the wintertime, you could and should use a woodfire cookstove (1940s type possibly), which is going to be the heartbeat of that house you legally got clearance for. With flue pipes and copper coils, you could easily heat water as well and reduce the necessity of any further wastage of energy to obtain hot water.
Cedar is the best construction material there is for constructing workshops, storage houses, or just guest houses in the woods. One frugal way to ensure the quality of lumber is to collect logs that wash ashore rivers during winter.
Being a ranger or a farmer is a matter of pride more than anything else. It is because you have your own ranch, your own farm and you are living an independent life, off the grid. The only catch is some folks are more responsible than the others: they refrain from using propane-based energy sources and try to incorporate renewable resources instead.
Please note that some of the hacks require expertise in carpentry. If you are not an experienced carpenter yourself or if you have less experience in building projects, please feel free to engage a carpenter.