Pros and Cons of Living Off the Grid

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Many people have romantic notions about what it means to live off of the power grid. Here are a few pros and cons for alternative living.

Living Off Of The Grid Pros

1. No building codes. Building codes are based on decision by a community’s government  protect the health and safety of people from the environment. However, problems  arise when the building codes interfere with the rights of individual citizens.

The government may not be as concerned about the effects of construction on the planet’s environment. If building codes aren’t an issue, a greener, more frugal, experimental housing plan
may be used. And no building codes mean you  are free to use your land to raise animals and to grow a garden.

2. No dependency on the power grid. If the power goes out in a city, the citizens are at the mercy of repair crews. However, living off of the grid (as in power grid) may use alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, and often can be accomplished as a DIY project. Thus reducing your dependency on the frail power grid.

You may say, “Sign me up for that!” But what are you really agreeing to?

Living Off Of The Grid Cons

1. Sewage regulations. Even in areas without building codes, you’ll probably run into sewage regulations. Allowable off grid options include septic tanks with buried leach fields and open-­air lagoon pits. Composting toilets are acceptable in many regions. Personal septic systems require ongoing maintenance and inspections to keep them functioning correctly.

Going off­ grid can be an expensive proposition if you try to replace all the modern amenities (running water, flushable toilets, washer/dryer) and most people prefer their amenities.

2. Clean water source. A site with a reliable water supply is essential to off ­grid living, and prospective landowners. If you’re buying land, you’ll still need a reliable water source. Can a stipulation to include the use of potable water?

3. Property taxes. I don’t know of any vicinity that doesn’t collect property taxes, unless you rent the land from someone else. Make sure you know what the property taxes are and the permits necessary to build a home, if that is permissible.

Consider this, will you have the legal right to use any existing roads, paths or waterways to reach your land? If you do not have access to water or road ways, then consider another plot of land.

Is living off the grid for you? What could you live with or without? Could you sacrifice those
things you take for granted everyday such as running water, electricity for all your electronics,
electric lights?

We want to hear your comments below!

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What is Living Off the Grid?

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Cam and Heather Mather live off the grid in Ontario, CA on Sunflower Farm. Courtesy of MotherEarthNews.com

Many people are interested in “living off the grid” or homesteading as a greener way of life. Homesteading is broadly defined as a lifestyle of self­-sufficiency.

It may include any of the following:

  • Hobby farming,

  • Home preservation of foodstuffs,

  • Small scale production of textiles or clothing, and

  • Craft work for household use or sale.

Living off the grid is defined as having a home that could conceivably survive in the event that our civilization collapses. This may sound a bit apocalyptic, but it’s not just conspiracy theorists who choose homesteading as a way of life.

Who would choose to live off the grid?

  • Environmentalists,

  • Farmers,

  • Those with an independent mindset and

  • Other people who want to have a simple lifestyle.

Living off the grid means having a home that does not rely on public utilities. This sounds like an attractive option to people who love to homestead or do not want to rely on the high cost of gas and electricity.  It is a choice to reduce energy consumption and live in a more natural setting.

Where could one live off the grid?

The most likely places to live off the grid are homes in the country due to fewer zoning laws and more space. A plot of land is needed that can conceivably allow for alternative wind and solar energy. You may need to purchase a home unless a home is inherited or you buy a more affordable and portable living space (mobile home or shipping container home).

People who are most likely to live well off the grid don’t mind hard work and sacrifice. Homesteading requires a spirit of independence.  Also, commitment to lifelong learning is essential.  One day you are fixing your power source, the next day the plumbing, another day might include tending to a sick animal. A willingness to learn as you go is needed unless money is no object.

Why would you want to live off the grid?

For many, living off the grid is a sustainable way of life. It is their own, personal commitment to a greener way of life.  When solar and wind energy are used, it decreases the dependence on fossil fuels and reduces your carbon footprint.

A lot of people love the idea of the challenges that living off the grid offers.  Every day there’s something new to learn:

  • How to grow a garden,

  • How to preserve food,

  • How to care for livestock,

  • How to generate and store energy, water, heat, etc.

Many people grow enough of their own food and rarely go to a grocery store.

For many people, homesteading is a good way to be friendly to the environment and it’s a relief not to rely on overworked utility companies to meet their needs.

But it’s not for everyone.

In the next article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of living off the grid.

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Home Canning: Better Quality Food on a Budget

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Home canning is experiencing a resurgence as an increasing amount of people want to know what’s in their food and want to be good stewards of the environment, but they are on a budget. If you are interested, there is an initial investment (to buy jars, lids, canner, etc) and time too, then home canning just might be for you.

Everything in home canning is reusable, except the food and the lids.  This helps the environment since there is less waste for landfills. The practical benefit is that after the initial investment, you’ll save more by spending less on canning supplies in the future.

What Canning Supplies Do I Need?

Jars: The jars you can get at little or no cost.  I found my canning jars from my mother-in-law who rarely uses them.  There may be someone close to you that would love to give you the canning jars from their basement, maybe even give you some tips.  Try buying jars at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets for even less than retail.

Bands and Lids: In retail stores, the bands and lids are about $12 for a twelve pack (depending on the jar size). The lids themselves are around $6 for twelve.

Canner: The biggest investment is the canner, which is around $20 – ­$100 depending if you want a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner.  If you just want to can high acid foods like tomatoes, jams, and jellies, then a boiling water bath canner is for you.  However, I would suggest the pressure canner because you can preserve both high and low acid foods as it doubles as a boiling water bath canner.  I know this is expensive; however, they are made to last several lifetimes and you can always buy it on layaway.

Miscellaneous: You will also need the Ball Blue Book or Putting Food By ($6­ – $14) and a basic canning utensil kit ($8­ – $12).  All of the mentioned canning paraphernalia will last quite a few years if you take care of them properly.

 

I’ll be writing more how-to’s of home canning as well as other homesteading articles! What are your experiences with canning food?

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