Many people dream of being totally self-sufficient and going off the grid. A life free of the monthly bill payments seems out of reach for most people, but is it really? Does it mean that you have to live in a yurt in the mountains and read books by candlelight? Must you invest $20,000 in solar components for the top of your home and another $10,000 revamping your plumbing to work solely on rainwater?
Not at all. You can begin now to slowly altering your way of life to live more self-reliantly and in the process, begin to start simplifying your lifestyle through gradually going off the grid by reducing your dependence on electricity, heat at the turn of a thermostat dial, and municipal services.
Practice Makes Perfect
As with all things “prepper” you need to practice living in an off grid environment. A great way to do this is with a family “off-grid” weekend. You can either turn off the main breaker to the house or shut off individual breakers, leaving things like the refrigerator and freezer running to protect your food supply. Have a notebook handy and over the course of the weekend, jot down your observations. This will help you to identify what items you use that require power, what you need, and what you can live without. As well, you will notice any big gaps in your preparations – far better to discover those gaps now than in the midst of a crisis!
Once you’ve assessed where you stand, begin taking steps to untangle yourself from the grid. Some things to look at:
- Water: At least 1 month supply of drinking water stored, gravity fed water filtration system, additional water for sanitation, rainwater collection system, cistern, well, septic, nearby bodies of water and the means to transport water from them, buckets and containers- water is one of your most vital survival needs – learn more here.
- Heating: Wood stove, fireplace, propane heaters, oil heaters, lots of fuel, non-tech methods of staying warm – get more ideas for winter warmth.
- Cooking: Wood stove, fireplace, meals that only require reheating or just-add-water meals, cast-iron cookware to use on wood stove or fireplace, sun oven or solar cooker, outdoor fireplace, outdoor grill, rocket stove, Kelly Kettle.
- Refrigeration: propane powered or other off-grid refrigerator, large cooler to be packed with snow in the winter and used indoors, a plastic storage bench that is animal-proof to be used outdoors in the winter, root cellar for summer, change of eating habits in summer, or learn how to make a clay pot refrigerator.
- Lighting: Solar garden lights, candles, kerosene lights, flashlights, solar lanterns, LED lights – click here for other emergency lighting ideas.
- Entertainment: Books, board games, cards, crafts, needlework, hiking, picnicking, sports, swimming, fishing, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, playing an instrument, singing – think 1800s entertainment.
You should also be prepared for household tasks like laundry and canning without the benefit of electrical power. The less reliant you can become on the grid, the better off and less stressed you will be if it goes down for the long-term. There are probably many things in your home that use power that are nice, but unnecessary.
Do you have:
- A television
- A video game console
- A microwave
- A cupboard full of complicated small kitchen appliances
- A tumble dryer
- A cell phone
- A DVD player
- Electronic toys and devices
- A computer
- Cable television
Any of these things are luxuries. The more that you can separate yourselves from the need for these items, the simpler your life will be in the event of a grid failure. An added bonus, is when you remove your dependence on some of these items, it frees up more time and makes you more productive in the long run.
When you make the switch to a more simplified lifestyle, you may find that all those things you thought you couldn’t live without merely added to the stress and chaos in your life. Untying yourself from the grid isn’t just about preparedness – embrace simplicity for the peace it brings.
Have you stepped away from the hustle and bustle of the grid? If so, how do you manage some of the challenges mentioned in this article? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.