How to Take Your Home Off the Grid – Is It Possible?
- Jun 13, 2017
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Is your monthly electric bill too high?
With prices per kilowatt-hour drifting between $.10 and $.20, homeowners are feeling the squeeze as rates for municipal power climb steadily upwards. The average homeowner in the United States uses between 900 and 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, with translates to a monthly fee of between $90 and $200.
These types of prices make off-grid living an attractive solution for a broad range of homeowners – but is it possible?
The short answer is yes, but it begs another question:
It off-grid living a practical solution?
The short answer is probably not. But that doesn't mean you can't make most – or even all – of your own energy using renewable resources.
Renewable Sources of Energy
Generally, when people describe their desire to go off-grid, they mean they wish to use renewable energy to augment or replace drawing energy from the municipal grid. These sources of energy usually include:
- Solar Energy: One of the cheapest sources of electricity, solar energy carries over its installation cost over years and produces considerable amounts of energy – if you have the surface area necessary to install enough panels.
- Wind Energy: Wind power is an exciting industry where advances in efficiency and output are being made on a regular basis. Wind power is feasible even in homes with small surface areas since turbines don't take up that much room horizontally.
- Micro-hydroelectric Energy: The least well-known source of renewable energy, micro-hydroelectric systems rely on there being a running source of water on your property – a river or small stream, for instance.
Each of these options can definitely reduce your reliance on the municipal electricity grid. In general, installing them is cheaper and more efficient than relying on the grid – but while you can generate power consistently using these methods, storing it is another problem altogether.
Energy Storage is the Catch
It turns out that even with free electricity, creating your own infrastructure for reliable energy storage is more expensive than simply purchasing energy from the grid. Almost any fully off-grid system is going to be less capable and less reliable than American homeowners expect.
This means that you'll have to keep a backup generator on-hand to make up for any inconsistencies that may occur – windless, cloudy days, for instance. You'll quickly find out that off-grid prices outweigh municipal grid costs by a long shot.
The Hybrid Solution
The best way to cut down electrical costs while retaining the reliability and consistency of municipal power is to install a hybrid solution. Install wind, solar, or hydroelectric generators on your property and tie them into the grid. Essentially, you can use the grid itself for energy storage and only draw power when you need to.
This means that you'll still pay a monthly electrical bill, but it will be vastly reduced. Municipal electricity providers still charge a flat connection fee to every property connected to the grid, so there will still be a small monthly fee even if you attain 100% renewable energy use, but the system will pay for itself over time.