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What does it mean to be off the grid?


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

What does it mean to be off the grid?

If you’ve dreamed of becoming more self-sufficient or feel that there must be alternatives to paying a high percentage of your salary to energy companies or water suppliers, then you’re probably already considering ways to move towards an off the grid lifestyle.

The narrowest definition of living off the grid is that a household opts for alternative sources of energy to meet their needs, whilst in its widest sense it can mean adopting creative, more sustainable ways of obtaining all of life’s necessities.


The benefits of off the grid living

Many people find that decreasing their reliance on conventional sources of food, energy, transport, sanitation and housing not only allows them to live in a greener, less resource-intensive manner; it also opens up a wealth of opportunities to adopt a healthier lifestyle, learn new skills and ultimately provide alternatives for a better work-life balance. Developing options for increased independence and empowering individuals to manage without the large multi-nationals that dominate resource provision in the UK is a powerful incentive, which prompts people to embrace off the grid solutions.


Getting started

Luckily, living more sustainably can be initially achieved without major lifestyle alterations or dramatic decisions. Growing a few vegetables yourself, opting for second-hand goods rather than buying new, and adopting simple energy saving measures are all ways to begin the off the grid journey. Installing a water butt, composting food scraps, swapping the car for a bike and insulating your home to minimise heating bills are also all viable steps towards an off the grid existence. Some people go on to make bigger changes, perhaps moving towards more sustainable employment, purchasing solar panels or taking on a plot of land to begin larger scale food production. As individuals acquire the skills and mindset they need to move towards a more independent way of life, making bigger changes becomes more achievable.


Living completely off the grid

Although it is possible to live completely independently from conventional resources, it can be difficult to achieve, particularly when modern conveniences provide significant benefits. Whilst ambitious off the grid enthusiasts may opt to purchase a plot of land on which they can then sink a bore hole, install a composting toilet (they don’t smell, honestly!) and use solar panels to provide energy, this approach requires considerable commitment. For example, solar generated power is naturally inconsistent, leading to all the problems an intermittent supply creates unless you use a generator for back-up. 

Off the grid living is enormously rewarding and can be a real confidence builder for people that previously thought that major corporations were the only option when it comes to sourcing life’s necessities. An off the grid lifestyle is frequently a cost-effective one – many people are pleasantly surprised by the savings they make simply by consuming less and making more use of sustainable alternatives. Be warned though, the path towards greater self-reliance and increased freedom is addictive! Once you’ve experienced the immense satisfaction of eating a meal you’ve grown yourself, or reading a book using light from electricity you’ve created, you’ll just want to do it over and over again!


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