Thursday, February 7, 2013
Why We Are Choosing Off-Grid Living
Uh, why wouldn't we? Think about this for a minute. Your house on it's own independent electrical system un-effected by weather(ish), the economy, black outs, etc. In Maine with some of the highest utility costs in the country that is a huge perk. So what stops people? Why isn't this more popular outside of the "hippy" community? Well, I really think it comes down to cost and knowledge. It is a chunk up front, for sure. But, I have to say, the general public spends more each year on a bathroom remodel, vacations, eating out, entertainment and lots more than it would cost to put in a solar system (no not the one with planets, stay focused!). So, then we come to knowledge. Where do you start? Will it look ugly? Will it be hard to maintain? What if the sun doesn't shine for a week? Will I have to start wearing Birkeys and stop shaving my legs? To the last one, NO. To the rest, you start with having an energy audit done on your existing house to see what size system you need. If you are building like we are, you design the house and adjust from there with energy saving things like appliances that are Energy Star, gas or wood heating (including the dryer), DC lighting and sometimes just doing without (we won't have a microwave, but that's a whole other post!). After you figure out your energy demand either contact a solar installation company or if you are handy and DIYish them start research and find a solar supplier. We found the best deals on wholesalesolar.com. We recommend going with USA made products *wink wink*. As for how it looks... well that really is superficial isn't it? But, I get it because that was a first thought for me too. Ideally we will be mounting ours above the tree line on a small tower but we really don't know yet until we position the house and see where we have the best sun exposure. Maintaining systems has become pretty easy, systems come with safety devices to avoid over charging, alert you if something is wrong and to also automatically turn on a generator if the battery bank gets too low. All from your house. It just makes sense to me! Green, independent, and practical.
We like all the above reasons for having an off-grid house but the main reason is that we don't trust that public utilities will always be there for us. Yes, I realize that sounds so paranoid and "lets build a bunker" but it's the reality we are living in right now in this country. It is far from stable. Ever seen Dante's Peak? We are the town, the government is the volcano and she's just clearing her throat. I smell sulfur.
Have questions about solar? Ask away. I will ask my hubby.