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Self sufficiency

7th September 2017 Print

We’ve become so reliant on different types of technology to the extent where we feel we can’t live without them – even to try and better our lifestyles. Smartphones, cars and constant food, water and energy supplies have all contributed towards an existence that is reliant upon these things every day and night; without them we would probably struggle to live our lives in a way that felt comfortable. 

Going off the grid is a way that we can bring ourselves back into the real world and have some sense of independence. By replacing energy and water supplies from the main grid for renewable alternatives, this way of living offers a sustainable alternative to a lifestyle where everything we need is available to use 24/7. Together with Flogas, specialists in LPG canisters and suppliers of gas cylinders, we take you through exactly how living off-grid can be easier than you think: 

Changing your power system

You need to be able to find a new way to factor power into your home. Solar energy is a reliable form of power that can produce around 3,400kWh of free electricity every year.

Those that live in homes with a few people in them could live off a solar panel that provides 2kW – 3kW of power. If you have quite a big family with small children, a 3kW – 4kW solar panel system will suffice. A 3kW overall solar system will cost around £5,000 - £6,000 and will be a sound investment based on the amount of free electricity you will procure during its lifetime.

Take note that your solar panel could stop working; if this is the case then you should be prepared. Look for a backup power supply in the form of a generator or gas cylinders, as you never know when cloudy days could occur. Or alternatively, domestic wind turbines can also be installed that produce 5kW to 6kW of energy; you will also be paid for any energy that you don’t use which is sent back to the grid.

What you could benefit from:

When you’re making yourself off the grid, it is vital for you to only use the power that is necessary. Living within your budget is essential, as you don’t want to go over and pay a higher price for it in the future. LED bulbs should be used to replace incandescent bulbs – helping to reduce electricity costs by 75%; aim to get rid of any electrical appliances that you don’t need, and make sure that all electrical appliances are turned off at the mains once they have been used. 

Water supplies

Remember that you need some sort of water supply, especially if you’re not close to a natural source such as a lake. A well can cost anything between £10,000 – 20,000, and this is dependent upon how deep the well is dug, and whether the well will be used as a source of drinking water or for other domestic purposes. 

You won’t have a sewage system and this means that you require a sceptic tank. This tank will need to be emptied periodically by a specialist truck so you know that it is being disposed of safely. As well as this, a greywater system should also be installed; by treating water used in dishwashing, sinks, showers and baths, this water can be used again. This also benefits the lifespan of your well, as you can reuse water that has already been cleaned and brought to the surface.

Changing your life

Something to consider when making this big change is to also to alter your lifestyle so that the changes that you are currently making, just like changing your energy sourcing, are more practical. 

Your waste

As you’re making these changes to your life, you should monitor it correctly so you know how much food, energy and water you are using. If these were beginning to slip, then your reliance on these things may reach unsustainable levels, which may impact your ability to live off-grid. There are many ways to keep on top of waste, and these include:

- Keeping showers short. 

- Only using artificial lighting when it is completely dark. 

- Turning off lights after exiting a room. 

- Using food leftovers for compost to create a rich soil for growing more fruit and vegetables. 

- Attend workshops that allow you to learn more about how to repair any damages to the home, or how to cultivate land for agricultural practices. 

- Adopt techniques such as hunting and fishing so as to catch fresh food, helping to reduce your reliance upon supermarkets that you would usually have to drive to. 

There is more than one route for you to become more self-sufficient and this whole experience should be looked at as a life lesson – it might just be the time in your life where you find your inner self and become a happier person.