According to Bloomberg, global power has never been so clean with renewables beating the investment power of fossil fuels two to one and clean energy installations breaking world records in 2016. Rising energy costs and climate change are two of the main reasons why more and more people in the US are turning to off grid energy sources to power their homes. However, learning how to do it and deciding how best to manage it in the area where you live requires a fair amount of investigation.
Energy costs can become particularly difficult for us to manage as we get older and for retirees they can be a source of permanent stress. Before retiring it’s a good idea to set up a new financial plan to save on costs; a plan that might cover anything from changes to grocery shopping bills, to health plans, to transport decisions. Off grid energy solutions are another viable way of saving on monthly expenditures that, as senior citizens, we would do well to consider.
1. Find ways of reducing your energy needs
As well as saving on costs, the choice to power your home using off grid energy means that you have the chance to assess how much energy you use and start reducing it. Many of us waste a fair amount of energy much of the time. With a better organized household, with positive limits in place, we can actually use off grid power sources to reduce both energy costs and energy consumption in one hit.
Smart control systems are used in off grid energy homes to reduce energy waste. You can use them to schedule when lights should come on and go off, thus improving your energy efficiency ratings without adding to your daily responsibilities. By strategically placing where your lights are positioned you can also save energy. You may find that by placing lamps in corners, the light reflects off of two walls and it reduces the need to have so many bulbs in the same room.
Good quality insulation is designed to make your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, which can help reduce the need for heating and air-conditioning. You should also pay careful attention to your fridge. As the appliance that uses the greatest amount of energy in our homes, we want to make sure that we’re not unknowingly wasting energy that could ultimately be saved by making a few small changes.
2. Make sure your energy plan will cover your needs
Before you switch to off grid energy at home, take the time to assess how much energy you’ve been using over the past couple of years. This will help you to gauge how much energy you’re actually going to need. You should also probably overestimate slightly to avoid the undesirable consequences of running out of energy before the end of each month.
You could also choose to make your shift to off grid energy a transitional move. Keep the energy provider electrical meter available to use in an emergency, but aim to power your home entirely from off grid energy sources, for example. This is something you can try for a year or two until you are confident that you have your energy needs completely covered.
3. Choose the right kind of energy source
Off grid electrical energy can be powered using a number of natural sources. The three main ones are wind, hydro and solar.
Solar energy is, without a doubt, the most common of renewable energies available to us today. It can power anything from a single appliance to an entire city just by harnessing the sun’s energy through the use of solar panels. Normally installed on a building’s roof, solar panels provide the power that homes need with very little maintenance involved, which makes them an attractive choice for homeowners wanting to get off the grid.
The difficulty is that solar panels can be expensive to install. So even though the long-term benefits are clear, the initial investment might make it difficult for everyone to access.
If you have a turbine or windmill linked up to your home, you have the resources necessary to capture the power of the wind and convert it into energy. Wind power is a natural energy that can also be stored and used at a later date, making it an excellent choice for homeowners who need more power during particular times of the year.
However, unlike solar panels, turbine maintenance is more time-consuming because they are constructed with many moving parts. What’s more, they only really work effectively in windy climates, which is why it’s important that you take your location into consideration before deciding whether or not to invest in wind power.
Hydroelectricity is the term used for energy generated through water. It taps into the natural cycles of rain, rivers, streams and seas. A common way of harnessing the power in water is through the use of a water turbine, which means that up-keep of all machinery can again be an issue for some people. On a positive note, if you live close to a water source, you can be sure that you will always benefit from a constant energy supply as, unlike wind, water doesn’t come and go.
So, is it time you left the grid?
This Article is a Contribution to Leisure Freak from freelance writer Jackie Edwards.
Now working as a full-time freelance writer, Jackie Edwards is also a busy mum of two small children. In any free time she has (which isn’t much) she likes to volunteer and do charity work and take the family greyhound Bertie for long walks.