Cost Of Living Off The Grid
A new trend among the millennial generation is a desire to “live off the grid.” What that phrase means is open to interpretation, but it means being able to disconnect from a power company’s electrical service and generate your electricity. Other living elements off the grid include an independent water supply, food sources, and a comfortable and safe home shelter. The lure towards this style of living is that it’s cheaper to live this way than in a traditional setting. For homesteaders in the wilds of Alaska, this may be true. Desiring to go off the grid in the lower 48 states, the living costs can be as much or even higher. First, there is the cost of buying distant land and water. That can easily be $100,000 or more. A simple cabin-style house will cost a minimum of $50,000.
The next expense will be the cost of solar panels or a wind turbine to generate electricity. The installed cost of solar panels is around $9 per watt. That translates to about $30,000 for a 5 kW system. According to the American Wind Energy Association, a home 5 KW wind turbine costs about the same as solar, $30,000. Add the cost of digging a well and installing a sewage disposal system; you have a total value of over $200,000. That’s if you start from scratch, however. For those who already have the property, a home, and a well, the cost of living off the grid amounts to mainly the value of supplying your electricity. Three factors determine how long it takes for the system to pay for itself: the cost of the system, the price of electricity from power companies, and the availability of rebates, tax credits, and other monetary incentives. The bottom line is that the average time to pay off a 5-kW solar installation can range from 4 to 20 years. There are other, non-monetary benefits to going all the gird, however. Harnessing energy from the sun or wind to heat and cool your home, providing the electricity needed to run that house, and your reduction of the dependency on fossil fuels are lovely environmental goals that benefit everyone in the long run.
Also, other non-monetary benefits surface from living off the grid:
1. More time to enjoy life, family, and things you want to do.
2. Closer relationships. The saying that no one on the last day of their life says they wished they had spent more time at the office than with family and friends.
3. Less stress. Life today is stressful. Nearly 80 - 90 percent of doctor's visits are based upon complaints related to overwork and stress.
4. More creativity. One outcome of living off the grid is that we can see things better. That helps us to develop old talents or to discover new ones.
5. A better appreciation of nature and beauty. We can see the beauty surrounding us more clearly when we simplify our lives.