Living a Sustainable Lifestyle
The decision to go off the grid started in 2006 when we moved to the farm and had to look at replacing the existing furnace and started looking at alternative sources of heating. The real decision to go off grid was pretty much made for us when our electrical bill doubled in 2008 and then doubled again when the new "smart meters" were installed. Thus, to say, the decision to go off grid has been driven by economics.
For us, living off grid means:
- Utilizing solar and wind power with a back-up diesel generator
- Heating with wood (outdoor wood stove) with propane furnace as a back-up
- Use cold water instead of hot water whenever possible
- Cooking on a propane stove specifically designed for off-grid living
- Cooking on an outdoor propane BBQ
- Maintaining our old fashioned wood burning cook stove for emergencies
The decision to go off grid has also entailed a complete lifestyle change. What we give up, we only hope to gain in the smaller footprint that we leave behind in this world. Here are some of the lifestyle changes that have been made:
- We use an outdoor and indoor clothes line to dry our cloths
- We use low energy light bulbs throughout all buildings on the farm
- We do not flush the toilet after every use
- We have a seasonal outdoor composting toilet
- We do not use an automatic dishwasher
- We refrain from using electrical kitchen appliances
- We are mindful of bathing and showering habits
- We burn candles and avoid leaving unnecessary lights on
- We utilize and collect hand tools as opposed to power tools whenever possible
- We minimize our use of electrical appliances, tools, toys and luxury items
- TV's, computers, printers, etc. are plugged into power-bars which are turned off when not in use
Upgrades and additions to our off-grid system have been coming out of nowhere in every direction. Delays, setbacks and a lot of stress. Could write a book on the whole experience. Nevertheless, we are where we are and it remains a work in progress.
Will keep you posted as things develop and more time can be dedicated to writing on this subject. Pushing forward.
In 2008 we started looking at all the components that would be required, the alternatives, the possible grants, equipment, suppliers and contractors. It has been a daunting task to say the least, with little to no support from any direction.
There are lots of newspaper and magazine articles written by people that have gone off grid, but the economic policies of our times do not support this move, in fact they hamper it. With no support from any level of business, municipal, provincial or federal government, it puts us very much of being alone and truly having to rely on our own "sustainability".
The first step to going off grid was to determine what our electrical power requirements are. The electrical bill does not reflect accurate usage by any means. A contractor met with us and did a site inspection and presented us with our usage requirements and advised us point blank as to what we would have to give up and eliminate from our current usage.
It was obvious that we needed to purchase a solar panel unit with some sort of back up power supply. That led us to our next hurdle; finding a solar contractor that would actually sell and install an off grid system to us. The market is saturated with solar contractors that only want to sell grid-tie systems. We have yet to understand this economic anomaly.
The following are projects that we have undertaken here on Earth Haven Farm to either live off-grid or to create a more sustainable lifestyle.