In part 1 of How to Get off Grid From Here, we talked about sustainable heating. Now that my big electric-hungry system has been replaced with a sustainable, renewable source of heat – a wood stove – I look towards my hot water heater.
This is another electric-hungry appliance that can be replaced with a better solar-powered version. I am not talking about heating the water with electric power produced from the sun. I am talking about heating water by using the heat produced from the sun directly. Now this one is going to take some time to recover the costs of installing a solar water heating system, but it is a very helpful step in being able to buy enough solar panels to run a household.
With a solar hot water heater system, you have a storage tank much as you do now, but instead of gas or electric heating the water, you have a solar collector on the roof to harness the heat from the sun. The hot water is then piped into the house into the system and finally into the storage tank where it is held until needed. A small system for 2-3 people is in the $2000 range.
You can spend far more than that to achieve hot water, so the system must be based on your needs. The reason for using the system is to lower the overall power we must produce using solar panels.
Now we take a look at the electric stovetop and oven. This is pretty conventional and uses a lot of electric power, the trouble is you have to get pretty creative to replace this cooking surface and oven without using gas or propane.
Of course gas and propane are not sustainable or off grid. We can curb the use of our oven and cooktop by using the grill to cook outdoors whenever we can. When we start looking at the oven as a big energy consuming monster, it will become much less of a burden to fire up the coals and grill a meal more often, on the porch with the BBQ.
The wood stove has a cooktop for the biggest part of the year when it is cool and we are burning wood to keep warm. But no good spot for baking a pie, or making bread, so the oven just might have to stay and be used as little as we can get away with. This will keep our power consumption down to a more sustainable level.
Now we have the clothes dryer, which of course can be replaced with a clothesline for a large portion of the year. This is another big user of electric power. But it can stay around for use only when it is the last choice. Most of the time we can find enough dry weather to use the clothesline.
Of course any other items in your home that you can lower the electric consumption of, or change to a more sustainable version will help your move to go off grid, so take a look around and see if you have other items that can be converted.
At this point, you can really take a look at how much power you need to generate to be self-sufficient. Then you will have a very good idea how much solar energy you need, to provide all your power. Can you afford that many panels and batteries? That is the question we all must answer, if the answer is no, then take then next best step. Buy as many solar panels as you can afford and get as close as you can to being off grid. Then wait for the day when you can finally pull the plug for good.
That is the day we are striving to reach, we are winning and gaining all the way. But that day will mark a point in time where we will be off grid and on our own power.
What a cool day, it is coming, it is on the way we have put everything in motion that we can.
Just keeping doing whatever you can to move in the right direction, you will at some point catch that day and rise up the winner.