Living off the grid can be a very green and soul satisfying thing to try. While going completely off the grid is not very easy, there are a few easy things you can definitely implement, if you live in an independent house. The more land area you have, the easier it will be to try these out. Here’s the list of how you can almost go off the grid:
1. Install solar panels. The size of solar panels depends on how much load you need. Replace everything with ultra efficient 5 star rated appliances. Air conditioning is the biggest electrical load in a house, so plan smaller naturally cool rooms. Ideally, a family of four in a three bedroom house with one air conditioner and other basic efficient appliances can live completely on 3 kilowatt solar panels costing around INR 3,00,000. If you need another air conditioner, you will have to add another 1 or 2 kilowatt solar panels.
2. Make design changes to your rooms so that there’s ample ventilation and you can stay naturally cool. Plant trees and paint your roof white to keep the indoors cool. Make your bedrooms smaller by installing false ceilings or partitions so that a smaller air conditioner can cool the space.
3. Use solar water heater for hot water and pipe it to the bathrooms and kitchen too to reduce cooking costs. It will cost you around INR 15,000 to 20,000.
4. Use every sun-lit space you have to grow food. Apart from the terrace and backyard or front yard, use the windows and balconies to grow food vertically. You may not be able to grow all the food you consume unless you have a really big area.
5. Compost every organic waste you generate. Install a bio gas generator that will supply cooking gas. This can address around 20 to 40 percent of your cooking needs. Use induction cookers and other efficient appliances to cook the rest of the food. The electricity should come from solar power. Modify your eating style such as having more salads and food that needs less energy to cook.
6. Harvest rainwater, it is free and purified by nature. Make an open well to store rainwater and recharge the ground water level. Dig a borewell to have water throughout the year.
7. Recycle every bit of water. Grey water (non-toilet water) from washing, bath and kitchen should be piped for flushing and irrigation. Dry clothes by hanging them and not using the dryer.
8. Treat black toilet water by using a small sewage treatment plant and use the treated water for washing cars or in your garden.
9. Use cycle and electric scooter or car. You will need much bigger solar panels for recharging an electric car.
Try and implement some of these at least if you can’t do everything. Do share your ideas and experiences if you have done any of these or are planning to do so.