Monday 24 March 2014

Off Grid On Grid

On our journey to self suffiency deciding if we are to go off grid has been raised many a time in discussions, last year we viewed a property that was off grid, generating its own power by hydro electric and solar panels, it had a multi fuel stove and under floor heating run from geo thermal, it had its own water supply and a cess pit for sewerage, it was set in a very remote location, we looked at the place through rose coloured glasses, being off grid totally reliant on ourselves sounded just great, in reality it would be very hard work and what we have further found out is the system set up there is very unreliable, in winter the water supply would freeze up so no power being generated, in summer it had been know to dry up so again no power being generated, electricity didn't come that far up the valley so there would be no alternative available, when the seller said off grid they meant TOTTALY off grid.
This got us thinking do we want to be off grid to that extreme, the answer is no, as great as it sounds I don't want to go back to living in the dark ages, so the alternative is to look at the energy we use and what is really necessary to maintain a good comfortable standard of living.
Our first requirement for a new home is a solid fuel Aga/Rayburn providing a cooking area and the facility to heat the water and run some radiators, cooking heating and hot water are three of the main energy consumers in the home, 
this is like the one in our new home

   The next thing was to consider lighting, I didn't want to live in the dark and yes candles and oil lamps are a great alternative and give a lovely atmosphere to room, but they are a fire risk, so energy saving light bulbs is what we have been experimenting with over the past couple of years, we do have a supply of candles and oil lamps as we are aware that the location of our home being remote is likely to have many power outages so we have prepared for this.
We have found a make of energy saving halogen spot lights we are very happy with, some we have tried have been next to useless in the amount of light they give out, so our favoured ones are these

There not cheap £13 for 2 bulbs, we have found them to be brilliant they do what it says on the packet, so whenever I go to Costco I pick up a couple of packs.
We will need to buy a washing machine when we move so at the moment we are researching various machines and we will look closely at the energy rating.
I have been experimenting a bit with solar power, we have a solar power radio that has an additional wind up charge facility, we have had this radio for years and we will get an additional one. I purchased a briefcase solar panel in January in the sales it is usefull for charging all manner of small items like phones, laptops, book readers and rechargeable batteries

Another item I purchased that I was very pleased with was a carpet sweeper, I am not a lover of hard floors, so the house will be carpeted and vacuum cleaners are power hungry, I remembered my grandmother having a carpet sweeper, did a bit of looking around and found they are still very much in use and available, I bought my little Bissel off amazon and have used it daily, its excellent, on carpet and hard floors, for £20 it was a well worth it.
I will not be having a dryer when we move I find it unnecessary, there is nothing wrong with hanging washing outside and if the weather isn't playing ball I will dry it on a suspended dryer above the Rayburn, Dishwasher another unnecessary item, dishes can and will be washed by hand.
We will have a fridge and freezer  to us they are a necessity, we need to be able to store our food, although I do can and dehydrate some food items will be stored by freezing, 
So to sum up we will not be off grid, but will reduce our usage as much as possible, being aware of the power that's use and alternatives that can be used for is a big step towards self suffiency.
We are not doing this to give up all our creature comforts, but to make a lesser footprint on the planet living  a lifestyle of our choosing.

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