We have spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of building our house totally off grid. After a shocking $187 power bill last month for power to light our 5th wheel, run the washer in the barn, the security light that helps guide my way to the barn plus a small space heater we ran about 15 days last month in the greenhouse our decision to go off grid was finalized very easily this week.
I had already come to the conclusion that dryers, dishwashers and microwaves will not find a home in our new house and neither will the monthly check I write to the power company.
I am constantly trying to find ways to conserve power but some months my effort seems to go unnoticed. We have been striving every day, here on our farm to find ways to be more sustainable but we still have a long way to go.
So you may want to understand exactly what it means to “live off the grid” and how we plan to do that.
Living off the grid means using no supplied power source. We produce all the power we need to live using solar and wind generated sources. Here in South Carolina sunny days are abundant and our homestead is positioned on the top of a knoll which give us plenty of wind. If you were to look at the wind maps for our area you would not think we could generate enough wind for power but by the way the lay of the land is the wind circles in a small valley and hits us with blunt force at the top of our knoll.
How do we plan on accomplishing this?
1. Cut down on our electric use by using more man powered DC appliances, tools and fixtures.
2. Heat and cool our home with wood and passive solar.
3. Build an energy efficient home.
4. Solar hot water.
Even though I have 15 years until retirement and Craig has 20 it is constantly in the back of our mind that by the time we retire we won’t be able to afford power. Our bill has steadily risen every year since I can remember.
Our ancestors survived for centuries supporting themselves by what the land had to provide them and we want that same freedom. For now we will keep plugging (no pun intended) away and at some point I will happily announce the day we are totally “off gird”.
We are currently “off grid ” . My family is staying in a camper until we build. My question is do you currently use a grey water system or septic? We are trying to use grey water system and a composting toilet but the way I’m understanding the laws here in SC we can’t. Do you happen to know?
We lived in our 5th wheel for two years well we saved for our down payment on our house. We ended up having to put in a regular septic system and even though our dreams are to be totally off grid so far we are still connected.
Hi my name is Erin my family and I are wanting to go off grid we are Muslim and also leaving this part behind as well we have a steady retirement income of 4000.00 a month but with the cost of city living we can’t even save money we are here in Sc and want to stay in this area
I have a friend who borrowed money to install solar on his home to the tune of $30,000. He said he is legally forbidden to turn it on until the local power company comes and checks it and completed the connection to the grid. He says it is illegal to use it in an off grid, stand alone manner. If he does so he can be arrested. He lives in Columbia.
Please tell me he has not understood the law fully.
Jesse we are still in the planning stage and have not gotten as far as your friend. I wish I could say all that was untrue but there are so many rules and stipulations to being off grid it has slowed our process down.
I can tell you this. in all 48 CONUS states you have to have some sort of electricity on any residential dwelling. even if it is solar and you are selling it back. You also have to have a working stove or means to cook, a means of heat, a working sink, a working toilet and at least one window to be considered legal. I know it sucks but there are areas that do not have inspections even in South Carolina. Theses are usually your most rural areas where the county seat is the mayor, sheriff and postal clerk. a lot of West Virginia and Pennsylvania are like this.
Thanks for sharing that with us…that is all good information!
the way around this is to have a non-“permanent” structure like a tiny cabin built on a trailer. this also bypasses any minimum square footage regulations.
I just bought land in the county of Aiken and want to be off grid. I did find out that I can have a home as small as 200 square feet. I actually want a dry log cabin. Has anyone looked into this?