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"Is It Cheaper to Live Off The Grid?"

Updated: Feb 27, 2023


It definitely can be cheaper to live off the grid, if you're careful. Living off the grid means living without relying on public utilities such as electricity, gas, or water supply. Instead, you generate your own power, collect and store rainwater, and heat your home with wood or other alternative fuels. While many people choose off-grid living for environmental or philosophical reasons, one of the most significant benefits of living off the grid is the potential for cost savings. In this blog post, we will explore whether it is cheaper to live off the grid than to rely on public utilities.


Energy costs

The most significant expense for most households is energy costs. In the United States, the average household spends around $1,450 per year on electricity alone (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). In contrast, an off-grid household generates its power from renewable sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, or hydroelectric generators, which can be installed for a one-time cost. While the initial cost of setting up an off-grid energy system can be significant, the long-term savings can be substantial. According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an off-grid solar system can pay for itself in as little as seven years (source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory).


Water costs

Another significant expense for many households is water costs. In the United States, the average household pays around $400 per year for water and sewage services (source: Environmental Protection Agency). Off-grid households collect and store rainwater, which is free and abundant in many parts of the country. While setting up a rainwater harvesting system can require an initial investment, it can pay for itself in just a few years. Moreover, off-grid households can use their greywater (wastewater from sinks, showers, and washing machines) for irrigation or toilet flushing, further reducing their water costs.


Heating costs


Heating costs can also be a significant expense for households, particularly in colder regions. Off-grid households typically use wood stoves or other alternative fuels for heating, which can be much cheaper than relying on propane, natural gas, or electric heating. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household spends around $1,200 per year on space heating (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration). In contrast, a cord of firewood (enough to heat a typical home for a winter) costs around $200 in many parts of the country (source: HomeAdvisor). Additionally, off-grid households can often source their firewood for free from their own property or nearby public lands.


Other cost savings

In addition to the direct cost savings on utilities, off-grid living can also lead to other cost savings. For example, off-grid households often grow their food, reducing their grocery bills. They may also make their own household products, such as soap or cleaning supplies, further reducing their expenses. Moreover, off-grid households can often live in smaller homes or in less expensive areas, reducing their housing costs. Living in an off-grid community like Riverbed Ranch allows you to also save money buy participating in group purchases.


Conclusion:

In conclusion, while there are significant upfront costs associated with setting up an off-grid system, the long-term savings can be substantial. Off-grid households can save money on energy, water, heating, and other expenses. However, it's essential to note that the cost savings of off-grid living can vary widely depending on factors such as location, climate, and the size of the household. It's also crucial to consider the lifestyle changes that off-grid living may require, such as reduced energy consumption and increased self-reliance. Nonetheless, for many families, off-grid living can provide a viable and cost-effective alternative to relying on public utilities.


Related Resources:

  1. U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2021). Average annual electricity consumption and cost by state. Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5

  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2019). Residential solar photovoltaic system cost model. Retrieved from https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/72133.pdf

  3. Environmental Protection Agency. (2019). Drinking water & groundwater statistics for 2017. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/water-utility-management/drinking-water-ground-water-statistics-2017

  4. HomeAdvisor. (2021). Firewood prices and cost considerations. Retrieved from https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/firewood/

  5. Off Grid World. (2021). Living off the grid: 8 ways to reduce your monthly expenses. Retrieved from https://offgridworld.com/living-off-grid-8-ways-to-reduce-your-monthly-expenses/

  6. Mother Earth News. (2021). Is living off the grid cheaper? Retrieved from https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/living-off-grid-cheaper-zm0z14aszrob


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