5 Steps to Take Your Home Off The Grid
The ongoing need for load-shedding and rising electricity prices have caused many concerned homeowners to look for ways to reduce their dependence on the national grid. Below are 5 steps to help homeowners to start along the pathway of taking their homes off the grid.
Step 1. Do an Energy Audit.
An energy audit is a must when embarking on 5 Steps to Take your home off the Grid.
Start your audit by looking at your electricity bills for the past year. By taking note of your monthly and daily power consumption over different times of the year you will be aware of the fact that certain electrical appliances use far more power than others. This first step will help you determine your average power needs and will be a guide to steps you can take to reduce your power consumption by using your electrical appliances more efficiently.
Step 2. Decide what type of system?
When taking your home off the grid it is important to decide upfront which system you are going for.
This decision depends on whether you just want a backup system to supplement the national power supply or you want to be completely self-sufficient by being disconnected from grid.
Starting Simple and small is always a winner!
You can start with a simple system that will reduce the stress of the wasted hours during load shedding, and later add components as you are able
The benefits of starting small in taking your home off the grid.
- Starting small has many benefits – your initial investment will be decided by your available funds
- You will be able to ride out power outages.
- It will also give you time to adjust your lifestyle to living partly off-grid.
Keep in mind that to have everything in your house powered by an alternative power system off the national grid may be prohibitively expensive.
Step 3 Get expert advice.
Before you can make any decisions on how to start taking your home off the grid you will need expert guidance. Going off the grid is not a small project – even if you decide to start small. Having good expert advice will save you money and time (not to mention emotional stress)
Finding the right company to guide your installation and researching your best financing options should not be rushed. Take your time, and access more than one expert. If you decide to start small it is so important that your initial plan can accommodate your future vision. There are many accredited installers who will guide you through the plan that is best suited to your home. Installing any system that links directly into your exisiting power supply has to be installed by a suitably certified electrical engineer.
Step 4 Components you will need.
Some of the components you may need are listed below
- Solar Panels
- An inverter
Solar systems are most often the type of system that is used as a first step to taking your home off the grid. Solar panels generate electricity so the number of solar panels you install will be determined by your power needs. These panels are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
An inverter is needed. This inverter converts the direct current coming from the solar panels into the alternating current used in your house.
Batteries store the energy generated by the solar panels. Batteries remain the biggest cost of an energy system so it is important to know how to look after them. It is wise to obtain clear instructions on how to make them last as long as possible as they are expensive to replace.
Generators are optional but can provide you with a backup system. A generator is there to generate electricity by burning diesel, petrol or gas. It is good to know that this is an expensive option and generators are very noisy.
Step 5 lifestyle changes needed.
It is so important to realise that using an alternative power supply will require you to make some lifestyle changes.
But why do I need to make changes?
It is so important to realise that using an alternative power supply will require you to make some lifestyle changes. This is because you need to minimize the strain on your batteries. These changes are not difficult to make it just means there are times when you must monitor your use of your available power.
- air conditioners
- washing machines
- high-powered lights
- pool pumps.
Below are a few tips on how to use some of these appliances with care to make them more energy efficient
For example, using the electric oven, the geyser, electric heaters, and the pool pump are some examples of appliances to be used with care.
If your geyser runs all day, every day it uses the most electricity of all the appliances listed above. Putting your geyser on a timer or just switching it off when you don’t need hot water can greatly reduce your power needs. Another idea is the installation of a solar-heated geyser to supplement your hot water supply.
A refrigerator uses a high % of the average household’s electricity bill. This is because fridges and freezers require constant cooling, even when not being used. Fridge/freezer doors should be kept closed as much as possible to reduce heat loss. If you do need to open the door, make sure it is only opened a few inches to keep the cold air stays inside.
An air conditioner cools down rooms by circulating cold air through them and to do that they consume a lot of energy. It is more efficient to buy an air conditioner with high cooling capacity and use it to cool just one space in your home. Trying to run air conditioners to cool the whole home is very costly.
A microwave oven is one of the most common kitchen appliances used today. They are also among the most efficient ones as well. However, microwaves consume a lot of electricity. Therefore, if you plan to purchase a new microwave oven, make sure that it has a low power consumption rating.
If you own a washing machine, then you should know how much energy it uses. This will help you decide whether you need to buy an energy-saving model.
It is worth considering using gas for cooking. There are many stoves on offer now with gas hobs combined with an electric oven.
There are many simple lifestyle changes you and your family can make to reduce your home’s power needs. Doing that would reduce to cost of any system you put in place and therefore make it possible for you to work towards taking your home off the grid.
Taking some small steps to having your home off the grid is certainly the beginning of looking at our world in a different way.