Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Off-Grid Living

I am in my absolute beginner phase of off-grid housing. I like the concept. It sounds good and I am convinced. I started my very initial research and this is what I found.
  • Water: If given a permit from city hall (which is not clear that it will give) one can drill for water and install a well. That costs some Euro 6,000. Then add roughly Euro 1,000 for equipment like pump, 1000 liter container, carbon filters, etc. So, water seems to be straight forward where we live (if you live in a rural area and are given the permit).
  • Heating: Heating can be shifted to wood. Wooden pellets are becoming popular and if need be you can plant your own trees and become 100% self sufficient. That can provide you with hot water, heating and possibly even a hot stove to cook with. That also looks achievable.
  • Electricity - Solar panels: This article points out that this is a Euro 50,000 investment. Given that currently I pay about €50/month to the electricity utility company, the €50,000 bill is equivalent to 80 years of current consumption at current price. The equipment will need additional maintenance, etc. I will be long dead before breaking even.
  • Electricity - Wind power: Wind mills that generate enough power for a small family also run into €50,000. The same math as above applies. Plus one needs a city hall permit which in my case is not clear if it will be granted.
  • Electricity - Human power: Pedal power can generate up to 150 W/h. In short it is enough to power a laptop, TV or several light pulps, but it is not enough to power the washing machine, oven, etc. Also, I will not have time/desire enough to pedal 4h a day on my bike to have electricity for evening lights.
Becoming electricity independent seems to be the hardest. Anyone has good ideas?

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