When you want to live a fully independent lifestyle in a home that can sustain itself, there are four basics that you absolutely must take into account. Food, water, electricity, and waste disposal are essential resources required by any modern home, but finding ways to meet those needs without relying on paid services can be difficult, and to some may feel impossible. However, thanks to a combination of modern technology and some old-fashioned innovation, not only is it possible to live life off the grid, but it can actually prove more affordable in the long run. Whether you’re looking to completely cut off from the outside or just looking for a little extra self-sourcing, here’s how to get your home set up with those four necessities of life.
Your home’s electrical system uses up a lot of energy. Between your HVAC, your kitchen appliances, your lights, and even washing your clothes, electricity actually ends up costing the most out of all of your utilities. However, if you use an alternative energy source, such as wind or solar, you can make your home much more self-sustaining. According to Energy.gov, you don’t even necessarily need to purchase a whole new solar-powered system for your home. There are shared community solar options, solar leases, and power purchase programs that make alternative energy very affordable for the common household. If you’re looking to go completely off-grid, setting up your own solar or wind-powered system can take some investments of time and money to begin with, but the savings of having your own power source will add up over the years. In the end, a home that runs on solar power can save the average family up to $1,300 or more a year. Whether you want your own system or just want to support sustainable energy sources, there are affordable options out there that can make your lifestyle more self-sustaining.
Many people believe that you need a lot of land to grow enough food to become a self-sustaining household. However, that is a misconception. The reality is a family of four can grow most of their own food for the year on about a fifth of an acre, if they plan their land-use correctly. Of course, growing and raising all of your own food can seem like an extreme change to most, but getting started in homesteading doesn’t necessarily require years of work. With a little research, you can quickly learn how to set up your homestead by mini-projects instead of tackling the job all at once. These projects include tasks like building a raised garden bed, making soil blocks, and setting up a chicken coop. Of course, while most places allow for the keeping of chickens, ensure that your home and local laws allow for the keeping of livestock before you start setting up your homestead. If you’re not looking to completely source your own food, however, then another easy option to support sustainable living is to purchase your produce locally from farmer’s markets. Buying things like honey from local sellers can even be more beneficial to your health, as honey made from the same pollen as where you live can help against seasonal allergies, and fresh produce carry natural probiotics and aren’t covered in wax or other preservatives like imported goods. Overall, whether you want to source your food from home or your community, there are many options available that are both affordable and beneficial to your health.
Waste Treatment Systems
No matter what your level of sustainability, every home produces some kind of waste. While many types of waste can be reused, such as composting food scraps and recycling glass, wood, and other basic materials, not every form of waste has use in your home. Sewage, for example, contains water that has been contaminated by soaps from your washer, your bathrooms, and of course, carries away bodily waste. Sewage, however, is actually one of the easiest wastes to self-sustainably dispose of. Modern domestic sewage systems can be installed right on your own property, and only need to be cleaned, or pumped, once every 3-5 years. This completely eliminates the need to connect to the city sewage lines, and also gives you the freedom to build your home anywhere regardless of whether or not you’re close enough to the city limits to connect to their system. If you’re also growing your own food on your land, however, make sure that your sewage tank isn’t put too close to your crops or water system in order to prevent any cross-contamination. It’s also important that you are aware of the local ordinances in your area that may not allow for personal septic systems. Some urbanized areas require that you connect to the city sewer lines, making personal systems more convenient for those living outside of city limits or in areas where homes are more spread out. While domestic septic systems can be great for your home’s self-sustainability, and for the environment, it’s important to ensure that the laws in your area allow personal septic tanks before you make that investment.
Just like getting your own sewage system, water is one of the easier things to self-source. Believe it or not, water is available right where you’re living; you just have to dig for it. Installing a water well right on your own property can provide you with enough water to meet your home needs, or even just supplement them to lower your monthly water bills and act as an emergency source. When installed properly, a modern well goes right below the bedrock layers in the ground and straight to the natural, underground water deposits and rivers. While the bedrock acts as a natural water purification system, it’s still important to have your well water tested to ensure that there are no residual contaminants, such as pesticides and heavy metals, before using it. Just like with septic systems, however, it’s important to be aware that, depending on where you live, certain permits are required before you hire a well-digging service. If you’re living in a suburban area, for example, there may be local ordinances that do not allow for well digging. Having access to your own source of fresh water is convenient and a great self-sustaining option, but make sure to research the laws and permit requirements in your area before breaking ground.
Becoming a self-sustaining home doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Most families find that if they tap into community resources, like community solar power and take up practices like recycling, they save themselves hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year. Even if you want to be entirely self-sustained on your own property, resources are available to meet all of the needs of your household while still maintaining the benefits of modern conveniences.