Pro’s and Con’s of Living Off-Grid
By Sabrina Essery – Freelance Writer
If our previous blog about off-the-grid living left you imagining life without outrageous hydro bills, then take a look at this abridged list of the pro’s and con’s of generating your own power!
* Pro: Reduced Energy Costs. You don’t have to pay for power you aren’t using- if you don’t use hydro, you don’t have to pay for hydro. Believe it or not, generating your own energy could result in you getting money back! If you generate more energy than you use then the excess energy eventually feeds back into the grid, and you get paid for it!
* Pro: Less Risk of Weather-Related Power Outages. While your neighbours are lighting candles and complaining about the power line that fell down, you’ll be flipping through TV channels to see what’s on. As long as you have enough energy stored in your battery, it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing- you’ll still be free to surf the web or keep your lights on!
* Pro: Increased Knowledge about the Environment. Creating and sustaining your own power makes you learn a few skill sets by necessity. By powering your own home, you’ll learn a lot more about the environment, eco-friendly practices, and how energy works. All this will happen by default!
* Pro: Diminished Carbon Footprint. You don’t waste nearly as much energy off-the-grid as you do with hydro companies. When you power your own home, you only use the energy you need. You learn very quickly only to keep things plugged in when you’re using them- otherwise, your battery is drained significantly faster. Using less energy is good for the environment and for your conscience!
* Con: High Start-Up Costs. Even though it can save you lots of money in the long run, going off-grid requires you to shell out tens of thousands of dollars… possibly more. For this reason alone, living off-grid isn’t a simple option for the majority of Canadians.
* Con: Space Requirements. While most homes would be able to generate their own power to some extent or another, an efficient off-the-grid home has a few requirements. You need to have the right type of home, as well as the right land for the energy source.
* Con: Conserving Energy Isn’t Always Easy. Most of us like our electricity. Today, we use technology for everything, including socialization and entertainment. If you’re someone who likes to leave appliances and devices plugged in for convenience and quick access, then the transition from on- to off-grid might be too difficult for you to reasonably accommodate to.
* Con: Maintenance Costs. If you’re technologically inclined, then learning to maintain and troubleshoot your own system might not be too difficult for you. However, if you don’t have the time, know-how, or drive to learn how to do it yourself, you’ll likely need someone to take care of problems for you. Unfortunately, this can get expensive- even if your system is fairly reliable.
* Con: Backup. When you live off-the-grid, you’ll likely need a backup plan in place. Even if you don’t need to worry about your hydro being cut off by inclement weather or any other reason, you should still be ready for something, anything, to go wrong. A backup plan usually means having to invest in a diesel or biofuel generator.