But before you race out and install your new windmill or solar panels, check out this list of important steps to take in preparation for leaving the grid behind!
- Conserve Energy
If you're planning to go off the grid, start by conserving energy in your home as much as possible. It seems silly to invest in a Renewable Energy System before you change all your incandescent bulbs to CFLs! So turn off the lights, turn down the heating, turn your appliances off at the wall each night . . . then start thinking about the big picture!
- Invest in Energy Efficiency
For every $1 you spend on energy efficiency, you will save from $3 - $5 on the cost of setting up your Renewable Energy System. So ditch the old faithful energy gobbling fridge (in an environmentally sensitive manner of course!!) and trade up to something more energy efficient. It will save you money.
- Heating & Cooling
In the USA, heating and cooling account for some 50% of the energy used in homes. So make sure that your home is properly insulated for winter and well ventilated for the summer.
Deciduous trees are a great passive solar feature in your garden. In the summer, when they are all verdant and leafy they cast a lovely shadow. In the winter, with no leaves to block it, the sun can shine through! So consider adding one (or two) if you have the space!!
- Design with the Sun in Mind
If you're building new, then consider Passive Solar Building Design. For example: Site your house to make the most of the sun, with its long axis running east/west. Use materials with thermal mass for heat storage. Use natural ventilation for cooling needs and daylight to provide natural lighting.