Living off the grid: Why some people are choosing to pull the plug

With the price of mains gas and electricity on the rise over the past few years with no sign of coming back down in the near future, many people are turning to alternative energy sources to heat and power their homes. Some of which are opting out of mains gas and electricity all together. You’re probably wondering if that’s even possible and the answer is yes! With the help of thorough research, determination and number of resources it is possible. There are many reasons why people choose to create their own form of energy, such as the desire stop relying on the production of fossil fuels, saving on electricity bills and also completely cutting out the risk of experiencing a blackout.  

Electricity alternatives

Most off-grid homes that do not have access to electricity will often use a battery store. A bank of deep-cycle batteries will usually power the average home for approximately 5 years according to the Energy Saving Trust. The size of the battery store will depend on the size of the property and the level of consumption. Electricity from the batteries can be used to directly run low-voltage lighting. However standard appliances will need to be powered by a mains voltage AC instead of direct current which is produced by the batteries. An inverter is used to change this current so it can power normal appliances and run them as normal.  

Mains gas heating alternatives

A number of renewable energy sources are available for households that choose not to live connected to the mains gas grid.

  • Solar energy- With the use of solar panels, sunlight can be used to generate heating, hot water, electricity and for domestic purposes as well as commercial. This is providing there is sufficient sunlight. This might not be the most effective option as it is difficult to check how much energy will be generated and in months when there is not a lot of sunlight there is a risk of running out of energy.
  • Wind energy- Wind energy is used when warm air rises and cooler air rushes in to replace it. This is captured by wind turbines and used to generate electricity. These are often used for industrial purposes. However, small scale wind turbines can be used for domestic use. Approximately 40% of all the wind energy in Europe blows over the UK, which makes it ideal for generating wind energy for domestic use.
  • Biomass- This is a wood fuelled heating system which can either be used to heat one room or to power central heating and hot water boilers. This involves burning wood logs, pellets or chips. The price of logs vary but on the whole it is an affordable way to heat your home whilst reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Geothermal energy- This is the when the heat from inside the Earth produces steam and hot water that can be used to generate power and produce electricity which can be used for home heating. The heat pumps are often buried in the garden, underground heat stays at a relatively constant temperature under the surface so the heat pumps can be used all throughout the year.