For those who are considering building an off-grid home but don’t have the funds to do so, this post is for you. Here I’ve outlined multiple low-cost methods for building an off-grid home.
This includes making use of solar power, wind power, rainwater harvesting and purification systems, sustainable materials like burlap and raffia cloth (or other natural fibers), and finally, composting toilets .
These alternatives are not only proven to be a lot more sustainable, but are also much more achievable ways of living without breaking the bank.
Other things that are fairly simple to do are prepping the soil for gardening (install a compost toilet or make it on-site), building your own wood stove, installing solar panels and so on.
It’s very common for people to purchase too much equipment for their house when they’re first starting out. However, what you’d want to do when starting out is figure out the basics first.
Otherwise, immediately jumping to more complex things like solar power, or constructing your house from recycled materials might prove more costly.
In This Article
- 1. Water Filter System
- 2. Solar Panels
- 3. Wind Turbines and Batteries
- 4. Sewer and Septic System
- 5. Alternative Heating
- 6. Alternative Cooking
- 7. Alternative Lighting
- 8. Communications (Phone and Internet)
- 9. Alternative Medicine
- 10. Alternative Food
- 11. Alternative Recycling
- 12. Alternative Fuel/Energy
- 13. Alternative Transportation/Transportation Pollution
- 14. Alternative Clothing
- 15. Alternative Career Advancement Methods
- 16. Antibiotic Alternatives
- 17. Alternative Ointments
- 18. Rainwater Harvesting
- 19. Alternative Nutrition
- 20. Alternative Education
1. Water Filter System
The most effective low cost method of capturing rainwater is a simple water filter system. In countries such as Japan and Singapore, this can be done for under $100. The following is an example of one that you could build yourself:
2. Solar Panels
If you live in a sunny climate area, you could install solar panels to power your home. This will allow you to produce power for free and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. When working with solar panels, make sure they have the highest efficiency rating possible and pay close attention to any warranties on them (e.g. initial warranty period, if applicable).
Some of the more popular solar panels are the Sanyo – CS20PCS, Sanyo – CS20PCS, Sanyo – CS22PCS, and JA Solar panels.
3. Wind Turbines and Batteries
Consider installing a wind turbine or wind generator if you have some extra space and available money (plus an extra $200-$300).
This may especially prove helpful if you live in a very windy area or off-grid home with lots of sun exposure throughout the day.
Wind generators are expensive for large turbines capable of generating power for hundreds of homes on a single site.
However, you can get smaller ones such as the Hydor/Windy Boy 10″ Wind Generator which costs around $250.
If you do have lots of sun exposure and are able to install a wind turbine, it’s probably worth it to invest in one. After all, the money you’ll save is enough to pay for a decent wind turbine.
Batteries are another alternative for powering your house if you have some extra money to invest in them.
You can use 14-Volt or 12-Volt batteries and either charge them with solar energy (or other renewable energy sources) or by using an alternator which is powered by your car’s engine.
One advantage of using a wind turbine is that it requires no maintenance, whereas batteries can become depleted or damaged over time.
4. Sewer and Septic System
It is important to remember that you do need to have a sewage system in place if you plan on living off-grid for extended periods of time (i.e. several weeks to many years).
Many new ideas for off-grid homes involve converting your septic tank into a compost toilet which creates no smell or chemical waste from human activity.
This is a great idea because it prevents the need for pipes or a septic tank, and it only takes 4-5 years for your compost toilet to become fully functional.
If you do want to build a compost toilet, you’ll need to get some burlap or raffia cloth in order to cover the bottom of your toilet. This will ensure that it’s easy to remove waste and that there is no smell.
The two most popular types of composting toilets are the Clivus Multrum and the Sun-Mar Excelsior.
5. Alternative Heating
An electric wood stove is a great source for alternative heating. It’s low-cost and efficient, and allows you to save more dollars from your utility bills.
It’s also fairly easy to install and maintain, while also producing a good enough output to warm up your space.
6. Alternative Cooking
Cooking with an electric plate or some other alternate method to cook is another great way to save money.
Among the more popular alternative options is the solar cooker, which only costs around $60. Because it’s solar-powered, you only need it t collect enough sunlight to power it up.
7. Alternative Lighting
Consider using alternative lighting such as a gas powered light bulb or candle lights if you’re off the grid for the long term.
This will ensure that your energy usage is reduced in order to keep your monthly bills down, and save yourself money in the long run.
8. Communications (Phone and Internet)
The easiest way to save money and maintain a stable internet connection is to use a cell phone as a backup.
In some areas of the world, cell phones are free or incredibly low cost in comparison to other things that you may need such as electricity or food.
If you don’t have a cell phone, it’s possible to get an off-grid solar-powered setup, which involves cutting down trees in order to make solar panels.
These panels can then be used as your primary source for power. In most cases, you won’t need to worry about getting a cell phone in order to save money.
This is because most off-grid homes are used for recreational purposes and not practical living. You can also get a satellite phone that can call people from pretty much anywhere.
9. Alternative Medicine
Using alternative medicine can be good to know for first aid, especially if your location is not as accessible, and so may take a while to get help to.
However, application of this should not be taken lightly. It’s still preferable that you rely on tried and tested science to avoid making matters worse.
Still, there are certain natural herbs that are proven to be effective as pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or antihistamine.
What further makes them a good choice is that they don’t have any of the side effects that come along with conventional medicines such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
Just the same, make sure to do your research first, and approach this matter with utmost care.
10. Alternative Food
In addition to self-sustaining farming (e.g. growing crops that are edible for humans and can be eaten raw), you’ll want to consider off-grid gardening as a way of producing your own food.
If you live in an area with plenty of sun exposure (e.g. Florida, Arizona, Hawaii), then you can grow whatever you’d like.
Either that or you can set up a greenhouse which will allow you to produce enough food to survive in the long term without having to pay anything for it.
If you don’t already know how to create a self-sustainable garden, be sure to check out our Gardening For Preppers (The Mega Guide) article to learn more.
11. Alternative Recycling
In some countries, recycling is better than trash disposal. For example, in Japan, there is a huge network of recycling facilities where old cars can be recycled and turned into new cars.
In the same way, you can use a recycling program to your advantage and turn certain items that you already own into something that can be used to live off the grid, such as propane canisters or batteries.
By the way, if you want to know how to build a natural planter, our article on how to hollow out a log for a planter is for you.
12. Alternative Fuel/Energy
There are many ways to produce energy from sustainable sources without any of the associated costs. You can generate electricity with a homemade wind turbine or solar panel (e.g. using your car engine as an alternator), for example.
Another idea is to use firewood to produce heat and light, as there are many ways to create a wood stove that will provide you with free or low cost heat and light.
Making your own wood stove out of recycled parts from an old car, a barrel drum, or even wooden pallets are some ideas to consider.
13. Alternative Transportation/Transportation Pollution
In order to reduce pollution on the road while still being able to travel long distances (e.g. to work, to the store), it’s best that you rely on public transportation or a bicycle.
If you do want to purchase your own vehicle, then you’ll want to buy an old car with no air conditioning and rebuilt transmission or a diesel engine.
This will ensure that your car uses less gas and also produce less pollution as well.
14. Alternative Clothing
There are many ways to reduce the cost of clothing such as going to thrift shops or recycling old pieces into newer styles. Your old pair of jeans, for example, can be converted into a pair of shorts.
Avoiding anything that needs dry cleaning or special upkeep, like a suit, is also advisable. Not only does it save you money, it also saves you costs from detergents, fabric softeners, and other special washing needs.
15. Alternative Career Advancement Methods
Do you want to learn a new skill? Perhaps even get a new certification for a licensed profession.
Most of the time, you’ll need to attend special courses, seminars, or trainings conducted by professional agencies. Now, however, you can go to alternative instruction sources.
There are plenty of educational apps available that give you access to a wide variety of learning resources from around the world.
This saves you money from having to enroll in these programs for certification, while at the same time allowing you to complete your customized track at your own pace.
16. Antibiotic Alternatives
Some of the most common antibiotic drugs (e.g. penicillin) can have harmful side effects, in addition to being expensive to produce (e.g. amoxicillin).
There are some alternatives that are easy to make at home, such as homemade toothpaste or cough syrup that can be used for illnesses and infections.
Again, it’s crucial that you do your research first if you’re keen on switching to this.
17. Alternative Ointments
Alternative medicines that may be easier to make at home include natural pain relievers such as Tiger Balm or Butter.
Some other alternatives that you can make are salves or oils such as wheat germ oil or vegetable oil (e.g. cooking oil).
18. Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater is one of the most common forms of water in almost any country. In order to use rainwater, you need to learn how to collect it in a container and then use it as part of your water consumption needs.
There are several different ways that you can collect rainwater, such as collecting it directly from your roof or simply installing a rain barrel that will allow you to store the water for later use (e.g. irrigation system).
19. Alternative Nutrition
There are many natural sources that can provide the same benefits that we get from eating food from our supermarket, such as wild rice or alfalfa grass.
You can also eat some of the wild berries and fruits that are found in the woods or city and learn how to preserve them (e.g. canning, drying).
20. Alternative Education
Alternative education includes anything that doesn’t involve regular school classes and curriculum.
Some alternatives include online classes (e.g. Massive Open Online Courses), educational videos on YouTube, or podcasts about learning a new skill (e.g. woodworking) that you can immediately apply.
You can use many of these techniques to reduce the cost of living to the point where you can live off the grid with little to no money.
Some of these methods may require you to purchase something, such as an alternative energy device, a replacement part for your car or home, a set of new clothes, etc.
However, you’ll find that many of these items will last a long time, and that it’s possible to reduce your current monthly expenses if you utilize some of these suggestions.
This will make it easy for you to spend less and save more money while also being able to live off the grid in the process.
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Heat is only great for relieving sore and aching muscles, not for sprains. Applying heat to a sprain will only make the swelling worse.
It’s important to know whether you’re only dealing with a sprain or if there’s bone fracture involved. However, this can only be determined with an X-ray. So what can you do to ease the pain in the meantime?
Instead of heat, apply ice on sprained area for about 20 minutes to relieve the swelling. But don’t apply the ice directly, otherwise your skin might get damaged. In case you don’t have the ready-to-use ice pack, you can simply put ice cubes in an ice bag or plastic bag. Make sure to wrap it in a thin towel or cloth to protect the skin from ice burns.
For the first 24 hours, use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).