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 Education
- 16. Antibiotic Alternatives
- 17. Alternative Medicine/Healthcare
- 18. Rainwater Harvesting
- 19. Alternative Nutrition
- 20. Alternative Education
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 in 2021. 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 which really can save water. This is a much more achievable way 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.
Instead, when you’re starting out, what you want to do is figure out the basics first. You will need to start somewhere and it’s a good idea to get started on the basics before moving onto more complex things like solar power or constructing your house from recycled materials.
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 in 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
If you live in a very windy area or off-grid home with lots of sun exposure throughout the day which isn’t provided by photovoltaic cells (or other means), you may want to consider installing a wind turbine or wind generator if you have some extra space and available money (plus an extra $200-$300).
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 save from not having to buy power through the grid 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 whatsoever, whereas a battery has to be monitored and maintained. However, batteries can become depleted or damaged if the charge is left in an untended state.
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 (e.g. years and 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 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
One of the best ways to save money and provide yourself with alternative heating at the same time is using an electric wood stove. This will allow you to use less power in order to heat your home and you’ll be able to save money on energy costs every month by not having to rely on other methods for providing yourself with heat.
6. Alternative Cooking
In order to save money, you can either cook using an electric plate or some other alternate method. The most popular option is cooking with a solar cooker which only costs around $60. You can then use it to cook food for free as long as there’s sun shining.
7. Alternative Lighting
To save money, you’ll want to consider using alternative lighting such as a gas powered light bulb or candle lights if you’re off the grid for the long term (e.g. years). 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)
As mentioned above, 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 and then using those solar panels 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
In some countries, alternative medicines and treatments are far more effective than those available through modern medicine or hospitals. For example, natural herbs can be used as a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or antihistamine without any of the side effects that come along with conventional medicines such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol
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 without having to rely on any outside sources.
If you’re able to live in an area with plenty of sun exposure (e.g. Florida, Arizona, Hawaii), then you can grow whatever you’d like or 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.
12. Alternative Fuel/Energy
There are many ways to produce energy from sustainable sources without any of the associated costs. For example, you can generate electricity with a homemade wind turbine or solar panel (e.g. using your car engine as an alternator).
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. For example, you can make your own wood stove out of recycled parts from an old car, a barrel drum, or even wooden pallets.
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 wearing cheap clothing from Walmart and avoiding anything that needs dry cleaning or special upkeep (e.g. a suit).
This will make it easy for you to avoid purchasing any extra products such as detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc… which adds up quickly.
15. Alternative Education
A free alternative to traditional education is using instructional videos on YouTube in order to learn new skills or gain additional knowledge without paying the high costs of education (e.g. tuition, textbooks).
You can also use a kitsune – the Japanese version of an iPad – if you own one in order to download free books that you can read on your device without having to spend any money.
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 curbed illnesses and infections rather than causing them.
17. Alternative Medicine/Healthcare
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 which will allow you to store the water until it’s used (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 for later use (e.g. canning, drying).
20. Alternative Education
Alternative education includes anything that doesn’t involve books and regular school classes. 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).
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 (e.g. inexpensive clothes from Walmart vs expensive suits).
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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