Live Green Save Green Tips For Successfully Going Off The Grid

Live Green Save Green Tips For Successfully Going Off The Grid

There’s no question that going green is a popular choice for modern day society; nearly everyone is talking about it, nearly everywhere. Going green can be as simple as sorting your recycling or choosing energy efficient appliances, to making it a complete lifestyle by “going off the grid”. Many people choose to go green because they want to help save the environment, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are several benefits to going green if you do it right. Before we delve into the financial perks of going off the grid, let’s look at a few of the ways you can conserve power, generate your own electricity and cut your dependency upon your utility company. 

One of the most commonly overlooked yet most simple ways to live green and save money on your utility bills is to work on perfecting your energy usage habits. Turn off lights or appliances such as the television, computer, or game system when you leave the room. You can also adjust the settings on things like your thermostat, dishwasher, and water heater. Conserving energy doesn’t just mean being mindful about turning off the light when you leave a room, or simply buying all energy efficient appliances, though. To properly conserve energy, your home needs to be properly insulated and weather-proofed, including sealing off drafty places such as the chimney. Purchasing those energy efficient appliances, light bulbs, and other items available will certainly play a big part in reducing your utility bills, as well. 

Another option is to generate your own electricity by harnessing the power of nature. Perhaps one of the most steadfast and reliable element is water, which can be used in conjunction with the power of gravity to move a turbine and produce hydro-energy. In order to generate electricity by this method, you have to be located near a running water source, such as a stream or a river. Considering that these bodies of water often are subject to setbacks, easements, and other limitations, it can be difficult to find a property that will accommodate a hydro-energy system. You will want to check with your local planning department before beginning any construction of a hydro-energy system to ensure that you are not violating any of these limitations. If you do manage to locate a property which will work for this type of set up, you will be in a position to take advantage of possibly the most cost-effective way to generate power.  

Wind turbines are also a good option for those who wish to generate their own electricity. These systems use a turbine which converts the energy of the wind into power which is stored in the battery for on-demand use when the wind isn’t blowing. You can find out what the typical wind potential is for your area by checking out the map below, which is available on the California Energy Commission website. California Energy Commission Map of Wind Resource Potential  There are a variety of wind energy systems available, and most will work on properties as small as one acre. Keep in mind, though, the average size of a turbine required to power an entire home has a diameter of nearly 20 feet, and they can be anywhere from 30 to 140 feet tall. The cost of a complete system for off-grid homes can be high - up to $70,000 – however there are federal incentives available to qualifying wind systems which can make this option a little more affordable.  

For most, the term “going off the grid” means going solar, but solar may not work for every situation. Many people, when first considering adding solar panels to their home, fail to take the orientation of their home or the surrounding landscape into account, only to find out that they do not receive enough sun exposure to power their home. Even a small shaded area on your solar panel can reduce the output significantly, so it is important to be aware of even the smallest shade producing factors on your property. You’ll need a way to store the energy your solar panels generate, and sometimes you can sell the unused energy back to the grid. 

Purchasing and installing the equipment required for solar power can be costly, but there are many financial benefits and there are programs available to help offset the cost of installation. According to the PG&E website, there are over 100,000 PG&E customers using solar technology with an average savings of $130 a month on their energy costs. In order to obtain those savings, of course, you have to have a system installed.  You can either purchase or lease a system, or take part in a power purchasing agreement (PPA) if one is available. If you choose to purchase your system, there are state and federal tax incentives available that may cut the cost of the system by up to 50%. 

Most, if not all, of these methods of off-grid power generation will serve to improve the value of your property, and you may also be eligible for special financing programs if you intend to go off the grid. If you are thinking about making the move to a renewable energy source, be sure to consult with an experienced lender who can help you understand all of the options that may be available in your area. You can also contact your utility company to find out what programs and incentives they may be offering to their customers, if you choose to go with a grid-linked system, or to find out about leasing a renewable energy system to reduce installation costs. Above all else, recognizing your energy needs and learning to be conservative will be the key to going green, and saving money! 

Helpful Links:

Green Homes, Eco Friendly, and Solar Homes for sale
California Energy Commission
Wind Energy Foundation
Solar and Renewables with PG&E Residential Rebates List from PG&E
DSIRE - Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Energy Upgrade California

Renée Hunt
Guest Blogger

Sean Safholm BRE#01270334 Headshot
Phone: 916-920-7000
Dated: June 23rd 2014
Views: 396
About Sean: Sean Safholm started his career in real estate in 1999 when he was going to college to study real es...

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