Off the grid – household tips from unplugged communities

Light bulbSo many of us are hooked on power these days and we rely on electricity to do everything from waking us up in the morning to sending us off to sleep again at night. However, not everyone is so dependent on the national grid, and people who live ‘off the grid’ often have inspiring ideas to share. It doesn’t matter whether you want to save money on electricity prices or whether you want to contribute to saving the planet, these tips can help to cut your electricity habit.

First, look at how you can reduce energy by changing back to older technology. For example, consider how much electricity gets used just to wake the family up. The alarm is usually the first thing most of us hear every morning and it’s usually the most disliked thing we hear all day. There are all kinds of sophisticated gadgets for dragging unwilling humans from dreamland, ranging from clock radios through to screaming klaxons and gentle dawn simulators. You could reduce your usage and also cut down nocturnal gadget glare by emptying your bedroom of wired alarms and reverting to a good old-fashioned alarm clock. It will never let you down in a power cut, and all you need to do is remember to wind it up each night before going to bed and enjoying the soothing tick of a real clock.

A more dramatic step is to do a mini-audit of how many items are powered by electricity throughout your home. Many children have TVs, tablets and phones in their rooms. Not only can this stop them from getting a good night’s sleep, it can push up your electricity bill to previously unseen heights. Consider making bedrooms just for sleeping (especially for younger children) and having a central TV and computing area. You’ll see a lot more of your children and it will be easier for you to make sure they’re surfing and viewing safely.

The next step is going partly self-sufficient. This isn’t as worrying as it sounds as there are hundreds of products that are easily available to help you to do this. For instance, it is possible to buy and install solar lighting and heating systems and even small windmills. Many energy companies can provide advice on obtaining, installing and financing these products. Not only will you feel the satisfaction of no longer being totally reliant on the national grid for your power, if you create more power than you use, you can sell some back to energy companies.

Of course, being entirely self-sufficient can put you at the mercy of our somewhat changeable weather. That may be a step too far for those who want to save money or do their bit, but who aren’t quite ready to rely entirely on the vagaries of the British climate. Spend some time considering what would work best for you and your situation. It might be that a small windmill might be suitable for you. To find out whether you’re in a good area, it’s best to monitor the wind speed for a couple of months to check whether it’s fast enough. This is relatively easy to do by using a simple wind gauge and checking that you get regular strong wind at over five metres per second.

Even if you don’t manage to go entirely off grid, it can give you great peace of mind to know that you have a back-up plan and you can look forward to beating the current energy price hikes in the UK.

This post is in association with ovoenergy

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