At times, modern living can be really hard, and so many people around the world have chosen to start living their lives in very different ways, some of them have chosen to live an off-grid kind of lifestyle. We’ve written a few posts about living off the grid, and we’ll be going over off grid building and living off the grid in the UK in this post.
Off-grid living simply means living on your own without being connected or relying on urban infrastructure. Off-grid building is the process of building a property that can sustain that way of life. You’ll want to be generating your own energy, using your own supply of water, and maybe even growing your own food.
So the question is, can it be feasible in the UK to live off-grid? The brief reply is yes. In the UK, you can live off the grid and begin to experience a life that is free and independent. Other than that, in the long run, living off the grid often means you save a lot of money. You will be supplied with electricity, heat, water and food by the environment.
Of course, along the way, there are obstacles. It can be daunting and might even seem impossible to transition into this new existence. However, many people around the world have done it, and despite the challenges, they have completely embraced this off the grid lifestyle. So here is how it can also be achieved in the UK.
What Does Living Off Grid Mean?
Generally speaking, where you want to live off the grid in the world doesn’t matter. As I mentioned briefly, at times, this way of living can be difficult. In order to get it up and running, there is an initial investment to be made and a hard job to be done. But, in the end, you’re going to follow your dream of living off the grid in the UK.
As you will be removed from urban life and utilities, you will probably spend a lot more of your time outdoors, in nature. You would need to generate your own electricity, have a supply of water (and, if necessary, purify water), maybe cultivate your own food, and know how to manage waste and sewage.
You need to be prepared to know how to cope with unpredictable conditions (such as bad weather) and how to repair, fix, and construct things on your own. You will be the one entirely responsible for preserving your new home and community off the grid.
To be on your own and with your family alone, you will need to be ready and relaxed. You can be far away from your mates, but you can still be in touch through the off-grid Internet, so you’re not totally isolated from the modern world.
Advantages of Off-Grid Buildings & Living
Now that you’ve had a quick taste of what living off the grid means, here are some of its advantages and benefits, both in the UK and across the globe:
You’re going to start living safely, away from pollution, noise, and a chaotic urban way of life.
In the long run, you will save a lot of cash, since now that you live off the grid and entirely on your own, you will have no more energy bills.
You can be autonomous and happy, and you will become more responsible for your environment and the way you live your life without the worry of not being able to pay high bills from energy companies — all in a natural environment, surrounded by nature.
As you live in a self-sustainable world, you can learn to become completely self-sufficient.
Start Living Life off Grid: Step by Step
So, now you know what it’s like to live off the grid. To make your dream come true, let us continue to explain what steps you need to take.
How To Find and Choose An Off-Grid Location To Build?
When deciding to live off the grid, this is undoubtedly the first and most important thing. You’ll need to find a plot of land that is both sustainable and acceptable for living off the grid. Consider purchasing a piece of land for your new house if you live in the UK. Don’t forget to search, however, if you still need to pay council tax that corresponds to your purchased lot’s size. To avoid unintentionally violating them, review the local rules.
If you find a suitable property, before you can start building your new off-grid home, you will likely need to learn and obey local planning restrictions (see below).
Here are a few more important items to take into consideration when deciding on a land type:
Woodland: A very good choice, as wood can be both a source of fuel and construction material.
Arable land: A fertile land that enables you to grow food as well as raise livestock on your own.
Your Water sources: As there is no life without water, you should select a place that is near a water source. Freshwater is important to life, so prefer a place near a stream, river or well, and if necessary, remember to purify the water.
Getting Planning Permission To Build
You don’t have to think about planning permission if you want to live the off-grid lifestyle in a tent or a yurt. Although, if you’re looking to move into a permanent home, you’d need to go through the approval procedure for UK planning.
In the following instances, you will need planning permission:
- When you’re planning to build something new
- When you want your building to make a big improvement,
- To change the use of the building if you need to
Please visit the Planning Permission website for more about UK planning permission and to learn how to apply for it.
How To Power Your Off Grid House
A viable plot or current house that is fully off-grid is difficult to find since it has no access to either gas or electricity.
Many self-builders and renovators, however, would have to do without either one or the other. Some also want to go totally free of fossil fuel and build a home that is fully fuelled by renewables.
If your plot or project can not be linked to one or both of the key supplies cost-effectively, but you are still willing to move forward, the most important approach would be to minimise the energy demand in the first place.
The things that use the most energy are usually heating systems, stoves and burners, so start by designing to minimise or even eliminate the need for it.
For example, if you build on Passivhaus concepts, it is possible to do without space heating completely in certain instances before the outside temperature drops below zero. That’s because the solar benefit, occupation, cooking and lighting warmth is adequate to keep the internal temperature within appropriate levels of comfort.
For electricity, the same concept applies. The need for artificial sources can be significantly minimised by producing plenty of natural light. In the circulation areas of buildings, such as corridors and stairwells, as well as in living areas, this is very significant.
Living off the grid does not mean that, as in the old days, you have to live in the dark. You can still produce power and enjoy contemporary appliances. You can charge your laptop or mobile phone, use a TV, a portable oven, a washing machine, and other appliances to make your life easier.
When you install solar panels on the roof of your new house, you’ll start to understand why it’s the most popular way to generate power and electricity while living off the grid. Bear in mind that in order to store this energy, you will need batteries. Each appliance often uses various amounts of energy, so make sure that you have enough batteries to hold all the electricity your home needs.
Wind is used by some homesteads (wind turbines). Others, if they are close to a water source, use water power (hydroelectric power) to produce electricity, though the setup can be very costly. As I said before, using solar panels is the most common source of generating power and electricity.
What To Do If There’s No Power
There are some approaches you can take if your site is very off the grid, and you have no access to mains electricity. You could opt to operate your home solely on renewables; on generators based on fossil fuels, or a blend of both. Here’s a closer look at the possibilities:
Renewable Power & Batteries
For most domestic renewables, the issue is that the supply is intermittent. For example, when there is adequate sunlight, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels produce electricity, they won’t be able to do that at night when you’re most likely to need the lights on inside of your home. With micro wind turbines, it’s a similar story, as they can only work when there is enough wind to start charging your batteries or powering your lights.
Suppose you are fortunate enough to have a constant stream running through your plot, with enough flow and head to provide hydropower. If the stream flows 24/7 and the hydropower is almost silent in service, then you could say that this is the most efficient type of renewable energy, but very few individuals are lucky enough to have an adequate stream on-site.
What everything boils down to and what we’re trying to say is that adding battery storage is the best way to get clean power at all times. This means that when the sun shines or the wind blows, electricity produced can be used later on, when it is needed. The downside is that, on top of whatever renewables you install, the addition of battery storage will add £6k or more to your installation costs.
Make sure you do your calculations carefully if sustainability is important to you. If the power demand has already been reduced to a minimum, the environmental effect of the power generation and storage plant in relation to the carbon emissions you will save in usage becomes more relevant. Therefore, if the energy demand is low, it is possible for a fossil fuel solution to deliver a lower overall environmental impact than renewable systems.
How To Get Water To Your Off Grid Building?
It would be nice if you could live near a water source that can provide water for drinking, cooking, washing and, generally, living. That is not always possible, however. So, rainwater and bore water can be your choices for water supplies. Naturally, prior to use, you should purify and sterilise the water because it can be polluted.
Rainwater collection is always a possibility, but to collect the water and then filter it using a special device, you would probably need an underground water tank. It can cost £ 10,000 or more for this setup.
You would need a geological survey for a borehole. Luckily, in the UK, there are facilities and businesses that organise such a survey and even drill the borehole for you. Visit the following website for more detail about how to obtain a borehole.
Using something called the Off-Grid Box is another interesting choice. Almost anywhere in the world, it will provide you with drinking water and electricity. In developing countries or those who want to live off the grid, this box is often used. And in the case of a natural catastrophe, it can be deployed.
Heating Your Off Grid Home
Efficiency-wise, heat pumps are possibly the best choice when it comes to heating your off-grid home. This incredible invention works by taking the heat out of the earth. Alternatively, the outside heat may be taken, bringing warm air into the home.
Biomass and thermal collectors provide other solutions for heating your house.
For heating purposes, you can also buy portable heating equipment and items that are not bad at all. I’ve written a separate article about different types of heaters that can warm up your new house in either a tent or a house.
Growing Your Own Food
It’s time for you to start to grow your own food if you really want to live and eat off the grid. For dairy products and meat purposes, you can grow vegetables, fruits, grains, raise livestock, create a coop, and more.
What Drainage and Waste Disposal Will You Need For An Off Grid Property?
This issue is often ignored and overlooked, but you need to have a waste disposal plan. Not only does improper disposal harm property, nature and the environment, but it may also result in fines.
Two ways to dispose of waste are common and popular:
Toilets For Off Grid Living
Composting toilets are constructed by many off-gridders. In their size, they are waterless, compact, and do not smell (completely odourless).
That’s an easy hole you’re digging in the earth. It is filled with coarse stone and debris, allowing the water on the surface to percolate down into the soil. The hole ought to be 1 meter deep (give or take).
How Much Will It Cost To Live Off Grid In The UK?
The initial expenditure (land, building, different equipment, septic system, power system) and the regular costs are incurred (household items, maintenance, Internet, healthcare, taxes, and so forth). But do not let these costs stop you from making your dream come true! You can also see benefits with the right management. I invite you to my post on the costs of living off the grid if you wish to read more. The rates are in USD, but I believe the reasons are also applicable to the UK.
Off Grid House Plans
There are lots of places to buy off grid house plans online these days and you can also instruct an architect to design your off grid eco home for you with all of your eco solutions in mind. Get an electrical engineer to plots everything so you can utilise all of your renewable energy sources and to make them fit in with your design and to make you feel at home in your self build or in your off grid prefab.
Prefab Eco Homes
Prefabs are a quick way to build your dream off grid home. They can be made to your specification or you can choose an off the shelf design.