planning for off grid
These are the first steps we took to make the change from city living to off grid living. It describes the questions you should ask before you buy property and the research required to make sure you can do want you want with your property.
How we avoid most clutter but manage to keep good leftover products for future use.
A comparison of costs between on grid and off grid utilities for our circumstances.
A typical day of activity on a modern homestead and off grid.
Things that occur when switching from summer to winter mode. Fall is almost non existent.
Going off the grid offers complete energy independence — no utility bills, no grid outages, ever — but it takes some effort, and you will need to learn how to conserve energy.
When Paula and Matt learned that running a utility line to their rural Vermont home would cost the same as buying solar panels, they never hesitated. Now they're living the good life, off the grid.
Selecting a power option for your homestead.
A brief description of our experience with a masonry heater.
A short simple explanation of how to project your electrical needs in order to size your electrical off grid system.
This post is about our water cisterns and what we use them for. It also contains a caution that many local governments would like to tell you what you can and can't do with rainwater.
Things to look for in your soil before you break ground on your new home or cabin.
Some of the downside of free ranging your chickens.
How we have adapted from salt water fishing to freshwater and what we do with our catch.
What it is like to live higher up.
This blog is an introduction to how we went from a condominium lifestyle to off grid modern homesteading in the mountains. It also includes an explanation of the meaning of "off grid".
This blog is about all of the choices we have for the type of home we want for off grid living and some of the construction materials involved. It turns out there are a multitude of options we have to choose from.
How both we and the chickens have gotten better at surviving the cold winters where we live.
Two easy steps to reduce your electrical use whether you live off grid or not.
Things you can do to prevent fire damage to your home from an external source.
A description and pictures of a tornado force winds in Washington State in 2012.
A short history of my own horse riding adventures.
A simple explanation of our solar power generating system and cost.
A quick look at different ways to be sustainable whether you are off grid or not.
Fun facts about our first year of blogging for Mother Earth News.
A brief description of our experiences with solar tubes in our off grid home.
Success at growing food at the 4200' elevation and some of the challenges.
Tips on how to keep water away from your home and water damage prevention.
When we moved into the country, we had no idea that small critters would be such a nuisance.
A description about something unique - a wood burning masonry kitchen stove.
A brief description of how we grow fresh vegetables in our long cold winters.
Design features we incorporated into our new off grid home.
An article about when the best time is to start a new homestead.
This is the last of a series in home and energy options available to us. It is a short summary of all of the choices we have when designing a new home on or off grid that will benefit your energy use.
Blog post number 17: Jeff solves the problem of how to use higher-efficiency D/C power for long run-time loads, while using some A/C appliances as well.
If you want to live independently, it's always good to have backup because no one else is coming to the rescue. This is how we did it.
Liza Fleischer was a suburbanite through and through when she met her husband, Ted, who she says was "born 100 years too late." Now they live in a solar- and hydro-powered hand-built home on 160 acres in Vermont--and she loves it.
Deb and Tommy have spent just $7,500 to set up their off-the-grid homestead in Oklahoma's Kiamichi Mountains, which relies on one 80-watt solar panel for power. As they learn more, they will continue to build their systems.
After a wildfire destroyed their off-the-grid compound in Colorado, Betty and Rolland rebuilt—better than before—following Rolland’s creed: no plywood, no plastic and nothing that smells bad when it burns. The wildlife around their home approve.
Lack of interest threatens ClimateSmart, a program that helps PG&E customers in California offset their carbon emissions, is about to be cut.
Details on a cool new carbon offset program from Volkswagen.
A look at the advantages and disadvantages of “off-grid” and "grid-tied” solar electric systems.
Instead of throwing out that empty feedbag, get creative and turn it into something new! Homesteader Ed Essex shares ideas for finding new uses for old objects.
There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.
Each year we learn more and more about living off grid and homesteading. These are just a few of the third-year experiences we wanted to share.
The documentary film “Beyond Off-Grid” is nearing completion and includes a dozen specialists across the United States living self-reliant lifestyles.
Learning to appreciate seasonal differences.
The cost to install and operate our solar electrical system.
The benefits of limited lighting and no electricity.
Providing your own sewer, water and power can be more expensive and is certainly less convenient but that's not all there is to consider. This article takes a look at some of the other differences between public and private services.
It takes commitment and determination to live remotely in the mountains.
How to cope mentally with living in a remote location.
Unforgettable Fire's Kimberly and Katydid wood stoves are heating solutions for any and all spaces.
Cam shares some of the things he is grateful for....
We look for materials bargains while devising a way to pay for it all.
What's the most efficient way to boil water?
Michael Strizki proves that living off the grid doesn't have to mean sacrificing comfort.
Technology allows us to live where we live, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with!
Cam describes a recent adventure involving round bales, train tracks and a stressful drive home.
Sharing our first experience with an indoor/outdoor vertical hydroponic garden.
Sometimes being off grid doesn't necessarily mean that you're green.
Developing a sense of place by shaping and stewarding the landscape.
Cam discusses the decision to go off-grid or on-grid and shares his experience with batteries and the dangers of high winds to solar panels.
After the snow leaves to do list for us.
Tips for snow removal around your house and down the road.
In this blog we share someone else's story about old fashioned home made ingenuity concerning deep well pumps that operate without electricity.
A snapshot of winter life living remote and off grid.
This is the hands on portion of how a solar power system operates.
How to make your OWN insulated window coverings.
Kate and Jeff are building their off-the-grid dream near Taos, New Mexico. As they build themselves a small straw bale house and make do with a few solar panels, they're realizing how little they really need.
Things we have done to earn an income from home in a down economy.
How and why we chose to have a livestock guardian dog and what they are like.
These seasoned off-the-grid veterans have found that hefty batteries make for a happy home.
Where we have chosen to draw the line between convenience and sustainability - for now.
Short stories about our chicken experiences
Things we did to make our new home more sustainable.
Our first experience as a vendor or spectator at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA
Options for phone service if you live in a remote location that doesn't have cell service or landlines available to you.
How to make insulated shades at home.
How we stay busy in the winter even though we live at 4200', three miles off the road, and somewhat isolated.
Sue McKay Miller divested herself of nearly everything she owned and moved into a yurt in the wilderness to determine how much she really needs to live a satisfying life. Turns out, she really doesn't need much.
Costs associated with providing your own water.
Our take on the positive and negative points of insulated concrete forms.
Short description of our solar system and the everyday things we do to operate them.
An article about how we learned to double our growing season and have home grown fresh veggies almost all year long.
When a fire destroyed their home and office near San Luis Obispo, Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper seized the opportunity to build the off-the-grid straw bale home of their dreams. Their comfortable compound now houses two other families as well.
Michael Funk's 6,000-square-foot off-the-grid home and retreat center on 1,200 acres in the Sierra Nevadas is an heirloom, handbuilt with reverence for the spectacle that surrounds it. He hopes it will inspire every visitor to preserve the paradise.
Sustainsia’s compact, green-built work pod could solve my office needs.
A look back at how we’ve become addicted to electricity and its conveniences since the Great Depression.
How did Victoria Redhed Miller and husband David end up living on an off-grid homestead in the foothills of Washington State's Olympic mountains? Grid? What grid? Electricity was something one took for granted; it came from those outlets on the walls. I was hardly aware of it except during one of the infrequent power outages.
Learn about our experience attending a Mother Earth News Fair as an exhibitor.
An upcoming inspirational documentary, “Beyond Off-Grid,” that strives to motivate people to return to the old paths, includes self-sufficiency experts from around the country. A MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog prompted the producer to contact us.
Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.
Real life experiences with chickens spanning a 50 year period.
With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.
The generators we use for living off the grid and a multitude of other tasks.
Ed and Bruce compare the weather and its impact on their mountain homesteads at different elevations and mountain ranges.
Cam looks back at the challenges of moving to his off-grid home.
Mountain homesteading in a remote area.
Using snowshoes to keep our paths and trails open as the snow piles up.
Tips to help you get started planning your very own homestead. With proper planning you don't have to be experienced to do it right.
Darning socks is a simple thing to do - and a statement for self-sufficiency!
Why manual water pumps are making a comeback and how to select the right type for a homestead.
Outside of a few rare equipment failures, we’ve never had a power outage in the past 20 years that wasn’t our own fault — usually caused by not paying attention to power use or proper battery charging. Weather failures, on the other hand, are starting to become noticeable.
Cam describes the benefits of writing this blog and his recent book.
Our experiences in learning to pressure can and use reusable canning lids.
A typical winter morning chore - cleaning off the solar panels.
The difference between power and energy and how it relates to toast!
Cam is handling this heatwave much better thanks to his solar-powered air conditioner!
again, rushing to beat the weather as we close in our finishing our hand-built cabin
Cam shares his experiences getting lost in the woods.
An amazing, off-the-grid Welsh hobbit house was built in less than four months and for less than $5,000.
Cyndee and Tony love being in control of their own power and never having to worry about rate increases and outages in south-central Colorado. Solar panels, a wind turbine and a wood-fired boiler keep them plenty warm and happy.
This part of the series deals with window size and location, ceiling heights, eave length, and other design and passive design choices you can make for your new home. These choices apply whether you are on or off the grid.
Since they built their solar- and wind-powered cordwood home in Desboro, Ontario, Lisa and Ray Racicot have never looked back. The only thing they'll do differently next time is install the renewable energy systems first, to power the construction.
Tell us what you think. If you installed a wind turbine or solar-electric panels, would you want to be tied to the electric grid, or would you rather have a grid-independent system?
Here are a few ways to know if a business is supporting green practices or not. Green practices are increasingly more and more important as companies increase and continue to have a large impact on the environment.
A roof is a wonderful thing to have!
Today's a great day to follow our tips for creating a home office that's easy on you and light on the planet.
Rhode Island plans to install large wind far off it's Atlantic Ocean shore.
A few thoughts on why so many people are hesitant to make the transition to produce their own power.
Two homesteaders discuss their experience with the weather applicable to their mountain homesteads in Washington and Colorado.
Build your own wind generator for use with 12-Volt systems. Charge up batteries for lighting, fans, tools and more.
Cam contemplates the amount of energy that goes into our food production and shows how he prepared corn for freezing the zero carbon way!
An introduction to Cam Mather's off-grid home and lifestyle.
Who knew that making a soda so delicious was so darn easy?! This office experiment is our most rewarding yet. I mean, Marlin is cool with his aquaponic system and all, but I definitely don’t want to drink fish water. (See aquaponic blog.) Our ginger beer is so refreshing, surprisingly effervescent and just plain awesome! So you’d like to know how to make it yourself, right? Well, I will gladly share the steps and recipe with you.
Once our bodies and our imaginations are engaged, the incremental change begins. Then it gets easier and easier to envision humanity occupying this planet–this beautiful, abundant planet–far into the future.
Ode to our hand saw...why we choose to live without power, and what we've accomplished by hand.
As Offlining urges cyborgs to turn off their Blackberries, Neo-Luddites question technology's exponential encroachment on our lives.
Use old jars to make these cute, inexpensive candle lanterns--for a fraction of what you'd pay if you bought them at the store.
Amid rising gas prices, some people think offshore drilling in America is the answer, but is it worth it? Also, read an opinion piece by Mark Weisbrot.
On Sept. 30, the offshore drilling moratorium expired, and the energy battle between the Democrats and Republicans began.
Your local county extension office can answer questions on gardening, livestock, poultry, crops, garden pests and more.
A strong partnership between Cascades and Office Depot to deliver on customer need for softness and strength while significantly reducing total environmental impact.
We finally build somthing!
Cam loves sharing his homesteading skills in Hands-On Workshops at his off-grid home.
Cam & Michelle recently enjoyed a visit from an ethnographer who is studying off-gridders.
The thrill continues living in our handmade house.
Rancho Margot in Costa Rica is completely off the grid and constantly closing the circle. Nothing is wasted on this self-sufficient ranch, where everything is considered a resource--including methane from the compost ovens.
We haul our water from the river - walking water!
Announcing an opportunity to get Anna's new Ebook for free today at Amazon on the subject of homesteading in a mobile home otherwise known as a trailer.
Making the most of a winter walk to home.
Gift cards to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner are now available for just $25.
Where environmental groups claim financial incentives for recycling to be a costly and unnecessary form of expenditure, we see them as the only realistic option available which actually produces the desired effect.
Time often isn't looked at as a resource - at least, not outside of corporate efficiency evaluations - but it's one of the most valuable resources any of us have. It's required for all the plans and hopes that we have, from learning to bake bread to building a self-sufficient homestead. How do you spend your time, and how would you like to?
Recipes and ideas for meals with less meat.
Here are some helpful resources to help you determine when to take care of various lawn and garden tasks, such as planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, mulching and harvesting plants.
University of Maine leads the United States in clean-energy technology, thanks to the development of a grid-connected wind turbine off the coast of Maine.
In light of the environmental, economic and other damage caused by the Gulf oil spill, has your opinion about increased domestic drilling changed? Yes or no, we want to hear your thoughts on the topic.
An explosion at a British Petroleum oil rig has caused a massive and growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Lousiana coast. Here is an account of where the spill stands at the moment.
Hundreds of Gulf Coast oil spill workers have fallen ill with flu-like symptoms related to oil exposure. News reports claim that BP is not allowing workers to wear respirators, despite the potential long-term respiratory and neurological consequences workers could face.
Finding the right balance between obligations can be a challenge.
At last, we construct the foundation.
Jeff and wife Kathy have lived off-grid since 2002. They strive to inform the public about ways to live inexpensively, and to further the principle of sustainability. Visit their website to learn more: www.naturalpower.weebly.com
Our power system begins to take shape.
Our humble abode begins to take shape.
We bring power from the array inside the building and put it to work.
Instead of learning new tricks, we devise new ways to do the same old tricks.
We settle in for a long winter's work.
Has the "magic" energy solution been discovered?
We finally see walls and a loft floor.
Planning a party? Let wabi-sabi’s influence lead to a casual, comfortable gathering.
New investment in clean energy reached $243 billion last year, driven by soaring activity in China, offshore wind and European rooftop photovoltaics
An affordable prototype home helps revitalize a blighted Syracuse, New York, neighborhood--and could be the city home of the future.
Although the well that caused the BP oil spill is now dead, the spill’s effects live on. Debate about oil dispersants, such as Corexit, and concerns regarding the settled oil on the ocean floor that came from Deepwater Horizon continue to grow. To understand how the spill impacted and continues to affect the Gulf of Mexico, MOTHER EARTH NEWS spoke with Ronald J. Kendall, director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
Recent approval by the Obama administration of the Massachusetts based Cape Wind project creates the potential for 130 offshore wind turbines, which are predicted to produce up to 468 megawatts of wind power.
A Garden Planner subscription is a budget-friendly gift that offers the satisfaction of spending the chillier chunks of the calendar plotting the bounty ahead.
A new report from Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center details ways that city officials can harness the power of sharing to transform their cities for the better.
Interested in seed saving but worried about mistakes? Have questions about seed saving? Here’s the chance to give your input in a new seed saving class!
June is a beautiful and bountiful time in the garden. It is also not too late to put in a garden! With a few tips, you can get the best harvest ever.
Contributing Editor Barbara Pleasant provides tips to help users get the most out of the new MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner. This interactive software will help you plan your best garden ever!
It’s been bitterly cold in Michigan. The big blizzard has gone through and has left us with a bunch of snow.
Keep your garden full all season by planting the next crop as soon as the previous crop is harvested. Tips for deciding what to plant next.
Know how many seeds you need for your area considering germination rate and extras.
Readers share tips and recipes for cheaper, easier and healthier home cooking.
Let's stop for a minute and think about what we are doing!
Texas is already the U.S. leader in wind power, and that lead is about to get even bigger.
“Grow a Sustainable Diet” is an upcoming book (spring, 2014) that helps you plan what to eat and what to grow, feeding you and the Earth while maintaining a small ecological footprint.
Try using the Grow Planner app to streamline your garden planning and your garden work.
We have some exciting additions to announce about our award-winning Vegetable Garden Planner program and our new Grow Planner iPad app, including new seed company catalogs, a filter tool, a favorites button and an app update.
Our Vegetable Garden Planner assists you in planting your fall garden by giving you planting dates specific to your location, projected harvest dates and more.
Reading between the lines of the seed catalog variety descriptions is a science and an art. How not to get carried away by all the positive exclamations and miss some basic fact that would tell you this variety is not for your farm? This post provides tips.
A well-thought-out garden design will make your work enjoyable and manageable and will encourage the gardener's presence and attention.
With the fence in (just barely), this rainy Wednesday looks just perfect for planting.
Chives and mint come to a duel for territory in the herb garden, while the spring sap-sucker marks time.
With the Drought Pod, the organic mass is inside the pod where it never dries out and by planting the tomatoes, or any vegetable directly beside the barrel, the plant roots can tap into the nutrients and moisture as they so choose.
Twin Oaks Seed Farm’s focus has been producing seeds on contract for a handful of small seed companies. The author discusses involvement in starting a new cooperative retail seed project, Common Wealth Seed Growers.
Seed Germination depends on Soil Temperature. Transplants need to survive a late spring frost. Here are some handy charts and a lookup tool that will help your timing for a successful garden.
April's tips for controlling weeds and fertilizing your garden.
The garden is 58 by 112 feet and it's planted!
Peppers and tomatoes are some of the easier plants to save seed from. This post covers isolation distance and introduces basic seed saving techniques.
Get advice on all things garden seed, from organizing seeds and ordering seeds to understanding seed catalog terms such as open-pollinated and F1 hybrid.
Tips for keeping your tomato plants healthy.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Rachel shares the basics of landscape design.
Plan fall cover crops to feed back the soil and leave the bed ready for when you need to plant the main crop next year.
Using 16-foot livestock panels in many ways on your homestead.
Strategies for controlling voles in the potatoes in your garden.
Don’t let the cost of gardening keep you out of the dirt this year. Cheap gardening can be fun and easy. With these tips for gardening on a budget, you’ll save on seeds, make your own fertilizer and impress your friends with your gardening know how.
The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force has proposed numerous changes, including coastal and marine spatial planning, to keep a constant eye on our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. Will increased regulations help us avoid future accidents in our most treasured bodies of water? Tell us what you think about the proposed changes.
A wedding using homegrown and local food and no disposable items. Decorations were things already on hand. The ceremony took place in a field and the reception was in a barn...and there was love-lots of it!
The term "living off the grid" can be used in different ways, but it means something very specific when you start looking at producing electricity from renewable sources.
As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to
expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Nov. 7, 2012, a lease for commercial wind energy development 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.
If we want more electricity from renewable sources, we need to think about upgrades to our electric grid.
Welcome to by blog “City to Country, One Step at a Time.” Here’s how I ended up as a modern homesteader on a little acreage in the Canadian West Coast bush.
If you are growing vegetables, making a few homemade wares here and there ... you are practicing good, old-fashioned homesteading techniques.
Our efforts to improve energy efficiency in the United States might be faltering.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has started a global campaign to help reduce food waste worldwide.
This post outlines the basics of garden planning to save seeds from cucumbers, melons, squash and gourds.
Discover how to grow various members of the onion family: bulb onions and scallions, leeks, garlic, ramps, shallots, and chives. Each one has different requirements and habits, yet all are rewarding for organic gardeners.
Prepping for major emergencies - earthquakes, floods, tornadoes - is important, but so is emergency planning for less dramatic events. Find out what you can do to reduce the potential for stress.
How our community has planned ahead for wildfire contingencies.
We sat down for an interview with James Duft, the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair Planner and Programming Manager. Read about what you can expect to see, do and participate in if you attend the upcoming Fair in Puyallup, Wash. Sheep dog training, cheese making, bread baking and antique tractors await!
A tour of the gardens at Southern Exposure, where we're taking advantage of warm sunny days in February to get our gardens ready for intense planting ahead. But there's still plenty to sow, indoors and out.
Begin your garden planning with what,and particularly how much, you want to eat. Take a look at what you are eating now and go from there.
Eat carrots from your garden all winter! A little planning goes a long way toward more food with less work. Learn how to start with a winter cover crop of rye, with carrots following next in the rotation, maturing by the time the first frost.
How can someone who claims to be a 'modern homesteader' not have planted her garden by the end of June, you ask? Well, let me tell you...
Consumers are intrigued by smart grid technology, but they need a lot more information and better tools before they'll participate.
The beauty and refreshment of our swimming hole are a swell compliment to work and sun of our homestead.
For many homesteaders, taking a job during the winter months to earn extra income is an appealing option. Here are some options to consider if you're looking for off-farm income.
There's lots of good information on renewable energy in this new NPR series on electricity in America.
We have the technology, today, to make our power grid more sustainable, cleaner, more robust and more reliable just by replacing old-fashioned metering with “smart-metering” and agreeing to pay homeowners who generate electricity.
Only 43 percent of Americans know what smart grid technology is, and of those, 70 percent don’t really understand how it works, according to a survey released today.
Ira Wallace explores good winter gardening reads, gives advice on how to use the winter lull wisely to plan and prepare, and shares an update in the ongoing court battle to protect family farmers from agri-giant Monsanto.
An overview of groups, initiatives, planning certifications, and neighborhood developments that promote sustainable communities, including Transition initiatives, ecovillages, One Planet Communities, LEED for Neighborhood Development, and others.
It's easy to find out what fuels your power comes from using this nifty tool from the EPA.
Experts say that that bathroom and kitchen remodels--once a sure-fire way to move a home for sale--aren't necessarily the ticket anymore. Creating a house that feels homey and welcoming is most important.
At the gardens of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, we're preparing to plant sweet potato slips, hardening off transplants, and enjoying an abundance of spring cabbage. Learn tips and tricks for getting your transplants ready for the great outdoors.
A year-long study in Oklahoma found that consumers who used energy-tracking technology and pricing plans that let them analyze their usage can cut their consumption in half.
We use more water than we need in our homes every day. If you’re curious to know how much water your own home might be wasting, check out this infographic on U.S. residential water consumption from eLocal.com.
To freshen up your home without a major remodel, clean up and invest in lower-cost fixes such as paint, hardware and window coverings.
A stack of cast-iron pans and a chainsaw helmet sum up why these homesteaders do what they do.
Finally! Design experts and contractors say granite and marble have lost their luster. Find beautiful, natural alternatives to that and solutions to other common design mistakes, including dull color pallettes and overused water features.
Outdoor kitchens, dining areas and living rooms are a great way to expand your home's living space. Designers offer advice on how to make the most of the great outdoors--in your own backyard.