DIY





Living Off Grid - Does It Cost More?


| 8/29/2012 4:06:54 PM



Almost DoneI’ve been wondering how all of these off grid lifestyle changes add up for costs compared to how I lived before. By lifestyle changes, I mean living off the grid compared to living on the grid.
Remember I define living off grid as supplying my own sewer, water, and power. It may mean other things as well but those three things are the most common criteria. Did I save money by switching from on grid to off grid or not?

First of all, let me be clear - we can’t make a perfect comparison. That would be impossible. Just take solar power vs. public power for instance. Every single power jurisdiction in the US charges a different rate for their product so my comparison would vary according to what part of the country I lived in. The same goes for sewer and water costs around the country. They vary considerably depending on where you live.
It also depends on what kind of home you build and the size of it. Propane or natural gas costs also vary depending on your location.

So how can I make a cost comparison between on grid and off grid living? I can look at my own circumstances in a very simple way and at least get an idea about the above question of costs. I am a professional estimator by trade so I know the difference between exact comparisons and simple comparisons. I’m not doing this exercise for accounting purposes but rather just to get an idea of what MY circumstances are and how WE came out cost wise by making this change in our lifestyle.

I live in a well insulated home in the Eastern part of the state at an elevation of 4200’. A relative of mine lives in a similar size home in the western part of the state at sea level. So already we have a discrepancy in elevation which is a big factor in this exercise. That’s okay, just take that into consideration when reviewing the numbers I am about to share with you.

Both on grid and off grid homes are 1400 square feet.

Here is a simple list of MONTHLY COSTS:



OFF GRID                                                                                             ON GRIDSolar Power  $73.00                                                                        Public Power  $48.00
Propane  $46.00                                                                                Natural Gas   $88.00
Water  $38.00                                                                                    Public Water  $37.00
Sewer  $21.00                                                                                    Public Sewer  $40.00
TOTAL  $178.00                                                                                  TOTAL  $213.00

Rusty
2/20/2016 7:49:38 AM

Comparing off-grid living to on-grid services is, to me, an apples to oranges issue. The capital cost of going off-grid actually becomes an asset that if maintained by limits real depreciation whereas using public services becomes a direct, continuous liability and maintenance and cost rules governed by the service suppliers. When it comes to personal finance, I'm all the more concerned about all the unknowns about future cash flow and find comfort in knowing that my "services" that I supply off grid are cash flow positive and immune to the factors that affect everyone tied to service suppliers. I'm more in control, which gives me a lot of comfort knowing that if it breaks, I can turn the lights back on or make the water run. This to me, has a lot of real value than cannot be measured in dollars and cents.




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