Others choose to live completely off-grid by digging wells or using a cistern system to collect water. A septic tank takes care of the sewage and, just like that, no more water bill either.
It's impossible to get an accurate count of exactly how many people in the United States practice off the grid living, but in 2006, Home Power magazine estimated that more than 180,000 homes were supplying their own power.
"Follow this advice about off the grid living from a 20-year veteran of producing utility-free electricity.
Lesson: Purchase additional solar panels as soon as you can afford them.
In hindsight, I wish we’d had the money to purchase more photovoltaic panels sooner. Each additional solar panel has made off-grid living more comfortable — ah, the simple joy of a toaster! — and has given us more confidence to use less propane and more solar-powered electricity for our cooking and baking.
Lesson: Build a root cellar for electricity-free food storage.
We have a cistern below our kitchen, which we use as a root cellar. The cistern is cool but never freezes, and it has a high level of humidity, which is optimal for storing our garden vegetables. We put up a significant portion of staple crops this way and continue to experiment to find vegetable varieties that keep well.
Lesson: Multiple Methods to Heat Water.
About 60 percent of our hot water comes from our solar hot water system. During cloudy days in late fall and early winter, neither of our systems produces enough hot water for us, so we rely on our woodstove. We always have large kettles of water on the woodstove to keep about 10 gallons of hot water on demand. During winter, we fill large stockpots with water and heat them up on our woodstove for baths. We bathe in a cast-iron claw-foot tub that absorbs the water’s heat and radiates it back into the bathroom throughout the night."
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