Technological advances are both a blessing and a curse. We have a world of information at our fingertips — however, we’re also leaving a footprint that allows our daily activities to be tracked by anyone with a little know-how. Online privacy is a thing of the past (if it ever existed). In 2009, Wired sent author Evan Ratliff on assignment to disappear, to go off the grid for one month. Wired then offered a $5,000 award to the first person who managed to track him down before the month is up. Spoiler alert: Ratliff was indeed tracked down in under 30 days.
But going off the grid isn’t just for those looking to limit the amount of private data available on the web. It’s also great way to save yourself an electricity bill and to help the environment by using renewable energy.
Regardless of your reasons for going off the grid, the benefits are appealing and the process to get started isn’t as difficult as you’d expect.
Harness Alternative Heat Sources
Electricity and oil are the most common energy sources for providing heat in most households. However, both of them leave a large carbon footprint. Investing in alternative heat sources can be just as effective at keeping your home warm. Good insulation can make a huge difference. Also, wood-burning stoves are a much more natural method of heat that don’t require electricity or oil as fuel.
Solar power has already received plenty of positive feedback. Solar panels work by converting energy captured from the sun into direct current power. There are plenty of ways to install solar panels that are efficient and easy on the eyes.
Use Wind Power
If you live in a location where the wind always blows, wind power might be a better investment for you. In fact, wind power can be combined with solar power so you still have energy if it’s a cloudy day or if the air is calm.
Live Off Your Garden
Growing your own food gives you control over what you put in your body and eliminates the need to rely on constant shopping trips. Do some research on the soil in your area to figure out what grows well where you are and plan accordingly. Gardening is not as complicated as it might seem, with a little preparation even beginner’s can have a bountiful garden.
Remove Electronic Devices
As convenient as most electronic devices are, they will forever hold you back if you want to go off the grid. Smartphones, computers and tablets can all make you easy to find and are easily traceable if you know where to look. Unplug the Internet router, turn off the phone and enjoy the great outdoors instead.
Use Your Own Resources for Water
Water is a renewable resource that can be found almost anywhere. Instead of using the water from your local reservoir or city water, dig below ground for well water. The deeper you dig, the cleaner the water you’ll find. Another water option for you is a cistern, which captures rainwater — however, make sure you filter the water if you go with that choice, as pollution from cars and factories can make the water unsafe to drink.
Use a Septic Tank
If you’re not willing to give up indoor plumbing but want to get off the grid, a septic tank will be your best choice. Septic tanks collect wastewater and, with the help of bacteria within the tank, separate any waste from the water. The tank will need to be emptied once a year, but you’ll be off your area’s sewer line with a septic tank.
Get a PO Box
If you don’t want your address being shared to people you don’t know or want to keep your home life private, you can set up a PO Box to collect your mail. Simply apply for a box at your local post office and you’ll have a box for as long as you have the lease. As long as you collect your mail in a timely fashion, you can still receive mail without your privacy being at stake.
Going off the grid has plenty of benefits. You’ll have more control over how you live, from the food you eat to the way you get your energy. Going off the grid is environmentally-friendly and helps preserve any sort of privacy you value. Once you get away from the things that constantly hold you down, you’ll be able to live the life you want to live, rather than one that is ruled by technology.