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Off-Grid on a budget?

2756 Views 16 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Mrs.Prep
I'm looking for ideas of going off-grid on a budget. I'll be honest, I'm a cheap a$$! I look for the best deal on the best product I can buy (goes for anything I purchase). My power company recently had a 7.5% hike in power rates! :eek: Talk about ouch...My husband and I travel for work and are not home most of the time. My power bill was about $80 month before last (just air and fridge basically) and this past month it jumped to $146!!

We live in KY so I'm looking for other do-able forms of energy. Be it solar or wind. I'm not really sure where to start though. I want to do this a little at a time so as not to go into debt trying to make myself energy independent. Also, would you recommend tying to the grid (and selling back) or have it as a separate entity?

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The first step should always be conservation. Replace all your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. Look for ways to reduce your usage like sealing up doors and windows and maybe adding insulation to lower your air conditioning loads. Consider getting a smaller or more energy efficient refrigerator. This will save you money now and even more so if you do go solar.

It's not cost effective to use solar electric for heating hot water or cooking. Propane or natural gas is cheaper, so look at your water heater and range too.

Once you do all that, consider adding a small solar setup to power your biggest energy users, especially refrigeration. Check for any "green energy" programs in your area. You can often get help with part of the system cost. If you have to start small, start small. You can always add more later, but be sure to cover the absolute essentials first.

I would suggest a grid tie system. In effect, a grid tie system uses the existing grid as its batteries, which can greatly reduce cost and complexity. Add some batteries if you can, especially if you suffer from frequent power outages. If power outages are rare, consider storing a few batteries dry (along with enough electrolyte to fill them if needed) to use if the grid goes down for any length of time.

Edited to add:
Solar hot water is something to look at too. These systems are relatively simple, and many DIY tutorials are available online.
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Some of the best prices I have seen are from Northern Arizona Wind & Sun

Be sure to look at total cost to your door. Adding in freight costs might make local sources cheaper in the long run.
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