In recent years, more people have unplugged from what’s called ‘the grid’, which includes national energy providers as well as water supplies and waste collection. Today, there are up to 170,000 people living off the grid in the UK alone, about 40% of them in vehicles.
To grasp why so many people are making this choice, Smiley News spoke to author, filmmaker and campaigner Nick Rosen. He has first-hand experience of this alternative way of life, touring the UK in a van to visit off-grid communities for his book, ‘How to live off-grid’ in 2007. He gave us these top reasons to opt into this liberating lifestyle.
Over the next decades and even years, we’re looking at increasing environmental, social and economic precarity. Living off-grid means if the system collapses, you won’t collapse with it. By letting go of the grid, which should be a relic of the 20th century, we can solve multiple environmental and social problems such as the housing crisis in one fell swoop.
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Financial security in the long-term
With the financial benefits, it depends how far into the future you look. In the short term, it will cost the same as extending the grid to every corner of the planet. But in the long term, it should be much cheaper because maintenance costs should drop by up to 90%. With falling prices for renewable energy technology and rising prices for energy from big suppliers, it will become increasingly cost effective.
Reducing your personal carbon footprint
Knowing exactly what happens to your waste and taking control of your own energy supply means you become much more aware of how much you’re consuming. What we do as individuals is hard to calculate on the grid. You might have bins for recycling and organic waste. It gets taken away, supposedly to be composted and recycled. If you’re responsible for where that goes, you’re more likely to cut down on waste and energy usage.
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Reducing the collective carbon footprint
When it comes to collective action, off-grid living saves an immeasurable amount of energy, including roughly 30% of the energy that otherwise gets lost in transmission via the current grid system.
Being at one with nature
Taking care of your own energy supply can make you more aware of the world around you, including the sun, the temperature, the wind and water, if it’s nearby. So living off-grid often puts you in closer contact with nature, giving you a feeling of tranquillity that is beneficial for your wellbeing.
Since exploring the off-grid world, Nick has built a website of resources to help people wanting to adopt this way of life. “The biggest obstacle is lack of suitable land with planning permission.” He urges readers from around the world to get in contact with him with their ideas, saying: “I have spent many happy years in India. A lot of Indians live off grid and I think we have a huge amount to learn from Indian culture in the West.”
To contact Nick, email [email protected]