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Living Off the Grid: What Are the Costs?

For years, you’ve tried to live in an eco-friendly manner. You unplugged appliances and turned off lights when not in use. You diligently recycled, or perhaps even composted your organic matter. You installed low-flow toilets and an ENERGY STAR washer and dryer set.

Sometimes, though, your attempts seem like a drop in the bucket. Lately, you’ve been considering going off the grid, a more drastic step toward green living. You’re still in the planning stages, so it pays to ask yourself: what are the costs of living off the grid?

Learn more below, then compare homeowners insurance to see how you can save on your premiums now and in the future. While moving to a remote homestead may be a few years (or decades) down the line, some of your green efforts in your current home may actually qualify you for discounts now.

Energy

Going off the grid usually means building or buying a home that doesn’t connect to a power service’s electricity. So, if you want power, you’ll have to make it yourself. You have a few options here: you can harness the power of the wind with a turbine or you can put up solar panels.

The installed cost of solar panels is approximately $7 to $9 per watt—and having them professionally installed is a good idea, or even a legal requirement in many places, because it involves working with dangerous, high-voltage wiring. This puts the price tag of a typical 5-kilowatt system between $25,000 and $30,000. Of course, after a payback period of years or decades, you’ll break even. And the good news is that the price of solar panels continuously drops over time.

A wind turbine capable of powering a home averages about $30,000, but there are often subsidies available.

Water

Living on the grid affords you the privilege of not thinking twice about water. But living off the grid means you’ll have to establish your own system. According to The Off Grid Cabin, here’s a breakdown of common costs:

Well: $7,000

Septic tank: $5,000

Waterless composting toilets: $1,000 to $2,000

Reusable grey water system: Varies

Heat

When it comes to heating a home, you have options. Some homeowners utilize a geothermal heat pump that “takes advantage of the constant temperature of the earth eight feet below the surface,” as Living Off Grid Guide writes. These systems cost around $7,000 at the low end of the spectrum, but may average around $20,000. Other homeowners use solar energy for heat.

Yet other homesteaders turn to propane, wood-burning stoves or fireplaces as their main heat sources. Be aware that these methods may present a higher risk of damage or disaster, thus making you uninsurable. As one underwriting officer told Fox Business, “If someone is living in a house with no heat and no water, that’s not somebody we would like to insure. If they have wood fireplaces or coal stoves, that’s not something we want to insure. Now you’re talking about a fire hazard. But geothermal and solar are different. They’re safe.”

Going off the grid takes careful planning and saving. It’s good news that in the meantime, you can implement some of these energy-saving measures in your current home to lesson your carbon footprint and save on your utility bills (and homeowners insurance premiums). Compare homeowners insurance with CoverHound to learn more!

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