Author: offgridadmin

Water

Water is probably THE most important resource you will need in an off-grid, or even less-grid, situation.

So, what is it with the city water systems?  Yes, there are all the issues with fluoride treatments and so on that, so many people have problems with.  Both real and superficial.

But my problem with the city water is it tastes nasty.  My apartment is not in one of those new apartment complex communities.  It is an upstairs apartment, above a couple of businesses.  The second floor is three separate apartments.  They are small and cozy and old. Very old.

And because of that age and the condition of the pipes that bring it to my faucet, it is far from pure.  Heavy with deposits and whatever the government has determined should be in it … it tastes like … well, just bad.

So, what can you do about it?

Actually, quite a few things can be done, with very low cost while improving the quality of the water you consume.

One of the first things I did was to get a water cooler stand.  The kind that takes the large 5-gallon bottles.  I found one for sale at a closed business sale. I paid $10 for the tower which provides both hot (VERY hot) and cold water.  I paid another $5 for the 5 unopened bottles of Ice Mountain brand water.  For a guy who lives alone, these bottles lasted me about a month each.

Then … they were empty.  Well, damn.  NOW what, because the tap water STILL tastes bad.

So, I tried refilling them at the large grocery store.  This worked but was still more expensive than I wanted to pay a little more than $7 per bottle.

Time to start thinking … and investigating.  A chance stop at a big box home improvement store on a Sunday afternoon I found an ‘under the counter water filtration systems’.  A little bit of flexible tubing and I went back home, where I managed to connect it to the faucet on the kitchen sink.  Soon I had refilled one of the bottles with tasty and clean water. Without upsetting the landlord by changing anything under the sink. And it only takes about 3 minutes per bottle to fill them up, again. This particular filter is supposed to be replaced every 6 months.  Estimating one gallon of drinking and cooking use, per day, along with 4 gallons (the size of my sink) to wash, daily and another 4 gallons to rinse … call it 9 gallons of water, per day.  6 months is roughly 180 days. 9 gallons a day … That is over 1600 gallons of water through a single filter. Or over 300 refills of a 5-gallon water bottle.  Well worth the $40 spent on the filter and the tubing.

I bet a few photos of my setup would help with the explanation on this.  I will have to take some and add to this, next time I fill the bottles.

But regardless of your domicile, an apartment, a house, a farm with a shallow well or even a creek near the new homestead, a bit of ingenuity will get you the clear, clean water you need to live.

Making Plans

No matter the journey, they all start with a first step.

Transitioning off-grid will require many steps.  But the first is to imagine what living off-grid will look like to you.  Are you in the same home as you are now?  Or, have you moved to that perfect little in the middle of nothing, where the nearest neighbor is over a mile away?

Regardless of where your destination is, you need a plan on how to get there.  So, let’s start with making a plan.  And like all good plans, they start with questions.

  1. Why do I want to go off-grid?
    Do you realize that you will soon be retiring and your retirement plans will not be enough to maintain your current lifestyle?
    Or perhaps you just want to get out of town, away from the hustle and bustle?
  2. How large a home will I need?
    This is always a difficult question to answer because it can be difficult to answer.  You may be interested in living off-grid, but what about the rest of your family?
  3. Define your expected comfort level.
    Do you want cable television?
    Are you OK with using an out-house, or do your demand indoor plumbing with hot and cold running water?

These three simple questions are what you will need to answer to even get started. And though the questions are simple, the answers are far from easy.  As an example, cable television as a creature comfort. It has many solid values from entertainment to news that educates on the events of the world.  But, what systems are required to support that television?   City cable services are expensive and there is some really good programming on the ‘free to air’ channels.  But, there are more choices with city cable systems.  And out in the country … Is cable even available at the future homestead?  Or will it be a satellite system?

And don’t forget about the electrical system.  How large a television do you want to use?  The larger it is, the more power it will require.  The more work and resources and expense will be required to support it.  The same with those cable and satellite systems.  Will you be fully off-grid or just partially?  Partially, and you may have grid power to your home.  That means a monthly bill that will forever be increasing.  If you are fully off-grid, then the electricity for that television has to be created and stored so it is available, on-demand.

Start answering these questions, write them down. Consider how important each is to you.

Evaluate that indoor plumbing question. Is it really practical for you to use an outhouse?  That indoor plumbing is very exciting when the ground is frozen solid and the well-pump is buried under snow.