As the cost-of-living crisis sends costs skyrocketing to an all-time high, it is no wonder that more and more people are looking into off grid living in the UK. The idea of disconnecting from the busy city life and instead returning to your roots and living off the land can sound like the idea of heaven for a lot of people.
But how exactly do you get started?
Living off the grid sounds like a great idea, but it can leave people asking themselves questions like “how to live off the grid?” and “What is living off grid UK?”. In this blog post, we aim to answer all these questions and more in our handy living off grid UK guide.
Looking for a quick answer? Check out our drop-down menu below!
- What Is Off Grid Living?
- Why Do People Decide To Live Off Grid?
- What Are The Advantages To Off Grid Living?
- Is It Legal To Live Off The Grid In The UK?
- Off Grid Energy Options
- Off Grid Heating Options
- Step By Step Guide To Off-Grid Living
- Is Off Grid Living Good?
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What Is Off Grid Living?
Off grid living is a term used to describe a lifestyle that is disconnected from the modern world. Instead of being caught up in the busy hustle of day-to-day life, people who opt to go off grid are self-sustainable and live a life without the modern pressures of society.
Off grid living means that you will be spending the majority of your time outdoors and relying on self-generated electricity, producing your own food and finding your own source of water.
Why Do People Decide To Live Off Grid?
There are many reasons why someone may opt to live off the grid. Not only does it offer a stress-free alternative to the busy modern life but:
- Offers peace of mind
- Offers an opportunity to return to nature
- Halve annual utility costs
- Reduce CO2 emission
- Clean growth strategy
What Are The Advantages To Off Grid Living?
There are plenty of advantages to off grid living UK:
- You will be living a much healthier lifestyle as you will be away from pollution, noise and stress of the urban lifestyle
- You will be able to live as remotely as you want
- You will save money in the long run as you will be able to sell any spare electricity back to the grid as well as having no more utility bills to pay
- You will become completely self-sufficient
Is It Legal To Live Off The Grid In The UK?
Yes! Off grid living in the UK is completely legal. There are no laws against people living off grid in the UK. Because of this, as long as you have permission to live off the land you are staying on, then there is nothing to stop you.
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Off Grid Energy Options
Living off the grid UK means self-sustainability and providing for yourself. One of the key aspects of this new way of life is to generate your own electricity. As you will be disconnected from the national power grid, you will have to find your own way to generate power and electricity for things such as light, heating, and running general appliances.
There are four main ways of generating power. These are solar, wind, hydroelectric, or a hybrid system that combines solar and wind. Usually, these energy sources will be connected to a battery bank that will store the energy that is generated until it is required.
Which source of energy generator you use depends on your situation and where you are living, and each has its own sets of pros and cons.
The use of solar panels are a popular choice among the off-grid living in the UK community. They also require zero maintenance and use up the dead space on your roof.
Alternatively, if you have enough garden space, you can also use ground-mounted solar panels.
Wind power is a popular choice for those for whom solar panels are not a viable option. Domestic wind turbine design has improved greatly over the last few years and they are now smaller and quieter than ever. All you need is sufficient wind passing close to your property and you can have clean energy, day or night.
The downside to using wind turbines is that they not only require wind but that they also often bring with them planning issues as well as finding somewhere in your garden to keep them that is not an eyesore.
Also called micro-hydro, hydroelectric power is a great energy generator if you leave near a body of running water. It is clean and it also produces energy day and night, regardless of the conditions.
The downside that it brings is that very few off grid properties can take advantage of it.
Hybrid power systems work by using a combination of solar and wind in order to generate energy through a wider range of weather conditions. This is useful as if you live at a property where there is not as much wind and sun as you would like you can use this option to generate power instead. It is particularly useful during winter days when the weather in the UK is duller and breezy.
However, they are also incredibly complex to install.
What about if there is no wind or sun?
If there is one thing that we can all agree on it is that British Weather is temperamental at the best of times. It can be easy to see why some people do not like the idea of relying on the weather as their main source of energy.
Without the grid connection, if your renewable energy source is not available then you are left without power generation. However, this is where the backup generator comes in. The majority of solar, wind, and hybrid systems can be set up with a backup generator that can be configurated to start automatically should the battery storage get low or left to be manually started.
The backup generator will be able to keep you with a power source until the renewable source is up and running again.
Why Not Use A Generator Full Time?
Whilst a generator is able to provide you with usable energy regardless of the weather, it is not a sustainable option to provide you with power full time.
The main reason for this is cost. Whilst a generator is a great backup plan for if your renewable energy source is briefly out of action, they require a steady stream of petrol or diesel to keep running.
They are also noisy and require a lot of maintenance. This is in part what makes them an ideal backup as they are effective when needed but are not cost-effective enough to be run full time.
Off Grid Heating Options
When it comes to heating your off-grid property, there are three main options for heating during the winter months. These are using a ground source heat pump, thermal batteries, and passive heating, or through a wood-burning stove.
Ground Source Heat Pump
A ground source heat pump is a heating system that can be either drilled down into the earth or laid in the ground horizontally. It digs down far enough so that the earth is warmer and uses water-filled pipes that soak up the heat and bring it into the home.
The water collected is then pumped back into the house and then sent into the ground to soak up more heat. Heating your home with a ground source heat pump is one of the most popular heating systems however it does require a lot of drilling and digging in order to effectively heat the home.
Thermal Batteries And Passive Heating
If you are undertaking a conversion or planning a new build, then thermal batteries may be an option worth looking into. They work by using mass such as concrete walls or floors to collect the sun’s warmth during the day to release it slowly over time.
The downside to thermal batteries is that they take a few years to get up to temperature and are not guaranteed to work in every situation but they can be an effective way to passively heat a home. Alongside superior insulation, thermal batteries can provide a constant base temperature all year round.
Wood Burning Stove
A wood burning stove is another popular option for heating your off grid home. They can work in all different types of homes, are low maintenance, easy to fit, and can generate a significant amount of heat.
The only downside to a wood burning stove is that it requires a reliable source of fuel.
Step By Step Guide To Off-Grid Living
Before you can embark on your living off the grid UK lifestyle, you first need to understand what steps you need to take.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most important parts of your off grid living UK journey is to decide where you want to start it. Finding the perfect location for your new life is a key part of the process as you need to find somewhere that suits your needs. If you live in the UK, you may want to purchase land for you to start your off grid living journey. If you do go down this route, it is a good idea to check if you still need to pay council tax that correlates to the size of your purchased lot.
If you are going to purchase land, there are a few extra factors you will need to consider first:
- What Kind Of Land – Before purchasing land you will need to think carefully about what kind of land you want. A lot of off grid livers choose woodland as it is abundant in fuel sources and building material, whilst others prefer more open spaces like fields to live off.
- Fertile Land – Another aspect you will want to consider before purchase is how fertile the land is. As you will now be self-sustainable,fertile land is a must as it will allow you to have the best chance of growing your own produce as well as for raising your own livestock.
- Water – The third and most important factor when it comes to choosing a location to live off of is water. It is crucial that you are near a water source as it is vital to survival. Look for land that is close by to a river, stream, or well and remember to purify the water before use.
If you are living on a plot of land and planning on building your off grid property from scratch, you will need to seek planning permission as soon as possible.
Converted shipping containers are a great choice for people who wish to live off grid as they are classed as a ‘temporary structure’. This means that they are exempt from any planning permission. The same goes if you plan on starting your off grid lifestyle in a static caravan or a yurt.
However, unless you will be living in one of the previously mentioned structures, you will need to seek planning permission.
Planning permission is necessary for the following cases:
- If you are planning to build something new
- When you want to make a big change to your building
- When you want to change the use of your building
Source Of Power
Whilst off grid living UK means living away from the national grid, it does not mean your life will be completely devoid of electricity. You will still need a source of power in order to use your fridge, washing machine, portable oven, and other household devices.
As previously discussed, there are many different ways of generating power. The main ways are solar, wind, hydroelectric, and hybrid. Each of these brings its own positives and negatives depending on your off grid living situation.
Water is a key element to surviving in an off grid environment. You should aim to be as close to a water source as possible when choosing your off grid location. However, this is not always possible. This means that your options are to either collect rainwater or bore water. If you decide to do either of these options, then you will need to purify and sterilize the water before it can be consumed.
Collecting rainwater will require an underground water tank to collect the water then you will need to filter it using a special system. This can be costly as it often costs £10,000 or even more.
If you decide to use a borehole, you will first need to arrange a geological survey before going ahead with anything. There are several services and companies available in the UK that will both arrange the survey for you and drill the borehole for you.
Another third option is to use something called an off grid box. An off grid box is often deployed after natural disasters as it can provide you with drinking water and electricity.
Food is another big part of the off grid living UK lifestyle. In order to live comfortably off grid, you will need to learn how to grow your own food and raise your own livestock. This will mean that you are not having to travel far for groceries as you will have a supply of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and meat on your doorstep.
There are plenty of resources available both online and at libraries and bookshops that can offer advice and tips on how to set up your own vegetable patch, how to store produce, how to rear livestock etc.
Waste And Drainage Disposal
The final aspect of the off grid lifestyle that needs to be considered is waste and drainage disposal. Improper disposal will spell trouble not only for you but also for the land, nature, and the environment.
There are two common ways to dispose of waste:
- Composting Toilet – This is the most popular option used by off gridders. A composting toilet is both waterless and compact and most importantly, does not smell.
- Soakaway – A soakaway is a simple hole in the ground that is filled with stones and rubble and allows surface water to percolate back into the ground. The hole should be around 1m deep.
Is Off Grid Living Good?
Whether or not off grid living UK is good is down entirely to the individual. Whilst off grid living is not for everyone, as long as you go into your off-grid journey understanding exactly what it will entail and what it will mean, then there is no reason why you would not enjoy it.
This covers everything you need to know about off grid living in the UK. If you have any questions, queries, or insight into the subject, please do not hesitate to get in touch!