In energy terms, “going off the grid” means living independently from our national electricity supplier and becoming self-sufficient by generating your own energy. An increasing number of homeowners are taking the leap towards grid-independence – and with good reason. Quality renewable energy solutions are often more dependable than the grid, and can help homeowners to beat the rising cost of electricity. Many conscientious people also choose renewable energy alternatives because they want to minimise their carbon footprint.
Keep in mind that you can become more energy efficient without severing your ties to the grid completely. In other words, you still receive electricity from the national utility, but supplement it with self-generated clean energy and replace your old electric appliances and geysers with energy-efficient alternatives. You can also install a backup system that you can tap into when your self-generated electricity supply is insufficient.
For many people, it is all or nothing when it comes to grid independence. They might live in a remote area where there is no access to electricity, or simply be determined to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Whatever your reasons, if you are thinking of going 100% off the grid, there is one thing you should know: It is not that simple to get back onto the grid once you are off. That is why you have to ensure that you install a home energy solution that meets your energy requirements 100%, can be monitored and adjusted when necessary, and comes with a backup plan. Here are three things you should do before going off the grid:
- Define your energy requirements.
Consider factors such as the energy efficiency of your home, the size of your family, your budget, your location and your lifestyle. An energy expert will be able to guide you, but even before you speak to your supplier, you should have an idea of what you expect and need from a home energy system.
First, keep in mind that the size of your home does not necessarily determine the size of the energy system you require. A large house may have been designed and built for optimum energy efficiency, and could therefore use less electricity and require a smaller system than a more modest house. Take a look at your monthly electricity bill and compare costs with friends and neighbours – if you think you are paying too much for electricity, your home is probably not as energy efficient as it could be.
Your lifestyle is another important consideration. Some people naturally use less electricity than others. If your family goes to bed early, your electricity needs will be different to night owls that keep the lights and television on until midnight. Are you outdoorsy or go away every weekend? You may need less energy than homebodies.
Your location will also determine which home energy solution is best for you. The Western Cape, for example, has wet, overcast winters, so a heat pump is a better option than a solar water heater, because it does not need the sun to generate energy.
Lastly, your budget will ultimately dictate the size of your home energy solution and to what extent you can break free from the grid. Remember, even if you cannot spend a lot at first, you can always start small and build onto your system over time.
Once you have an overview of your unique energy requirements and know how much you are willing to spend, contact your supplier. They will conduct a full home energy assessment and work with you to find a customised home energy solution. Your monthly electricity bill is a useful tool in assessing your energy consumption, and in some instances a logger is installed over a certain period to determine your exact usage. This helps the installer to meet your expectations, while living up to their professional service standards.
- Monitor your system.
Once your home energy solution has been installed, ask your installer to help you monitor the system to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. Many installers offer advanced solutions that can be used to monitor and control your system in real time. You will, for example, be able to see when the system is overloaded and about to trip, when the storage batteries are low or your solar PV system is not generating enough energy. This keeps you and your installer informed about the state of your system so that you can make the necessary adjustments to enhance its efficiency.
- Install an integrated heat pump and water storage tank as a backup.
There are times when your home energy system may be unable to generate enough energy to fulfil your household’s needs. One such scenario is when there are long periods of cloudy days and your solar PV system is unable to generate enough energy for your household’s needs. It is quite costly to install enough batteries to meet your energy requirements during an unforeseen time of insufficient energy generation.
So to ensure your energy requirements are met, Energy Partners Home Solutions often suggests installing an integrated heat pump and water storage tank. Not only will this ensure that you will be able to take a warm shower even during a power outage or when you are not generating enough energy, but it will also help you save money: Water heating accounts for almost half of a household’s electricity consumption. Installing a heat pump and storage tank can cut this by 70%.
Speak to Energy Partners Home Solutions.
If you are ready to become less dependent on the grid, reduce your electricity bill by up to 70% and live greener, speak to the energy experts at Energy Partners Home Solutions. Their home energy solutions are modular, which means they can be customised to suit your unique energy needs and budget. The Energy Partners Home Solutions team will be there with you every step of the way: From installing the right solution, to monitoring and optimising your system.
Call Energy Partners Home Solutions on 0861 000 606 for a free, non-obligatory home energy assessment or visit www.poweryourself.co.za.
Energy Partners, part of the PSG group of companies, has been helping some of South Africa’s most well-known businesses save on their energy costs for over seven years. Energy Partners Home Solutions, a division of Energy Partners, brings the same award-winning solutions to the residential and SME markets by combining state of the art energy efficiency technology, solar PV systems and expertise with Energy Partners Home Solutions’ own advanced products. By partnering with Energy Partners, clients can reduce their monthly electricity bills by up to 70%. For more information visit http://www.poweryourself.co.za/ or contact 0861 000 606.