Going Off The Grid Once A Week

Caught a post recently about “off the grid” living over at Five Cent Nickel, and the author had an interesting idea I’d like our family to adopt.  His arrangements sound a lot like ours.  Like us, he found it nearly impossible to live off the grid 100% of the time when you are living in the middle of a neighborhood.  If we were out in the country it might be just as much of a challenge, but at least there we would have more room, and more freedoms to try to pull it off.

off the grid vegetable garden
Photo courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance

Still, suburban living is no excuse for not finding creative ways to become a little more self-reliant.  So beginning tomorrow, each Saturday morning we’ll throw the breakers to the “Off” position (all but the circuit controlling the refrigerator and freezer) and go 24 hours without power, intentionally.  Obviously, we don’t want our food to spoil as that would not be very frugal.

To prepare for such an experiment, I’ve been trying to brainstorm the pros and cons of going off the grid once a week.  Here are a few of the obvious ones, and a couple that seem like minor annoyances we can work around.

Pros of an Off the Grid Saturday

Lower utility bill. Not sure how much lower the utility bill will be, but I’d like to think not running the air conditioner, computers, lights, televisions, etc. 14% of each week would have some positive effect.  Because laundry will still need cleaning we’ll probably use the washing machine, but not the dryer, opting instead to line dry clothes, or use a drying rack.

More family time.  I imagine without me being huddled around a computer, and the kids parked in front the Wii, we’ll find more family time to spend together.

More outside time.  As a family, we’ll probably look for ways to escape our dark house and get outside for some fresh air.  It would do us all to get outside more, particularly on the weekends when we aren’t cooped up in school or the office.  We can spend the afternoon gardening, playing basketball, and take a leisurely stroll or bike ride through the neighborhood.

Cons of an Off the Grid Saturday

Resetting clocks on oven, microwave, radios, etc. This may seem like a minor thing, but resetting the time drives me nuts!

The heat. I’m jealous of those that live places where they don’t need air conditioning.  I live in the south, and here air conditioning is a must. Not only do the temperatures climb near the triple in the summer, but the humidity is unbearable. 90 degrees here is sweltering compared to 90 degrees in drier climates.  For this reason, it might be tough to go without AC (and ceiling fans) during the hottest months.

After giving it some thought, we could probably leave the electrical panel alone and simulate not having power by turning off the air conditioner at the thermostat, keeping all electronic devices off for the day, and not using lights. That way we can still make use of ceiling fans, not worry about killing power to refrigeration devices, etc.  Now I just have to sell this idea of living off the grid once a week to my wife and kids.  And that could prove to be the toughest part of the entire experiment!  I’ll follow up next weekend to let you know how it goes.

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