How to go off-grid

How to go off-grid

As you’ll know if you have been following us for a while, off-grid living has been a dream of ours since we set out on this Portugal adventure. To be able to live within our means, to grow our own food, power our lives with the help of natural resources and to cut down our carbon footprint is our ultimate goal.

Living a more efficient, self-reliant lifestyle, while it can be tough to get everything established, with hard work and the right equipment, is totally possible – and is something we believe EVERYONE can implement to some degree, no matter where you live. We’re far from there just yet, but we’re getting started, and as we start getting serious about reaching our goal, we thought it was a great time to share with you all some of our tips and ideas in case any of you are also looking towards building your own more sustainable lifestyles.

Aerial shot of the Newby Farm in portugal

Choose where you want to live carefully

While we are very conscious that not everyone can choose where they live for a variety of reasons – if you are planning on making a move to a more self-sufficient lifestyle – choosing somewhere with good natural resources and space is something to consider.

Ideally, a location that is away from a big city or town will offer you more peace of mind in terms of air quality, and somewhere with plenty of trees and a good water supply will help you get off to a fantastic start.

You don’t need acres of land – but a good portion of outdoor space is great so that you can grow your own veggies, and generally enjoy more outdoor living, something which is scientifically proven to improve our mental health and general well-being, but that’s a topic for another day! 

We are very lucky to live in Northern Portugal – we have a good year-round climate, plenty of rain (sometimes too much) and plenty of sun (again, sometimes too much) – but these in turn, have made the place we call home, a very fertile and versatile landscape, perfect for creating the off-grid lifestyle we’re aiming for.

Get Creative

John builds a table from an old wine press

Whether you decide to renovate an existing property like us, live in more traditionally ‘temporary’ accommodation or build your own eco-friendly home, the first thing to keep in mind is to think through all of your choices carefully.

For convenience’s sake – is buying something off Amazon quickly, really the best option instead of looking at whether you can buy that item locally, or could you make something you need yourself, out of recycled materials? Living off-grid is about slowing down…choosing not to live life at a hundred miles an hour – but to take time to research your options, choose sustainable choices and to learn new skills.

Around our farm, we try to recycle and upcycle as much as possible. From taking down old tiles and giving them a good old clean to reuse them on another project – to finding an old jar in a shed and turning it into a lamp base. Lots of things that you may first think have run past their sell-by date – are still good to live another life after a bit of tender love and care.

We love getting inspiration from our YouTube community, getting ideas from other people is one of the best ways to learn – so we would thoroughly recommend researching options on the internet – but also, speaking to your neighbours and friends.

All about solar - let the sun work for you!

We LOVE solar energy, can we all just geek out for a moment about it… thank you SUN!!! It’s been life changing, honestly, to see just how many options there are out there that you can use to generate power, naturally.

Solar energy is FREE, is clean, which means it has no greenhouse gas emissions when using it – and is essentially an infinite supply (as long as you live somewhere with adequate sunlight). Solar panels contain small semiconducting silicon crystals that are arranged into a circuit, when sunlight strikes them, they create an electrical charge, which is then converted into usable electricity via an inverter, or else stored in a system of batteries.

We really believe that everyone should invest in solar energy, and it’s getting easier and easier for us all to implement some sort of off-grid power solutions into our own homes with the kit on the market today.

We are big fans of EcoFlow – as you’ll see from our videos, we use their products a lot and we couldn’t be happier with them, their power kits make off-grid power generation, storage and use – so much easier. We’ve personally got the DeltaPro and the River2Pro – both great in their own right and super useful around the farm. 

We plug a kit into our solar panels, charge them up and then we are good to go. They also have tons of useful information and interesting blogs on their website so do have a look.

https://blog.ecoflow.com/uk/

*we get a small kick back of commission if you use the links on our YouTube videos to shop for these products. It’s a great way you can support our channel, so thank you! 

Let’s talk about water…

Crusoe and John play in the water

We all know that water is life, and if you have been following us you will know we have had some struggles with water – even though we are lucky to have a fresh, OFF-GRID natural water supply, it has come with its challenges.

We found asking for help from people who know more than we did at that time – a real source of information, comfort and much needed help.

If you do not have an active water supply and have to dig a well yourself, do try and opt for a professionally drilled well for reliability and safety. Make sure your water is fit for human consumption – pollutants from farming and other sources can still tamper with water quality – there are kits you can buy to test the water – or you can get a professional in to do so. You may also need a filtering system.

Conserving water, should be on everyone’s minds now, apparently a typical British household uses roughly 165,000 litres of water every year (not sure what it is in Portugal but I would image it’s around the same in towns) – if we reduce the number of showers we have (using a water saving showerhead) and get an energy efficient toilet system (or go for the compost variety) – you can literally save thousands of litres of water per week.

Try and reuse water where possible – wastewater is known as greywater (the water from sinks or showers) – by putting a system in place you can divert it to be saved in tanks or a water butt – and then use it on your garden (think it is obvious though to not use harsh chemicals or cleaning agents in the water first)…or with some cleaning and filtering you can use it again in your house to clean.

And finally…that lovely rain that we love but loathe sometimes – water butts can store gallons of the stuff and with a simple pump system you can redirect it to be used in your house or garden.

For a country like Portugal, well, most of the world now, saving water is a necessity if we are all to live a more sustainable life. Making little changes to your everyday lives can make a big impact on the rest of the world.

It's all about food!

Now, this is where we really get excited. Growing our own food from seed or plant and watching it flourish and in turn, feed our family is such an exciting part living off grid. Eating within seasonal constraints makes planning menus for a family a little challenging at first – but you will find you quickly adapt and can even make your choices more adventurous.

Look at what space you have, watch the environment around you – noting things like sunshine, raind and water – and then prepare the soil, this can take lots of time and energy, but well-nourished soil will come back to reward you when you start to grow your veggies. We’re learning a lot about permaculture and will be trying to follow the principles of this farming method as closely as we can, so watch this space! 

This year we are going to plant a variety of veggies and cannot wait to see how the garden will take shape, along with our amazing established fruit trees and lots of new additions – it will hopefully not be long until we are able to cook entire meals from our own produce.

There’s a jolly long road ahead of us and we have a LOT to learn, but we’re so grateful to you all for being along for the ride! 

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