Could I live off-grid?

Open navigator

1. Disconnecting

In the dark old days before household utilities, the internet and fast food, people had simple, sustainable lives. It was called living.

In today's society it's hard to visualise life without a smart phone, but there are thousands of people in Britain who have turned their backs on modern society and live off grid.

Some do it for ideological or health reasons, others for privacy or to save money on household bills, but just how easy is it to do in reality?

2. Living on a shoestring

Abz Love and fiancee Vicky Fallon visit a pioneering eco-village in Pembrokeshire. Two of the founders, Tao and Hoppi, show the city couple how to live off the land.

Clip from Country Strife: Abz on the Farm (BBC Two, 2015)

3. What you need

Just how far off the grid you go is optional. For some purists it's all or nothing. For others, it's just about tapping into a renewable energy supply.


One of the biggest hurdles in Britain is finding affordable, suitable land and overcoming local planning restrictions. A residential dwelling for instance may not be allowed on the land you've purchased. Ideally your land would be near woodland for a ready supply of wood and a natural water source.


There are a number of ways of generating energy such as solar, hydro and wind. In the UK most people opt for a combination of the three. The tricky part is storing it in order to power larger electrical appliances. A few companies have now created batteries that can power homes which could change the way we live in the future.

Water supply

Luckily in Britain we have a plentiful supply of water in the shape of rain which can be collected and stored for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning and waste management. Depending on where you live, you may also have access to a local river or stream.

4. Costs

While nature can provide much of what we need for free, there are still some costs associated with living a low carbon lifestyle but some people have managed to save as much as £11,000 per year.

  • Time - it takes a lot of time to grow your own food organically and to keep things running smoothly.
  • Wood - unless you have a forest nearby, you'll need to buy in wood from somewhere.
  • Power - wind turbines, hydro-electric power, solar panels and wood burning all require an initial outlay of money and then maintenance.

5. Powering down

Going off grid means you'll need to manage on around a quarter of the electricity you currently use. Which of these appliances do you think uses the most power?

Games console

Consoles are hugely popular thanks to better social interaction within games and increased functionality, allowing people to stream films or go online

You selected

Games console


On average, games consoles use one unit of electricity (around 20p) to power three hours of gameplay. An average household spends around £7 a year on gaming.

Electric cooker

It's at the heart of the family home, used regularly to prepare meals with and something most people can't live without. Costs will vary depending on the model.

You selected

Electric cooker


Most electric cookers use 15 units of electricity which works out at about £2.98 based on a week's worth of meals for a family of four.

Fridge freezer

Just about every home in the UK has a fridge freezer stocked with frozen food and perishables such as meat, vegetables and dairy produce.

You selected

Fridge freezer


A fridge freeze generally uses between one and two units of electricity per day which costs around 30p on average.