For most people, paying utility bills is a tiresome and frustrating task. What if there was a way to get out from under the thumb of public utilities and produce your own sustainable energy? Well, there is. Going "off-grid" is becoming an increasingly popular choice for people looking to reduce their carbon footprint, assert their independence and avoid reliance on fossil fuels.
"The grid" is a common name for the power grid -- the linked system that delivers electricity to the masses. A typical house is connected to the electrical power utility. Going off the grid means shunning these public utilities in favor of creating your own energy. It's impossible to get an accurate count of exactly how many people in the United States live off-grid, but Home Power magazine estimated that in 2006 more than 180,000 homes were supplying their own electrical power and those numbers were increasing every day.
Living off grid is not for everyone primarily because of the expense of the storage (battery) systems involved. Storage, while coming down in price, is still the most expensive part of any system - solar or wind - used to get rid of the utility’s monthly electric bills.
Here in Cayman there are at least 3 homes that have broken the ties and live off grid. The first was Jim Knapp and his wife Judy Van Liere. They are two of the owners of Endless Energy. They have an extremely energy efficient home using LED lighting, Geo Thermal Air Conditioning and all Energy Star rated appliances. Their home is completely powered by solar and has a standby generator which can be used to top up their batteries if necessary. The home has every modern convenience and has never experienced a power outage in seven years. Their home is featured in the Residential Projects section of this site. They are proof positive that it can be done. Their motives weren’t solely based upon cost savings but that was a big part of it. They also never wanted to be without power again like they were after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Finally, they wanted to do their part to show Cayman that the dependence on fossil fuels for electricity was no longer needed and that burning diesel fuel to generate electricity was bad for the health of the islanders and for the environment. Cayman ranks 25th out of 190 as one of the worst polluting countries in the world per capita.
The payback period for off grid homes is typically double that of a grid tied solar system or about 9 – 10 years if prices stay the same. The main difference is that as fossil fuels increase in price (which they inevitably will) the cost of electricity will never go up for an off grid home. This makes the payback for off grid homes much sooner and the return on investment much higher. Please keep an eye out for Commercial Off Grid systems which are also about to take off in Grand Cayman.
Please contact Endless Energy for more information or a quote for your off grid home or business.