The EFFing crisis continues to bite. We hear dire warnings that the average household is set to pay hundreds of pounds more this winter for their energy use. Yet thousands of Brits remain blissfully unaffected. I know because I am one of them: among the 150,000 UK residents who live off-grid – that is, without any mains utilities.
This means I manage my own water supply, provide all my own power and deal with my own waste. Most people consider us at best eccentric and at worst crazy. But in a time of increasingly unaffordable energy, living off grid is a wise decision.
You’ll find us living behind hedgerows, at the bottom of suburban gardens, nestling in woodlands, bobbing about in boatyards. I built my own off-grid structure during lockdown, a 30 square metre shed in a small field I found on eBay.
It’s not all easy: the daily grind involves monitoring batteries and tending to solar panels or wind turbines. But the upside is obvious: we’re happily insulated from the rising cost of heating and lighting. In the United States, where the lifestyle is more widely accepted, the number of off-gridders is much higher than in Britain. Yet the number of people in the UK choosing to go off grid is rising, despite the considerable practical and legal obstacles.
We are slowly shedding our image as stone-age shed-dwellers. We are proving that, thanks to modern batteries and mobile technologies, we can be as comfortable as the rest. Despite the stereotype, we tend not to live in isolation. We prefer to band together in small settlements to pool the investments and skills required. As with the rest of the country – though on a much smaller scale – our power supplies can be centralised.