The number one thing to invest in when it comes to energy is your education. Knowledge is power, literally.
If you understand how it all works, you will have a very different view when you are spending money on your energy requirements.
The very first thing to get right before you think of going Off-Grid in the city or country is your load. Understanding your load is the most important part of the process. What's the reason some people pay $2000 a quarter and some have bills smaller than $200? If your house costs lots of money to run that means you have a big load. The problem with a big load is you need a big solar system and even bigger batteries to be self sufficient or somewhat close to it. The bigger your load the bigger your system. Do an energy audit on your homeClick here for details.
Look at what you really require when it comes to electricity to do things. We use electricity for everything besides heating our hot water and heating our home. Solar hot water is a must and it also must be set up for you or it will be a waste of time and energy.Click here
Lets leave all the bells and whistles out of this equation and same with heating and cooling. We only need to heat and cool our homes because most of them are poorly designed. A true energy efficient home doesn’t require heating and cooling only poorly designed ones do, which is what most of us live in including me!
What do you really need to survive in today’s world? Do this exercise yourself, and see if you can get your load down to 3kWh per day, which is very realistic. Before my wife and I went off-grid in Sydney, we were using about 5-6kWhs per day. Now we are off grid, we are using an average of 8kWhs per day- our system produces it so why not use it? Our Nickel Iron Cells or Batteries can handle deep discharges with no issues.
Going Off-Grid in Sydney was a challenge at first, because we had a 30kWh per day load, we couldn’t fit a solar system on the roof that was large enough to service our requirements. Once we understood our load and how energy worked it was very simple, with no financial investment, to drop our daily load to 12kwhs per day. Once we upgraded all our electrical equipment it dropped to 5kwh per day. The knowledge dropped our bill by $400 per quarter ($1200pa), the technology dropped the bill a further $157.5 per quarter ($630pa). If you look at the big picture it also saved us almost $50,000 in a solar system as well, as we didn’t require a huge 48 volt 50kWh of storage system. We got away with a small 12 volt off grid solar system in the middle of Sydney, Australia. The solar engineer I work with uses this analogy of turning your home into a solar glider, not a heavy bomber, and that is so true.(He loves planes and history). We waste so much energy, when you start to look at the big picture it is crazy.
Anyway, I hope you understand the point to educate yourself and learn how you can reduce your load before you do anything. That is the key to a sustainable future.