Is it ‘off-grid’ if I’m still connected?

I’ve been describing my renovation journey as “50 shades of off-grid” because I want people to understand that there are many different ways to approach sustainable and off-grid living and none of it is black and white.

Off-grid living to me means a lifestyle choice. My choice is to maximise the natural resources available to me and live as sustainably as I can in my 125sqm inner-city Sydney terrace home. Another main driver behind my off-grid project is to cut my utility bills as much as possible with the goal of eventually getting rid of them all together.

However, the reality is that I also want to maintain the lifestyle that I am accustomed to in my new, off-grid home. I need to be able to use my desktop throughout the day for my job – a break in power could mean a loss in valuable work. I want to be able to continue inviting friends over for dinner or have a little barbecue on my back deck with family. All of these things require energy.

I recently decided that I need to ensure my new solar system can handle the energy load my lifestyle demands before I completely disconnect from the city grid.

Although I am already disconnected from mains water and am confident that I’ll have more than enough with the 8,000L raintank system in my backyard (if I’m close to running out of water, a top-up is easy and relatively cheap), I am still not entirely sure my PV and battery system will carry me through the winter when solar energy is low and my roof is more heavily affected by shade. Because of this, I have decided to stay connected to the electricity grid for the first year to test my system and make sure it is capable of handling my load.

So, the big question I’ve been asking myself is: if I’m still connected to the grid, can I really call my house “off-grid”.  I’ve decided my answer is yes.

Living off-grid means using the natural resources we all have available to us to be self-sufficient and not rely on the polluting energy options offered by the city. That is what I’m doing. Whether or not a complete disconnection from the grid happens now or when more advanced technology becomes available, I am still on my journey toward living more sustainably and am somewhere within the 50 shades of off-grid.