We had no intention of doing this for at least a year since we won't be on our own land and unable to do everything we want to do but we made the decision to start working on it earlier than we expected.
This will allow us to learn more about the process and to have it a little more perfected before we truly go off the grid in our rv, which hopefully we be sometime next year.
Before we even got started on our alternative sustainable energy or started working on adding that into our rv, we did many things to prep for this next step. Below you will find the things that we did as part of this experience. You might be wondering what this has to do with you, if you have no intention of going off the grid you may think this doesn't pertain. But most of this tips are EXCELLENT ways to save even more money off your electric bills and they are most likely things you've never thought of doing before!
This stuff is awesome. You just cut to fit to the size of your windows and stick in. We didn't have to use any adhesives because they fit in the little creases around the windows. This Bubble Insulation is to keep the heat from coming in during the summer and the heat from escaping in the winter. We did lose some natural lighting from the windows but we have skylights in the ceiling that still let plenty in. I'm impressed with this so far and happy that we made the inexpensive investment.
Become Very Conscientious of Energy Usage
Once we made our decision to work towards the alternative sustainable energy, we became very conscientious of how much energy we were using, how many lights were left on, what used power and what used propane, and more. Spend a couple days without any power at all and you will know exactly what you use!
Invest in LED Bulbs
Did you know the average lifespan of an LED bulb is 22 years? And that's if you use it for 5 hours per day! We have 2 table lamps and then of course tiny lights throughout the camper. We purchased two 40 watt LED bulbs for the lamps (they actually use 7 watts of energy), the estimated cost to use the 40 watt bulbs per year is $0.72 (if you use them for 3 hours per day). And yes that's the YEARLY cost! We also replaced the tiny light bulbs in our rv factory installed lights, these run around a single watt for each bulb.
Discover LED Nightlights
I tried out a few nights without any night lights at all but it seems like with a little one we just really need them. Amazon sells all kind of neat little LED night lights for only a few dollars each. (I found mine at Walmart but I like THESE a little better.) Our wattage meter tells us they use 0.0 watts (aka nothing!) to run. Speaking of which...
Kill A Watt
We also purchased a Kill A Watt meter so we can learn what our various devices were using for amperage and wattage. I wish we would have gotten it sooner, it's pretty neat and you really have no idea what something uses until you test it! It will be very handy to know how many things we can use at once with how much solar power we are pulling in. All you do is simply plug any device with a cord into the Kill A Watt and it will tell you how many amps, watts, kilowatts, or volts that an item uses.
Stop Using the Microwave
This one wasn't really too hard but you do miss the convenience of it...especially when you have a fussy toddler and just want to get supper ready. But did you know that the average microwave runs at 1400 watts? That's a lot.
Took Turns Using Things
And by this I don't mean that in our family we took turns. It means I only ran one thing at a time if I knew it would draw more power. So for example, I run the washer at night when we don't have the air on. (We never run the air at night, we switch to fan power instead.)
Learned About Solar Items
We've been doing our research on smaller solar items and what is worth a purchase and what's not. To create a decent lighting system over our dining table are would cost about $300. That's a little much at the moment. We got one of these d.light Solar Lanterns to try and I seriously think it's the coolest thing. You just put it in the sun during the day and it produces a very nice bright light for up to 8 hours! I think we will pick up a couple more to have them around the camper and maybe string a few up. I might pick up one or two of these d.light Task Lights as well for setting on my dresser.
Become a Better Cook
Not that I was a bad cook before, but going from all electric appliances and cookware to all propane takes a little bit of getting used to! I cook in a propane stove that is not even 1/3 of the size of my regular stove so things cook completely differently. I also decided to invest in a Thermal Cooker. This thing is pretty cool. Just cook the contents on the stove for 10 minutes, replace the inner chamber inside the cooker, seal, and let it keep on cooking for up to 6 hours without any electricity at all. How neat is that? (Note, I would not cook meat in this, but it works great for soups, baked potatoes, ect.)
So those are the basics, that's how we started seriously conserving energy to get ready to be more off the grid and prepare for alternative sustainable energy.
Have you done any of these things? Which of these could you do in your own home to make it more efficient?
Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.