“Off-the-grid”. When I hear that phrase I think of a older, bearded man, way up in the forested mountains, living without electricity, heat only from a fire or stove, in a cabin that no one could ever find. Off-the-grid conjures up so many images of out-of-culture, disconnected, isolated living styles that seem suitable for only the outliers among us who don’t need people or enjoy coffee shops or feel that something like civic engagement is important.
But, “Off-the-grid” is getting closer to home with some of the latest innovations that are being announced and are scheduled to be released into the marketplace over this coming year. Most people probably caught wind of Elon Musk’s home battery that charges and stores solar energy. For those who think solar is the next wave of renewable energy potential, it is a game changer. It also means that an average urban or suburban home that is utilizing solar power could essentially disconnect from the local utility company – a step off-the-grid that doesn’t require wearing animal pelts to stay warm in the winter.
The Toronto based Yirego Technology has recently announced a foot-powered washing machine that doesn’t require the use of any electricity. It is small, uses less water and less detergent, and washes fewer clothes, but it could possibly be an answer to any renter or home-owner that doesn’t already have a washing machine as well as anyone interested in shrinking their carbon footprint by eliminating their use of some electricity and water.
These off-the-grid technologies don’t come with a crazy price-tag, either, which is another reason they may make saving the environment, disconnecting from some city-wide services, and living green more possible. The Tesla battery is priced between $3,000 and $3,500 and the Yirego foot washing machine is only around $110 USD during pre-order.
Here is something that makes these innovations doubly exciting – they can be employed in areas around the world that aren’t using the type of infrastructure that is seen as destructive, though currently necessary. Elon Musk used the term “leap-frog” to illustrate what it would be like to get new technology into emerging areas that aren’t stuck on a power system that is difficult to get off of. TechCrunch put it this way, “In a similar way, mobile phones have become more important than landlines in remote parts of the world.” These areas skipped a step and moved right into utilizing newer, greener technology.
Getting off –the-grid isn’t easy, but it is seen as an effective way for individuals and households to do their part to support cleaner energy, environmental protection, and perhaps slow down impending climate change.
Would you go off-the-grid by employing some of these products, or others like them? What are the hurdles to getting greener products and ideas to a tipping point? Share your take @StarterNoise #OfftheGrid
Image: “Ombrière SUDI – Sustainable Urban Design & Innovation” by Tatmouss – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – LINK