Many types of alternative housing we see today were not popular 50 years ago. With the trend for people to want to build something unique, possibly off-grid, or reduce their environmental impact, choosing the best way to power an alternative house is essential. One big challenge with alternative housing is connecting utilities such as electricity, water, sewage, and other energy alternatives.
Connecting utilities means connecting a home to grid-connected utilities like natural gas, electricity, and water to provide hot water, heating, and cleaning capabilities.
Check with your utility provider for options
Before you make any significant decision regarding connecting to utility services for your alternative house, you should check with your utility provider. It is important to double-check that they offer options for alternative housing, as some providers do not. While some companies do not offer alternative housing options, most have a section on their website for those who build alternative housing.
Find financing for utility connections
When you’re ready to connect utilities to your property, you’ll want to secure financing to help cover the costs. This could be done through a private bank loan, government grant, or paid in cash. You can apply for short-term loans online, like SoFi, Avant, or Best Egg. You can check out a list of lenders here. It’s important to remember that these loans are short-term, so you don’t want to plan on needing them for an extended time.
Connecting to the grid is the most common way to get electricity for your alternative house. However, if you’re off-grid or want to reduce your reliance on the grid, you can generate electricity through renewable sources such as solar, wind, or water. Install solar panels, wind turbines, or hydro generators if you’re generating electricity. You need to contact your local utility company to connect to the grid and follow their process for new connections.
Access to clean water is essential for any housing, and alternative housing is no exception. If you’re building your alternative house in a rural area, you may need to drill a well to get access to water. In an urban area, you can connect to the municipal water supply. However, if you’re off-grid, you can collect and filter rainwater or install a water catchment system. Before connecting to the municipal water supply, you must check if your property is zoned for water supply connections and follow the process for new connections.
Sewage management is an essential consideration for your house. You can connect to the municipal sewer system if you’re in an urban area. However, if you’re in a rural area, you may need to install a septic system. A septic system collects wastewater from your home and treats it on-site before releasing it back into the ground. You need to follow local regulations when installing a septic system, and it’s recommended to consult a professional to ensure it’s installed correctly.
Think about other ways to offset the cost of utilities
You can offset the cost of utilities while providing access to them in several ways. These include:
- Offset the cost of electricity by using an energy-saving device. Turn off lights, unplug electronics, close the door when leaving the room, and so on. Also, consider installing a mini-grid or solar system on your property.
- Offset the cost of natural gas by using a gas-powered generator. While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep the gas lines clear for emergency use.
- Offset the cost of water by installing a rainwater catchment system. Make sure to keep the lines for your well clear for emergency use.
Connect an energy storage system
Some alternative homes do not have access to a traditional grid system. This may mean you must install a energy storage systems (ESSs). ESSs are primarily designed to harvest energy from var-
ious sources, like solar panels and transforming and storing the energy as needed for diverse
uses. The most common for home use is solar panels that fill reusable batteries.
Off-grid energy alternatives
You can produce your own energy with solar panels. The most common method is to use polysilicon or polycrystalline panels. You can cut polysilicon panels into sheets and attach them to your roofing materials. The polycrystalline panels are integrated into the roofing material, so you must bring them inside your house.
LED lighting and smart thermostats
Installing LED lighting and smart thermostats can help you reduce your energy expenditures. You can save by using LED bulbs, low-energy fixtures, installing geothermal heat pumps, and programmable thermostats. The lighting can help you lower your monthly energy costs by reducing the electricity needed, while the thermostats can help you save by lowering your heating and cooling costs during off-peak hours.
Rainwater harvesting systems
Some alternative houses do not have access to a traditional water supply. This may mean you must install a rainwater harvesting system to provide drinking water. You can get a system that collects water in a cistern and releases it through a hose or pipe, or you can get a system that collects water in an underground holding tank and transfers it through your water supply. If you can connect to municipal water, you can use an ultraviolet disinfection system to reduce water treatment needs.
Organic fertilizer system
Installing an organic fertilizer system can help you to reduce your energy expenditures by composting your organic waste and using the compost as fertilizer in your gardens. You can either get a commercially-produced organic fertilizer or make your organic fertilizer from compost, brown materials such as dried leaves and twigs, and irrigation water.
Greywater systems can help reduce your monthly utility costs by using collected greywater in your gardens and washing your dishes with greywater. If you are building an alternative house, you may want to consider using greywater to water the lawn, which will help you reduce your utility costs.
Request discounts and rebates from your utility company
There are many utility companies out there that provide discounts and rebates to individuals, organizations, and businesses that are trying to reduce their power bills. If you are working to reduce your energy costs, you may want to call your utility company and inquire about their programs.
Help educate your local officials about alternative housing and utilities in general.
Suppose your local officials have not heard about alternative housing or don’t understand the concept. In that case, you may want to contact people in your community and let them know about alternative housing and the option to connect utilities. You can also contact your local library, colleges, or other educational institutions and tell them about your build and how to contact you if they have any questions.
Utilities can be expensive, but there are ways to offset the cost and provide access to them. You can find ways to offset the cost of utilities by using your natural gas or electricity during non-peak times or obtaining out-of-town service. You can also offset the cost by installing a rainwater catchment system and keeping the lines for your well clear for emergency use.
With rising energy costs and the need to reduce our carbon footprints, it makes sense to consider installing off-grid energy systems. With some planning and effort, you can reduce your energy costs and help protect the environment. With proper planning and execution, you can enjoy a comfortable and sustainable alternative housing lifestyle.