5 Things to Know ...

Before Going Off the Grid

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Being green ain't cheap.

A renewable energy system for a modest home costs $15,000 to $25,000, batteries included. Even with tax rebates and special financing for energy-efficient projects, you'll recoup your investment over years, not months.

Know what nature can provide.

To go solar in Anchorage would take more than twice the panel area that it would in Phoenix. Want to use wind? You'll need an average wind speed of at least
9 mph. See eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo to find out what's feasible in your area.

The fridge is history.

An average home uses roughly 800 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. Average off-grid use: 188. That means buying superefficient appliances. Expect to pay at least $2,500 for that new eco-friendly fridge, but don't expect a freezer cold enough to keep ice cream.

Your neighbors might bitch.

Some people think glaring solar panels and looming wind turbines are unsightly yard ornaments, so you may need an easement to make sure that a ticked-off neighbor can't later add a third floor and block your sun or wind. Check local laws and codes before you build.

You can get paid to stay on the grid.

Not ready to give up the local juice? Use renewable energy to supplement your grid power. If you produce more than you use, 38 states require utilities to buy your excess.