In this era of sustainability, many people have their eyes on living a completely sustainable lifestyle by living off the grid. And what better place they believe to do this than in Hawaii?
LUVA Real Estate agents have completed land sales to people ready to harness solar energy, use catchment tanks, plant their own fruit trees and cut the ties that bind most of us to monthly bills. Cutting the ties is also slicing the security of a network of infrastructure that makes our day to day life easier. Are you looking for this lifestyle?
The “off grid” life is one of doing more work for more freedom. It takes commitment to lessen your energy consumption and grow your food and capture your water. If you are considering this lifestyle, we offer resources below and a few questions you should ask yourself before buying land to build your off-grid home on the Big Island:
1. Is the environment around the open land you are considering buying conducive to living off grid? Deep soil for planting is found on parts of the island that are not near a recent lava zone. Bringing in soil can be an expensive aspect for gardening. Is there enough sun for solar? Enough rain for catchment?
2. Are you aware of your current energy usage? You need a plan to produce 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. And energy storage and emergency production are key.
3. Consider your toilet needs. Due to the Big Island’s moratorium on cesspools, you will need to install a septic tank. When you have to dig into lava, the cost can be prohibitive.
We had a chance to ask a new resident to the island about his personal experience on building a home and living off the grid:
Personal Story of Success
Abraham: I bought my land two years ago in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates and built my new home. It took me 16 months start to finish and it is completely off the grid. I have zero bills besides my taxes, which are super cheap. I was renting before deciding to build and I was paying $1500 each month. My 900 square foot home with the land and the building materials cost me 54k. I did all the labor myself, besides help with framing and concrete work. I recently built a second home on my property for guests. I owned a beautiful home in Tempe, Arizona, which had all the amenities I needed plus some. My new house has everything I desire, which includes a refrigerator, washer, lights, stove, hot water, and all the power I need for my consumption. I gave up the luxury life of having a big TV, dish washer, and pool for a more sustainable life. I would never back to the grid! I've planted a good forest which can now sustain my daughter and I. If the boats stopped coming we would be perfectly fine.
Resources For Off Grid Living on The Big Island
Did you know that the cost of residential electricity on the Big Island is over 200% greater vs. the national average? We have the highest rates in the entire United States. (Off grid living or not, you should think about solar for your home.)
1. How much will I save on utility bills? Solar protects you against rising utility rates, hidden fees, and surprise hikes in your electric bill. Savings quickly add up to thousands of dollars over the life of your system. Your total savings depends on how high electric rates are in your area, how much sunshine you receive, and financial incentives like federal, state, and local tax credits. You could save up to $150 a month and over 20 years, savings can reach $20,000 or more.
2. How do I choose the right system? It's important to find an experienced professional who can customize a system to your home's requirements. A professional can help evaluate what you many need such as how much power do you need? You can start by checking your current electric bills to determine how many kilowatts you use on an average day. Multiply that by .25 to find out how big your system should be. A typical system generates 5 kW per day, but your home may need less or more. What's your climate? The number of panels you need depends on insolation, or how much solar radiation reaches the ground at your location in a given period of time. How much direct sun does your home get? In general, you'll need 100 square feet of south facing roof (or yard) space for every kilowatt of power your system generates, avoiding shadows from trees, chimneys, or taller buildings.
Solar Companies in West Hawaii
Pro Solar Hawaii provides complete solar power systems and solar panel installation. They offer grid tie systems, off grid systems, and emergency back up systems as well. https://www.prosolarhawaii.com
SunRun provides solar systems and also offers a Brightbox, a holistic solar storage service with a home battery unit that offers you advanced control over your home energy needs. https://www.sunrun.com/solar-by-state/hi/big-island-hawaii-solar
Sunetric is a full-service renewable energy firm operating throughout Hawaii. http://sunetric.com
Rainwater Catchment Systems
Capturing your own water supply on your property is not something everyone on the Big Island can do depending upon weather patterns. However, homeowners in South Kona all the way to Puna and East Hawaii enjoy enough rainfall to make this use of natural resources a reality. If you really do think you are going to use catchment tanks, it would be a great idea to read through Hawaii County’s "How to make a home rainwater catchment system safe for domestic use"; http://health.hawaii.gov/sdwb/raincatchment/
This is another great resource-Hawaii Rainwater Catchment Systems Program: https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/hawaiirain/
Dig deeper into understanding catchment systems and the health issues, turbidity, safety, etc with the ultimate guide written by a highly regarded local expert on catchment. https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/RM-12.pdf
Rainwater Catchment Providers on Big Island
Pacific Blue Catchment - Pacific Blue Catchment is a locally owned, full-service water conservation system design/build company on the Big Island of Hawaii. They specialize in Rain Water Harvesting Systems. https://pacificbluecatchment.com
Island Catchment: Providing catchment services, products and advice. http://islandcatchment.com/AboutUs.html
Living in a community with other people who share your lifestyle values and can be a continual resource for you, is another off-grid living consideration. LUVA Real Estate agents have the knowledge of where off-grid living will work best on Hawaii Island and can lend you advice and insights. We can also provide you with the listings of available open land for sale. Contact us today!