With more people looking to change their lifestyle by living off-grid, the changing weather patterns that are a result of climate change, can and will continue to cause concern for those that make the leap to a more sustainable life.
Although we are reaching record highs this winter, we have also experienced more rain than usual, which means more cloudy days with less sun. Don’t get me wrong, we love the rain and need it desperately, after three very dry Autumn months, (very unusual weather patterns for SE QLD) our tanks were almost empty, but three days of cloudy weather without any sun on the solar panels means we run low on power.
Living off-grid means you are completely dependent on the weather. A cloudy day effects how things are done or not done around the house. It means we have to be careful turning on the tap or even flushing the toilet as our water is pumped up from a tank below. (Gravity fed water is your best option when you are setting up your off-grid property, but we have no way of changing the existing setup). Things that you would normally take for granted like putting a load of washing on becomes impossible.
The fridge, computers, vacuum, washing machine and power tools are all high load appliances that drain a lot of power. Usually we run the non-essential appliances during the full sun of the day, but cloudy days mean we have to go into conserve mode. We have certainly become more aware of what the sun is doing. The worst thing for an off-gridder are cloudy days that produce no rain.
The weather has been quite unpredictable lately (June 2016). As mentioned, the very dry Autumn with 3 months of well below average rainfall, means a dump of 200 ml in 24 hours can be devastating. Our property is located on the side of a steep mountain road, so that the large amount of water caused a huge washout. A lack of maintenance on the road by the council means we can have some dangerous conditions with a huge downpour where we experience rock falls and dangerous conditions. So far we have not been stuck, but it may just be a matter of time.
Bush fires in summer are also a concern with long dry periods. Our escape plan is to take the bare essentials and leave the property. We have resigned ourselves to this fact as it’s better to be safe than sorry… This is of course an issue for anyone living in the bush, and being aware of the weather is something we are growing more accustomed to.
Although we experience a few limitations by living off-grid, the benefits far outweigh any negatives. It just means being more aware of the weather conditions and adjusting our lifestyle to accommodate.