I can't put solar panels on the roof because the house is situated wrong for them. There's no room for them in the yard and I couldn't afford them anyway. I'm not sure they would pay off fast enough for me.
What I can do isn't exactly off the grid, but why not do what we can?
Here's what I can do:
1. Solar battery charger. There are all kinds out there, but there are some simple ones that work any time the sun is shining. You can get them that will charge anything from a hearing aid battery to a laptop battery and they can be found a whole lot cheaper than buying batteries over even a short period of time. You can use the same batteries over and over and over and it won't cost you a penny to recharge them. I can afford that.
2. Solar oven. On a hot summer day, I don't want to turn on the stove or do anything at all to increase the heat in the house! I bought a solar oven for less than $150 and it will last years and years - far longer than it takes to pay for itself in electricity (or gas, if that's the kind of cookstove you have). Besides that, it's fun. AND it's convenient. Put your food into it and forget about it. It won't burn even if you're late. I like that and I can afford it, too.
3. Solar clothes dryer. Hang your clothes on a line outside in the sunshine and let the sun do the work. It works even in the winter and any time it isn't raining or snowing (or hailing or sleeting). The cost of setting up a solar clothes dryer isn't much, and the cost of a few clothespins is even less. As a matter of fact, the whole set up can pay for itself in less than a month. I can afford that!
4. Do-it-yourself solar heat booster. You can help warm your home by opening the window covers during sunny weather, of course, but you can take that another step and line your windowsill with cans painted black and filled with water. If you can put lids on the cans, so much the better. Put the cans in the windows then close the drapery or curtains. The water will heat up in the sun and give up its heat when the air around it is cooler. You can move the cans back into the room to get the most use of the heat when you need it.
5. Solar water heater. No fancy setup needed. Just put out a jar of water on a sunny day and wait for it to heat up. Want it hotter than that? Use the solar oven concept and put a dark or black container under or inside a glass container. Or just run a little water through a garden hose and leave it in the sun. Hot water from a garden hose may not be safe enough to make tea,, but you can wash dishes or clothes in it or do other cleaning that needs hot water.
Yep... that's solar power that I can afford!