Although the plan to becoming energy independent could have a variety of steps involved, depending on your specific circumstances, the basic plan is pretty much the same. This is what I figured to be the most efficient and cost effective way for me to get my home energy independent.
1- Change my electric meter to Time of Day metering. This change will help reduce the cost of electricity used by using Most of my electricity during night time, and weekend hours. This step alone cut my electrical cost in half. It will also help increase the payback from solar power generated (see step3) See details here.
2- Get essential power off grid, and run off solar/battery. This step is mostly for for safety in case the power goes out for an extended periods of time. See here for details of what I have done, and am doing on this step .
3- *Utilize solar panels to generate the bulk of my peak power. This option will not be nearly as effective unless you have already completed step 1. It also is not cost effective unless you you do it yourself, and purchase inexpensive panels and inverters. I spent $4,000 to get a fully functioning 2.4 kw grid tie system installed (this included permits, wiring, mounting, panels, an inverter, and everything to pass inspections). At current electricity costs (with are only raising), this will pay for itself in 5 years. See details here.
4- Cut out or reduce the big energy consumers. There are a few huge consumers of energy in most every home. Most of these have to do with heating (your house, and your hot water). There is no reason to use high cost electricity or natural gas for your source of heat, when there are other free sources you can use. This is probably the most exciting step for me, because it will cost very little to get setup, and will cut energy costs by 50-90%. See details here .
* NOTE: This does not have to be solar panels, but could be a windmill, or any type of energy source. I just used solar panels because it will compliment our time of day power usage very well, and It was not that expensive.