Most people can’t imagine living without electricity. Cooking your food or entertaining yourself becomes harder. When we lose power for a few hours, my kids are convinced that we were transported back into the pioneer days, or that we’re in a for grid-down scenario for the long haul.
Everyone can handle a day or even two days without power, but how do you survive for several days or weeks at a time without electricity? Your power is out, and that means no heat in the wintertime. Water goes off, and it can lead to an uncomfortable situation especially in the winter.
To see recent examples of this, take a look at Puerto Rico which was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a category five hurricane, in September 2017. Most of the country didn’t have power until August of 2018.
For preppers, learning how to live without electricity is imperative. You never know what type of situation or emergency might knock out the power for extended periods. Some choose to go off the grid and live without electricity as their desired lifestyle.
No matter how you end up without electricity, you need a plan. Here are some tips for living without electricity. Start preparing now, so you aren’t caught off guard later.
10 Tips for Living Without Electricity
Have a List of Essentials
I always say the best time to prepare for life without electricity is before it happens. Write a list of items that you need to have if you’re off the grid. This requires some thinking, such as how you’ll keep food cold, and how you might need to cook.
Having more shelf-stable foods will be a smart choice. If you don’t have many options to keep food cold, you’ll need to dehydrate, can, or ferment as much of your food as possible for storage. Make sure you have foods with long shelf lives, or that don’t need to be preserved, such as:
- Dried beans
Know How to Shut Off Your Gas and Water Valve
Know your house. Find out how to shut off your gas and water valves. In the event of a disaster, you need to shut off these systems. Firefighters respond to homes that explode due to gas leaks all the time. Don’t let that be your home.
Determine a Way to Collect and Store Water
Whether you’re going off-grid permanently or waiting for electricity to come back on, water matters. Ensuring you have a proper way to collect and store water is imperative for your health. You can buy or fill jugs up, or create a rainwater filtration system.
Have an Alternative Heat Source
Life without electricity in the winter can be hard because it takes away your reliable heat source. With kids in the home, I need to have a heat source.
The ideal choice is to have a wood burning stove in your home, but if not, a kerosene or propane heater can heat around 1,000 square feet. Be aware that you do want carbon monoxide detectors if you opt to use these sources in your home.
A few ways to stay warmer include:
- Add more insulation to your home.
- Cook indoors
- Cover bare floors with rugs
- Find and caulk any drafts from windows.
- Put towels under doors.
Practice Alternative Cooking Methods
Without electricity, cooking can suddenly become harder than you realize. A gas grill or a small patio cooker are other options. Some people like propane grills or even a gas oven, but remember you have to have the gas or propane to fuel those choices.
Having a wood stove is a heater, and you can cook on top of it as well so long as it has a flat top. Make sure you use cast iron pans!
Make a Bucket Toilet System
During a short outage, you might not have to worry about your toilet system. If you are going off-grid, you either need a septic system or consider using a bucket system or a camping toilet.
To make a bucket system, you put a garbage bag in the bucket. Then, keep peat moss or a few bags of kitty litter on hand. Put some at the bottom of the garbage bag. Then, after anyone goes, put a bit more on top.
Learn How to Keep Cool
Perhaps the hardest things to deal with is the lack of fans or air conditioning. I don’t know about you, but being hot is way worse than being chilly!
Sleeping on warm summer nights is frustrating. So, you have to learn how to keep cool.
A few tricks are:
- Keep the drapes closed during the daylight hours to block out the sun.
- Try building a solar powered air conditioner.
- Open up windows and doors with crosswinds.
- Avoid going out southern facing doors, which are the hottest.
- Caulk all doors to stop cold air from escaping.
Do Your Chores During the Day
Once the sun goes down, getting chores done is impossible. Cooking by candlelight isn’t a fun task. So, learn how to adjust your schedule to make proper use of daylight. That means you need to get up when the sun rises and call it a night when the sun sets.
Find Other Entertainment Choices
When the power goes out, entertainment is the hardest for my kids. If it’s still daylight outside, they can head outside to play. If the power goes out as evening approaches, that means we need to think of other entertainment choices.
You might like:
- Crocheting or knitting
- Reading books
- Paper dolls for kids
- Arts and crafts
- Card games
- Board games
Think about Lighting
Life without electricity means dark is dark, especially if you’re miles away from town. It can be unnerving if you aren’t used to this level of darkness. We’re used to walking into a room and turning on a light.
Headlamps, lanterns, and flashlights are temporary solutions, but if you’re living off the grid permanently, how are you going to light up your home?
Fuel lanterns and candles provide light, but they have a fire hazard. You need to be cautious when using their light sources, especially if you have kids in your home.
A few lighting options to consider are:
- Glow sticks
- Oil lamps
- Solar lighting
- Rechargeable flashlights
Living Without Electricity
In a time with WiFi, smartphones, and constant communication, we struggle to imagine being cutting off from other people and living without our modern luxuries.
The adjust phase would be hard, but homesteaders go off the grid all the time. With proper planning, you can survive any amount of time living without electricity. You might even end up loving it.
4 thoughts on “10 Helpful Tips for Living Without Electricity”
We use a large ceramic (orange) flower pot with a drain hole in the bottom:
turn up-side down & elevate on several bricks or something similar / make sure there is clearance for the candles:
place multiple Tea Light candles under the pot- the hole becomes a chimney & draws the heat upward.
We were amazed at the amt of heat generated by this method but it works great for a small area.
Thank you SO Much for sharing this, Marianne! I am going to try this! 🙂
This has been helpful. The way things are going even if people don’t go without electricity completely a lot of people will be reducing the amount they use enormously.
unfortunately this article is out of touch with reality. If we actually lost power the CDC estimates that 90% of the population will die within 9 months. I think it will be quicker because desperate people will go around killing each other for a can of soup. If we loose power you will need enough food and to survive past the first 9 months after which time you’ll be able to hunt and gather and plant crops etc but until then you will need enough ammo to protect yourself and your food and as far as this article… everything it mentions like using garbage bags to poop in… there will be no garbage bags. We need to think about how to live in a time before electricity where the only manufacture and trade is local. unless your neighbor is making garbage bags from the plastic his neighbor is making from the oil his neighbor is pumping out of the ground, we need ways to survive without these things.