How to Live Without Electricity: 7 Key Areas Where You Can

Electricity is more than a comfort. Its usage has become a way of life. Many people can’t go back to old ways because they don’t know how. If you want to stop using electricity, you will have to do so a little at a time. It helps to think about this process in terms of areas where you use power. Here are ways to get the job done in each area:

  • Step 1: Make a list for each area. For example, list all the devices you use cook or heat up food.
  • Step 2: Cut back on devices that use a lot of power. Shut off the hot water heater or other devices when you don’t need them. Use power strips with dedicated shut-off buttons.
  • Step 3: Eliminate Duplicate Devices. If you use a coffee maker, a microwave, and a range, choose just one to keep. In this case, your best bet will be the range.
  • Step 4: Use devices that don’t need electricity. You can buy a lot of devices that use gas, solar, or other power. There are also a lot of things you can build on your own.
  • Step 5: Downsize Your Devices. You will go through a phase where you think you can’t cut back any further. The kitchen stove is a perfect case in point.

Try replacing the oven with a convection toaster oven. It will work just as well and take a lot less power.  Use hot plates instead of stovetop elements. The big element on your stove can take as much as 3000 watts.

A hot plate only uses around 1100 watts on max. That will cut the power usage for cooking by more than half. If you need more heat, use an induction hotplate.

Now that you know how to cut back on power usage, it is time to see about eliminating its use altogether. Here are 7 key areas where you can get the job done and devices or methods that will help you.

Cooking
Being able to heat up food is vital for health and wellbeing. Here are some devices you can use:

  • Solar Powered Devices. This includes solar cookers, solar ovens, and solar dehydrators.  The latter can also be used to make food last for a long time without using a refrigerator.

Most solar cookers don’t reach much over 250 degrees F. You will need to experiment with cooking time and vessel type for each food type. A black cooking vessel works best because it will retain heat and build it up better.

  • Fire.  Many people think using fire is a waste of natural resources. On the other hand, if you get a lot of junk mail, or read a newspaper, you can use them to make paper logs. There are other things you can also burn.

Depending on what you burn, you may also get enough ash to make lye. From there, you can make your own soap.

Preserving Food
Have you ever had your refrigerator stop working? Especially during a long power outage, if so, then you may also know what it feels like to run around looking for ice. Here are some other ways to preserve food.

  • Dehydrate. As I said earlier, a solar dehydrator will help you keep food safe. This is a good way to store fruits and vegetables.
  • Canning.  Also very good for some fruits and vegetables. You will need a lot of heat to get the job done. A fire will be your best source of heat.
  • Salting. This will also dehydrate foods. You can use it on lean meat, but not the fatty parts.  Try using rosemary oil extract to preserve fatty meats.
  • Smoking. This method has been used for centuries to make meat and other foods last longer.
  • Fermentation. Wine isn’t the only thing you can make. You can also make cheeses and other pickled items. Some may or may not need to be kept in a refrigerator.
  • Zeer Pots. Don’t expect this device to work as well as a regular refrigerator. Depending on the humidity and temperature, it may give you 10 or so degrees of cooling.
  • Ice House. Build a cellar or other insulated area where ice will not melt to freeze foods.  You can also use salt to keep the ice intact longer. Unless you buy a freezer that runs on gas, you will need electricity to make the ice.

Heating and Cooling
This is usually the hardest area to deal with. First, the devices use a lot of power. Second, replacing them also costs a lot. Third, it will be hard to cope with extreme temperatures. Here are some things you can try:

  • Insulate.  Keeping hot or cold air in longer is the best thing to do. Since most devices will not produce much heat or cooling, you will need to preserve as much as you can. Insulate all walls, ceiling, and floors.

You do not have to use regular insulation. Carpets and wall tapestries will also help. Do not forget to seal drafts from windows and doors.

  • Passive Heating.  Open curtains during day hours to let in heat from the sun. You can also make a few design changes to your home to make more use of the sun. These changes will also help you stay cool in hot weather.
  • Passive Cooling.  Use black out shades to keep the sun out in the day. Open windows at night.
  • Solar Can Heater.  This is an array of cans that will build up heat from the sun. It also has an outlet that you can use to push the heat into your home.
  • Candle Heater.  A candle, clay pots, and a few zinc-free parts are all you need to make this device. It will heat up a small room for a few hours.
  • Reduce Area.  In an emergency, close off all but part of a room. Use a tent to preserve what hot or cold air you generate.

Don’t burn anything in the tent. It could catch fire. You could also wind up with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Transportation
Right now you can still use gas engines. Depending on the next election, this could get very expensive. Sadly, electric cars are also very expensive.

Here are some ways to get around this looming choke hold.

  • Stop Traveling. During Covid, we have all found out how to shop at home. Telemedicine also means you don’t have to go to a doctor’s office. Find a job or start a business that lets you work at home.

This is the time to see if you can do away with as much travel as possible. If you can get down to just once a month, you won’t have to worry about buying a new electric car.

  • Use Animals. If you live in a rural area, you may be able to use a horse or dog sled.
  • Use Mass Transit – If you live in an urban area, use mass transit. You can also form car pools.
  • Bicycle – You can use these in both rural and urban areas. Be sure to choose the right bike for the terrain. If you need to shop, use a backpack.

There are also cargo bikes that can haul more weight. You can also buy a cargo trailer that will attach to a regular bike. Or, you can use a tricycle.

Communication
Tablets and phones don’t take much power. A solar charge kit doesn’t cost much. From a purely power-oriented point, it doesn’t make much sense to get rid of these devices.

Phones and tablets can’t reach others by power alone. They need a signal carrier. What happens when you can’t get that signal?

Even if you can power the device, you won’t be able to reach others. From this angle, you need to figure out how to do without modern phones and tablets.

The mail is too slow for the kind of rapid communication we have now. If a crisis is very bad, there may not be a mail system.

Carrier pigeons will work, but they are not practical at this time. They might come in handy during a crisis where phones and internet are down.

You may want to keep a bull roarer on hand. It will transmit sound over long distances. The receiver will have to know how to decipher the sound.

Getting Water
Unless you have municipal water, you will need a water pump. Most homes have electric power pumps. There are a few ways to get around that.

  • Ram Pump – These can take water from a low point and bring it upward. For example, if you have a pond, this pump will let you pipe the water up a hill. This pump works on gravity and doesn’t need power.
  • Use a shallow well – If you don’t want to disrupt your well, try to dig a shallow one. You can use a wishing well crank and bucket to get water.
  • Cisterns – Store water from rain and snow in one of these. There are also other ways to get and save rainwater.
  • Hand Power Water Pump. There are many ways to make these pumps from PVC pipe. Some can be used for shallow and mid-depth wells.

Don’t forget you may also have to purify the water. This won’t take power. You should still have activated carbon, sand, and other filter material on hand.

Lighting
As simple as this may seem, it isn’t easy to get rid of electric lights. For example, if you have ceiling fixtures, they cannot be run on anything but electricity.

Here are some ways to solve this:

  • Stop using ceiling-based lights. Even if they take LED bulbs, there is no way to easily use these fixtures with solar panels. They will always need house current.

Instead, use lamps that you plug into a wall socket. You can choose lamps that take lower wattage bulbs.

  • You can also use LED flashlights. Their batteries are easy to charge with a solar panel.
  • Right now they also make solar stake lamps for outside. Modify these so they can stand on their own. Put them outside in the day, then bring them in when you need them.
  • Candles and Oil Lamps – These will all give a good bit of light. Candles can give off toxic fumes if you use paraffin wax. Oil lamps can also give off bad fumes. It is best to use these only for short periods of time.
  • Change Your Schedule. You may not the way day hours change across the seasons when you don’t have modern lighting. It may still be worth your while to try. If you have problems seeing in the dark, save LED lights for those areas.

What About Making Power?
There are many ways to do this. Solar power and wind power are the most popular. You can either buy a kit or build your own system. For smaller devices, the QuadraPro Solar Power Bank by Frog & CO. is a great option. If you’re looking for a larger kit, check out the BioLite SolarHome 620 Kit.

You can also use water wheels. If you have a source of free moving water, you can a make power as long as the water flows.

A water wheel can also power devices on its own. For example, they have been used for a very long time to power grain mills and hammers. If you need power tools, there is most likely a way to make something that will run off a water wheel.

Even if you can’t get rid of all-electric use, you can cut back a lot. The best way to do this is to start with a plan. This plan should focus on each area of your power use. Start with simple things that guarantee success. Build from there to tackle harder things on your list such as heat, light, and food preserving.

About the author:
Fred Tyrell is an Eagle Scout and a retired police officer with a big passion for hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking. He is a strong believer in the old American ways and traditions, living it, and sharing it every time he can. He is also a champion shooter who loves to help others in the right use of firearms for hunting and self-defense. He also has a wealth of experience in bugging out, crime awareness, homestead maintenance, and home defense. You can also read more of his work at SurvivorsFortress.com

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