Living with Limited Electricity

Living with limited electricity is the lifestyle that we have chosen for our family. In a rural area such as ours, power outages are a regular occurrence in stormy weather. In an effort to simplify our lives, we decided to do away with all non-essential electricity. Now, in our home we have electricity only to the refrigerator and other major appliances we cannot yet do without. In making this change, we have had to also change the way we handle the tasks of the day.

A major consideration is in planning your day so that the chores are finished before nightfall. We take advantage of the daylight hours. Rising early in the morning, usually before sunrise, is one important factor for me. I am able to get breakfast and make coffee by the light of oil lamps. As the sun rises and the house begins to be lit with the natural lighting I start the housework and other chores that are best done in the daytime. I dovetail many of the tasks to allow me to get the most of the day. I wash laundry while the bread dough is rising. As the bread is baking and the laundry is hung on the clothesline, I have dinner simmering on the back of the stove or slow baking in the oven. Cleaning the rooms can also be done at this time. The goal being to get as many things done as possible in the shortest amount of time. During the summer months, this allows me to have more time for gardening and canning the harvest. In the winter, when the hours of daylight is lessened, the schedule I keep will be sufficient to allow me to get everything done in the few hours of daylight available.

Another consideration is the lighting that you will use. For us, the answer was to purchase enough oil lamps to give enough light for each room. We have always collected oil lamps, so we only had to buy a few. We found that we could increase the amount of light the lamps give by taking care of where we place the lamps in the rooms. My husband is putting small lamp shelves on the walls in each room. Behind each lamp will be a mirror or a piece of reflective metal to help in reflecting the lamp’s light into the room.

We enjoy living this way. Our family spends more time doing things together, our daughter spends less time in front of the television, and we all enjoy being outdoors more each day. By the day’s end, we are tired from the work, but feel good knowing that we can do so much without the need for electricity. When we are able to install a wind power alternative energy system, out electrical usage will be low enough that we will not need a large system to sustain us. We will also find that the power the wind system provide enough energy that we will not have to use the public utilities as a back-up system. As the opportunities to switch over to more alternative non-electric methods arise, we will consider them and will likely adopt many. We are already looking into solar water heating and will be implementing that method as soon as we are able to build it.

Living this way is something we had dreamed of but thought would be too difficult of a change to make. We have found that the opposite is true. The changes are easier than expected and within the ability of anyone who chooses the simpler ways.

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