Check out my article in the August issue of American Survival Guide, now available. My article is titled “No Electricity, No problem.” I provide suggestions for a manual counterpart for all (or most) of our electric devices. Having non-electrical devices can improve the quality of our life, and makes us better prepared for emergencies.
Here are a few teasers from the article.
Today, most of us in the United States – rural or urban – could not imagine life without electricity. And what a wonderful invention electricity was – tapping nature’s forces and putting them to work for us in myriad ways. Of course, there is a cost to pay – the money you pay for the electric bill and the fuels that power the system. And there is also another less obvious “cost” that we have all been paying as our dependence on electrical power constantly increase. We pay in the loss of really understanding what it means anymore to actually perform a task that would have been routinely done with manual tools a century ago.
Most people have barely a clue that nearly every task done with electricity has a manual counterpart. Yes, often this means more physical exertion. Yes, often this means that the task takes longer. Still, when everything was done by hand, there was an individual quality to good produced that is virtually unknown today.
Being self-reliant is a good thing on many levels, and many pursue such skills with manual tools for its intrinsic deeper value that it imparts to the user, forcing him or her to slow down and attempt to find meaning in even the mundane.
Because we are so dependent on electricity for everything today, we are also vulnerable. If there was a widespread grid-down event, or even a localized blackout, many of the functions of daily life that we today take for granted would cease. People might panic, and many would feel helpless.
I strongly suggest you read Ted Koppel’s book “Lights Out” for a look at what might happen to our society if the power was suddenly gone, perhaps as the result of a terrorist act. (Koppel also provides many solutions).
In your personal life, there are several ways you can build self-reliance into your life.
One way is to re-think your usage of electricity. There are basically 3 methods in which you improve the way in which you use electricity:
- Buy the most energy-efficient appliances you can find.
- Use your electrical appliances far more efficiently.
- Forego some electrical devices altogether. Let’s focus now on number 3.
Lighting: Lighting is really essential. If there’s no electricity, there are the old standbys: candles, battery-operated flashlights, lanterns, slush lamps. There are also light tubes, which are sold at most building supply stores. They bring light into the home through the ceiling during the day so no electric lights are needed. Don’t forget battery or solar devices for light, as a backup, or for use in the cabin.
Air Conditioning: In some environments, the AC really drives up the electric bill. However, using ancient building technology, homes could (and should) be built today that require very little power for cooling (or heating). If all walls were insulated, including the ceiling, the need for any cooling could be drastically reduced. Ancient desert homes, and old Spanish missions in California, had thick walls and they remained cool in the summer. Additionally, a roof painted white reflects the heat of the sun, and the house inside is typically 10 to 15 degrees cooler because of this. Houses with large overhangs also help to keep the inside cool in summer.
Heating: Again, a heavily-insulated home requires far less heating to keep warm in winter. (I’ve documented a lot of this in my “Self-Sufficient Home” book). A small wood stove may be all that is needed to keep a well-insulated home warm.
There are other passive methods that could (and should) be used so that less power is needed to keep a house cool or warm, such as aligning the house, and windows, to take advantage of sunlight and prevailing wind currents.
LOTS MORE IN THE ARTICLE…. American Survival Guide is available at news-stands, or you can subscribe at Engaged Media, 800-764-6278, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Back issues available from www.engagedmediamags.com.