Living Without Electricity ~ Hypothetically

[M]any of us live in ultra-modern urban and suburban areas where we rarely have to worry about the loss of power. But for a moment, let’s pretend that we live off-grid. Sometimes I forget that civilization as a whole has survived for thousands and thousands of years without electricity — nonetheless, due to our dependence on the power-grid and swanky corporations that support and meet our every need, we are at risk of losing all of our knowledge on how to live without electricity.

Alternative Energy

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about windmills, hydroelectric systems and solar power. But here’s the thing, not everyone can afford these systems (Well, I guess I should say, I can’t afford these systems.). The truth is, we can’t place our dependence on these systems 100% either.

What happens when the wind stops blowing, when the water dries up or freezes, or what about when the sun’s not shining? In order to be truly independent we need to at least have the ability — knowledge — to get by without any electricity at all. Just think about how our grandparents and great-grandparents did it (or ask them, if you’re lucky enough to still have them around). 

So what about joining me for a little challenge this week?

I know what you’re thinking…but I promise, it’s not that crazy ;)

The Challenge

This is a nice little three step challenge that has the potential to be super fun and engaging for the whole family! The best part is, you can take it to any level you’d like. Here are the rules: 

  1. Evaluate your daily routine.
  2. Choose one activity that uses electrical power.
  3. Accomplish that activity without the use of electrical power.

Easy right! Now…who’s with me!?!

Should you choose to accept this challenge…here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Unplug your exercise routine.
This week, try to unplug your exercise routine by using no electrical power during your workouts. That means no treadmills, elliptical machines, TV/DVDs, music, gyms, or anything else powered by electricity that helps you get your workout on. I’m not saying don’t exercise this week (you don’t get off that easy), quite the opposite! Think of ways you can exercise organically — i.e. clean out the chicken coop (That one’s mine), run outside, practice yoga from memory, use things around the house as free-weights, walking lungs, push-ups, old school sit-ups, etc.

Prepare a meal without using the electric stove.
This one’s pretty straight forward :) Think about a meal that you could make without using electricity. You could even get really crazy and cook over a wood fire, if you have the means.

Hang the laundry to dry.
We talk about this one a lot. If you haven’t tried line drying your clothes, you should this week. Sometimes I even unplug the dryer just to force myself to not use it.

Wash the dishes by hand.
Why not pick a couple days this week in which you hand wash the dishes instead of using the dishwasher? Here’s your recipe for sparkling, clean dishes:

  • fill one side of the sink with the smallest amount of water possible
  • whip up some homemade dish soap
  • use baking soda for the tough-on food and grease 
  • rinse dishes with a water and vinegar solution

Turn off the TV.
Here’s another one we talk a lot about. Maybe this week you’d like to unplug the tube and instead visit with friends, host a family game night, or have a bonfire in the backyard (complete with fireside goodies). 

Sunlight by day, candles by night.
Why not go a day or two without any other light source other than the sun? Pull back the window treatments and let the sun in during the day and at night use candles (or any another source of light that doesn’t use electricity).

So…are you up for it :) Leave a comment and share the activity you’re going to accomplish this week without the use of electrical power!

Many thanks to the #CTWW Gang for the inspriation behind this challenge.

Shared on: Simple Lives, Your Green Resource

Comments

  1. Hanging to dry…I’ve been trying to do this with at least 50% of our loads, dishes are not a problem (no dishwasher…they all grew up) Sewing…I have a much of simple mending I’ll do by hand rather than the machine. Fewer lights at night I can do but, we both work from home and need the lights. In the summer I do cook outside quite a bit. Saves the propane and the heat in the house. I love this challange!

    • You go Katie! That’s awesome!

      • I am a massage therapist and I hang all my sheets out to dry…….not only does it make my drawers full of sheets smell good, but my clients love it, too. The benefit has been almost 50.00 decrease in my electric bill!!!!!!

  2. I love this one! Last week we decided to have a no lights night (just one night) but the kids had a blast with the flashlights. Of course candles would be better, but they had fun with it…time to take it up a notch. We’re going to go light-less and hang my laundry…as long as it isn’t raining or snowing. ;-)
    (I love your post on turning off the breakers! You’re such an inspiration!)

  3. We’re already doing a lot of this: I have gone through two dishwashers that have broken outside of warranty for no apparent reason, not owner fault or age, so I hand wash by choice.

    Also, Coleman to the rescue as our backup plan http://movingontothepast.blogspot.com/2011/07/ummmm.html

    We purchased oil lanterns at lanternnet.com that you can use either lamp oil or kerosene with.

  4. I was looking at your webpage about making your own dishwashing liquid. Can I use Dreft? It is used to wash baby clothes in. I would love to try this and really don’t want to have to go search in every local store for stuff to make the liquid.

  5. I already do many of these things. I have a clothes rack for my clothes in front of my pellet stove, Also have lots of candles and kerosene(or lamp oil) lamps and a back up generator too because we lose power a lot here in northern Maine! Also have a wood stove so I don’t consume any fossil fuels for heat!

  6. Great ideas! I LOVE the taste of food cooked over an open fire and cook 90% of our meals outdoors on a firepit (weather permitting). My husband made my firepit but cutting a steel beer keg in half (so we actually have two). It is portable, contains the fire safely, and you just set a grate across the top to cook on it. (Side dishes are usually done in foil packets.) This is mostly because we don’t have AC (not as hard to give up as you think) and I refuse to heat up the kitchen in summer. A firepit is simple & cheap. Well, this year for Christmas, I asked for a set of quality cast iron cookware and a grate so that I could ALSO cook over a wood fire INDOORS even in the dead of winter using our fireplace. IT WORKS GREAT! I made a spicy balsamic pork roast last week in our fireplace and it just melted in our mouths. Tender and juicy. I also did cedar wrapped salmon fillets that were BETTER than any pricy restaurant … took about 8 minutes. WOW! And in the dead of winter! All that said, we need to try some of your other ideas, too. But giving up the dishwasher? uhhh … that may be more that I can stand. I went without a dishwasher for two years when ours broke. So I am painfully aware of what that is like. I will wait for the next outage.

    • you need a turkey roaster! They are great to cook in outdoors

      • A turkey roaster? I assume you do not mean a “fryer” like to do fried turkey. Please elaborate. You may be right and I want to look into it.

        • I think she means a Dutch Oven. . . they are also called Roaster Pans. They work great because they allow the meat to self baste and cook most meats in almost half the time.

          • Oh yes, I got one of those as part of my new cast iron set … it is a huge 8 qt dutch oven with a lid so you can put coals on top for more even cooking. But I am not so sure it will hold a turkey. Maybe a small one or if it is cut up first. Yes, that cast iron set has just about anything I could ever need. Not thrilled about how heavy it is or the maintenance involved … but the food is awesome!

  7. Great challenge. I already do a lot of these things, too, but since I’ve started using white vinegar as a rinse agent in my dishwasher (thank you for the hint!), I have been doing far fewer dishes by hand. I’ll take on the challenge of leaving the dishwasher alone for the rest of the week, making my own dish soap (I already make my own laundry soap), and using only a small amount of water for washing and rinsing.

  8. I have been doing a lot of dishes by hand because I cook so much and our dishwasher can’t keep up. Seriously thinking of just doing them all by hand. Waiting on hubby to build my clothesline so i can forgo the dryer. Would LOVE to use candles at night but hubby is a former electrician and LOVES every light in the house on!!! Thanks for all the good ideas!

    • Some of my neighbours would go ballistic if we tried to install a real clothes line (even though I’ve found evidence that once, many suns ago, there indeed was a clothes line in our yard), so we hang our clothes on one of those collapsible wooden racks. A pretty sturdy one, has cheerfully carried at least 3/4 of our laundry, and in case of impending rain you just fold it, clothes and all, sweep it inside and continue drying in the washing room. In winter, we keep it inside where it contributes some moisture to the air.

  9. I grew up without electricity. It was there in theory; but seldom worked. So I have used natural light to do almost everything. I use a washboard for my laundry. I don’t have a clothesline right now, so I hang things on the deck or on the front porch to dry. The doctor says I have to start using electric light to quilt because I tend to turn into a pretzel trying to “catch the light”. My biggest gulity pleasure is the radio and the computer.

  10. I also do a lot of these things. I hang my clothes out when possible but have a dryer rack for inside when I can’t get outside. My challenge this week is to use my kerosene lamp for reading. I read a lot. Between my sister and I, we do most of our dishes by hand already, but we do about 1 load a week in the dishwasher. Love your blog and your challenges. Makes me stretch my thinking.

  11. Love this post. I’m on my 3rd time reading through Surviving Off Off-Grid by Michael Bunker. Our whole mindset is changing. (Thought it was before, but after reading this book, it’s been kicked up several notches.) I do as many things as possible by hand and am trying to learn the old ways. I just had a discussion with my 8yos (adopted from China at age 6) about his 72 degree bubble. He’s SUCH a creature of comfort and complains if the slightest thing is not to his liking. If it’s 73 degrees he’s too hot…71 and he’s too cold. (He gets my typical “life’s rough” speech.) We live on a farm with Jersey cows, chickens, etc. I have a clothesline. We’ve had SO…MUCH…RAIN this winter so I’ve ordered an extra large, heavy-duty drying rack for indoors or the porch. We’re planning a trip to Lehman’s while the cows are dry. I want to get some non electric things to do everyday tasks. (Just hope I don’t come home with the store.) :) We have a fire pit and love to cook outside. I’d love to build an outdoor kitchen. If I had unlimited time and money, oh the things I would do…

    • Oh my goodness Robin! Surviving Off Off-Grid is the book that changed my life!!! Reading it set a new course for my family and I can honestly say that the vision for Frugally Sustainable was founded, in part, because of the wisdom gleaned from those words! It’s so nice to know it had the same effect in your life:) Thank you for your comment!

      • That’s amazing, Andrea! I’m really amazed by what God seems to be doing. It’s going to be interesting to see what it all leads to. The neat (scary…overwhelming…wonderful) thing is that I don’t think we can ever go back to the life we once lived.

        • Yes! I agree! We will not be able to return to life as we once knew it. But that is the wonderful thing:) I truly believe God is doing something amazing and I am honored to be a part of it! Thank you for your encouragement today.

  12. Just recently my electric mixer died and I decided not to replace it. Before I was married I lived for years without one and know I can do so again. Besides I’ve long felt that doing things the “hard” way uses more calories and is good for me. We don’t have an automatic dishwasher either so it’s either use paper plates or do the dishes by hand, which I find relaxing and a good time to think. It’s a good practice to evaluate our activities and voluntarily decrease our dependence on electricity. We have lived in places where the electricity regularly went out and we learned to be prepared. Thanks for the encouragement.

  13. Going without electricity is almost mandatory in my area at times. I don’t really need it. But going without running water? I love indoor toliets too much for that :P

  14. This is a really interesting idea. I might give it a shot in March after we get home from our vacation- washing dishes, dining by candles, these are things I could do. I’m not giving up luxuries while we’re on vacation, though… :-)

  15. I read a fictional book series by Christian author Terri Blackstock called the “Light Series” There are four books. The situation is some kind of explosion in space caused magnetic pulses to hit the Earth and it knocked out all electronics. Cars stopped because engines have computer chips, planes fell from the air, water pumps, electricity, basically all modern conveniences gone. The book describes the struggles and the achievements of the characters, the primitive behavior of survival of the fittest…the best and worst of human behavior. Reading that series is what really put me in mind to be self sufficient.

  16. As crazy as this sounds, I’ve done this since January. When school started again and I had a lecture class, I copy all my notes by hand. Yes, the instructor sends us PowerPoint slides of our notes and we’re more than welcome to just print those out and take what ever little notes on those but, I find that copying them all and adding in the notes helps me remember them better. No recording devices, no computer and since I copy them during the day, no lights on either. Being a student now (2012) Is so different than when I was in high school!! You can record everything or take a lap top and type it up as the notes are given. I honestly prefer to do it the way I had to in high school…

  17. Paulette Calton says:

    Biggest challenge here would be water ~ our well pump uses electricity. I have been thinking lately that we need to find an alternate way of pumping water should we lose power. Anyone know how that could be accomplished?

  18. At our family cabin there is no electricity or running water. It’s always been that way, and now my kids get to experience that kind of life w/ Papa and Grandma often. I have great memories of doing dishes on the dock using sand to scrub, plucking a duck {ok, that was kinda gross} and roasting it in the antique wood stove, and having to wake up every couple hours through the night to keep the fire burning. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s my husband’s and my dream to be able to build a tiny house and live off grid. God willing, it will be sooner than later and I’m so looking forward to it! For now, we do what we can living downtown – little things like using cold water for laundry and hang-drying what we can in the basement while freezing temps are still in season.

    • I’m right there with you Jenny! We current live in the ‘burbs but have our land and have dreams of living in a small off-the-grid home. Living in the suburbs can’t keep us from learning the old ways:)

  19. I enjoy your blog and I would like to recognize you by awarding your blog the Versatile Blogger Award. If you would like to accept it, please go to my blog to receive it here:

    http://canninggranny.blogspot.com

    If you do not accept blog awards, please let me know and I will forward it to someone else instead.

    Thank you,
    Pam (Canning Granny)
    Reply

  20. I disagree with washing dishes by hand. Washing dishes by hand is fine for times you don’t have electricity. Otherwise, you are swapping using very little electricity with using a large amount of water. Water is a very precious commodity. A (filled) dishwasher uses much less water than any human person can while washing the same amount of dishes, and you can still have your dishwasher water diverting to your greywater system if you have one.

  21. Becky King says:

    Wow…. Game on….. Lets see I dry my clothes on the line, I air dry my hair, we use candles most of the time or lights off. I addicted to my computer for all our needs …like TV , info… etc etc.. so I guess I will go back to washing my dishes by hand.. my dishwasher was down for about 2 months and I felt I really didnt need it replaced. Until I read, how hand washing your dishes uses more water than my dishwasher.. water in Oregon (Portland) is very $$$ Which makes no sense because it rains 10 months out of the year..however I can do this for a week. I did a three day challenge once through our church, where there was no electric at all used… I did very well and love it.. FYI.. I walked, read and garden a lot… it was the best time..

  22. Sunday’s Boston Globe magazine had a very interesting article on American’s dependency on electricity and how fragile our system is. Severe weather has knocked out our power twice this year. The past year I have slowly stocked our home with extras just in case, and will continue to as money permits. I have to say, it surprises me that more people don’t take precautions to be prepared for blackouts.

  23. thanks for your suggestions and homemade soap recipes! I need encouragement in this area of doing without some things and learning to live without electricity. Mentally I’m on the same page as you but in reality its slow coming. I haven’t had a dish washer for 6 months so that one’s easy. Our central heat went out this year so we got a wood stove, so that’s in our favor. If the weather is warm enough to hang laundry, i will not use the dryer. We’ll have to work up to the TV one, once we went without a TV for 4 months but those days are long gone and my husband will have to initiate that one. Doing candles at night once a week would be a fun thing. So these are the things I am inspired to do from reading your site…thanks for the thoughts!

  24. I’d like to line dry our clothes but we have spiders that can get on the clothes and also make webs. Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of spiders? We’ve tried bug sprays but they don’t work.

  25. We recently had a power outage due to a storm and we were without power for 4 days. Fortunately we still had running water, hot water, and a gas fireplace. We also had a backyard full of snow for refrigeration! We did just fine, in fact we had a lot of fun! I would definitely like to diversify and be less dependent on one source. I especially like solar power. We live in a very suburban neighborhood with strict covenants but I am having fun finding small ways to be more frugally sustainable. This is one of my favorite websites!!

  26. Just a reminder (not sure if anyone else covered this or not) but if you didn’t have electricity for whatever reason (especially if it were a surprise), you likely wouldn’t have running water for washing dishes – so that would add another challenge to the process!

  27. We already do several of these things on a daily basis, but it’s always a good challenge to try to live more Off Off Grid. Michael Bunker’s book “Surviving Off Off Grid” is a life changer. If you’ve not read it, I highly encourage you to buy the book and read it over and over again.

    His new book The Last Pilgrims is coming out on February 24th. If you liked SOOG, I think you’ll really enjoy The Last Pilgrims. http://www.lastpilgrims.com/ The book trailers will make you want this book!!!! Check it out.

  28. Wow … you, and all your readers, have become my new heroes! Your post is fabulous and the discussion contains so many wonderful ideas. :-) One of my recent changes involves light. We work from home and started experimenting with solar light. We live in an apartment so we can’t make structural modifications but … we can use the light which comes in through the windows. We went and got a couple mirror tiles and mounted them on cardboard boxes (we modified the box so it’s a triangular shape so that the mirror is at an angle). The minute the sun comes around our building and shines through our windows, we place the mirror boxes in it’s path, angling them such that the sun ricochets off the mirror, directly into our work space. Not only does it give us plenty of light, we get some heat from it as well. So, we turn off the lights and turn off the heat. We do have to readjust the angle every once in awhile but, it’s a good “break” activity. And while it doesn’t work all day, it does work for most of the afternoon. Every little bit, right?

  29. Too bad this challenge wasn’t in Dec. my heater and my clothes dryer were both dead. I normally don’t line dry during the winter months, and since it was cold and drizzly I found a clothes rack we had in storage and put it in front of the pellet stove. I later put it in one of our empty bedrooms and dried laundry up ther. It was great because everything was already on hangers, easier to put away. I used a couple skirt hangers for small items like socks etc.

    I teach energy conservation and one of our lessons is on phantom energy. It may amaze you how many things use energy when turned off. Basically anything that charges (battery chargers, electric toothbrushes ect), anything that uses a remote (TV, DVD, radio, etc. ) and anything with a clock or indicator light (coffee makers with timers, microwave, computer, printer, speakers etc).

    For me many of these things would be hard to give up. I can’t imagine my house without sound, I can’t read without music in the backgroud. I lived overseas when I was in the military and one place the electricity went out on a regular basis, so we had oil lamps and candles. Good ones can give enough light to do most tasks. Since I didn’t speak the language my only english entertainment was a military radio station, they would play the old radio show, Have gun will travel and Dark Shadows were my favorites.

    For this challenge, I will get back in the habit of turning off my power strips, unplugging my toothbrushes except 1 day per week, line dry my clothes outside and use the broom instead of the vacuum.

  30. Hi Andrea,

    I was awarded the Versatile Blogger award and I’d like to pass it on to you – if you accept them. I really enjoy your blog and have learned much from it. If you’d like to accept, go to this link – http://ramblingsofahappyhomemaker.blogspot.com/2012/02/whoo-hoo-id-like-to-thank-kari-from.html

    Have a wonderful day,
    Pam

  31. For many reasons, I need to cut back # of hours TV is on, just providing background ” company” , so I am choosing that one as my challenge.
    My dishwasher is so energy efficient, it doesn’t even have a dry cycle, that I used more water and hot water washing by handthan by machine, so i passing on that challenge.

    Anyone daring to bathe without gas or electric powered hot water?

  32. Personally, I spend FARRRRR too much time on a computer, both at work and at home. I do not think it is healthy and desperately need a break. I think I should set a goal of going all day Sunday without turning it on. I will also walk (no power needed other than the 10 toe express) to the store when I need groceries rather than take the car. We have two hybrid cars, but not turning them on at all would be great!

    Thanks for the great blog!

  33. Boy all of you sure do have some great ideas ! I have implemented or tried many of these. Most not on a long term basis.

    I like the idea of trying not to use your stove as often (or at all). I have been using Thive Food for a while now. It is freeze dried and of course rehydrating it would soften it up enough to just have to reheat (over a fire or not) to make a good meal. Freeze dried would make a great snack for the kiddos. Not too mention if you choose NOT to open any of the packaging and just keep it for an emergency they are good for 25 years.. Yup 25 years ! Check out my website !

  34. http://dreamspinnerstudio.blogspot.com/2010/02/laundry-rack-happy-dance.html….. This is the link to my blog post with detailed photos of our laundry racks. They are made from simple 2×4’s and dowel rods, suspended from the ceiling with rope and pulleys. They only require simple carpentry skills, and we installed ours over our wood heating stove in the living room and the Waterford Stanley in the art studio. We do laundry with our homemade detergent, in a med size washer, then hang on the racks overnight. They clothes are dry the next morning and ready to go back into the drawers. Feel free to duplicate our design.

    We have several oil lamps, for emergency, but think we will have a go with using them for a time, instead of the elec lights. We cook with gas and wood, heat with wood and stored propane, only turn our water heater on at the breaker box for about 6 hours per day for bathing, kitchen and laundry, we have no dishwasher, only vacuum 3x per week, and limit telly to about 3 hours per day. We drive a Prius, have a 70′ long greenhouse and 100×100 garden, raise our own beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, and milk. We have a deep well and lagoon system for water treatment. We also forage for about 10% of our stored foods, on our land, and harvest alot of medicinal herbs as well. Our lifestyle is our fitness system, our depression medicine, our food system, and our retirement plan. We arrived on this 46 ac with 6 of our 13 children still at home, and built our (now) 6 br home, one 2×4 at a time, out of our own pocket. I have shared all this to demonstrate, just what may be possible, with dedication…it really is less about $ and more about choosing what is truly important in your life… and then embrace that, one baby step at a time…. Encouraging thoughts to all those who are game to rise to the elec diet challenge!

  35. I am in the process of buying manual appliances instead of electrical ones (also part of my emergency prep). I have a hand meat grinder and grain mill, plus a food mill (manual food processor). I am currently research a manual coffee grinder. The electrical ones make too much noise anyways.

    Great ideas! I am glad you were inspired by the challenge.

  36. Put as many electronics on a power strip and turn off when you leave house, or are just not using. Cell phone plugs, DVD player, TV, etc. When its not tooooo cold or hot turn the furnace completely off – not just down. Even if just for a few hours at a time.

  37. Hi there! Just discovered your website and I lóve it! ;o) I think I am gonna try your 23 days challange of frugal living and oh my.. what a great challange this is!
    I just read it out to my husband, watching TV ;o) I think you can guess what he was saying?
    I do all my washing hang out to dry, but washing them by hand is a challange for me. I think I had to discover your site, because yesterday our washingmachine broke down…
    Thank you so much for all this inspiration. I hope to come back soon!

    Love from Holland

  38. I put down my Iphone and Ipad and picked up a BOOK, went outside and read for a full 2 hours. I have to learn how to live without gadgets for awhile.

  39. Thanks for all this interesting info. My family (best husband ever and two beautiful girls) and I have been trying to cut out the worldly needs of electricity for years. We use Lanterns, washboard, hang drying racks, Lots of sunshine, and barbecue when we can. We just bought a fire pit for out doors and plan to use it often. Unfortunately, we live in a busy neighborhood, and do not have the country house of our dreams.
    We have the dream to live with out any electricity and garden and do a small farm. My girls (2 and 3) beg me to use the lanterns every chance we can. We want a wood stove but are planning to put our house up for sale in 2013 and are afraid it will bring the value down, as this house has a built in gas stove. We feel so “not at home” here and cant wait to get to where we want. I wonder if it will be expensive to convert a home to a non-electric lifestyle at first? I dont want any holes where the dishwasher or oven goes. and it is already very hard to find a home already prepared for the off the grid lifestyle we are talking about here.
    Anyway- great great reads and comments… Thanks everyone!

  40. Due to a drastic change in marital status, I have learned to live a lot more frugally. I have learned I really don’t need the TV on. Most of my “electric” entertainment I get on my computer. I really do enjoy lantern and candle light. With the warmer weather coming I will be hanging my laundry outside to dry.

    I am going back to planting vegies and herbs this year and in the process I also thought maybe it might be a good idea to start replacing some of electric kitchen gadgets with the hand-held variety.

    It really isn’t a long stretch (for me) to drop out of the electric cycle. Kinda makes you feel a bit more free of the ‘Rat Race’ we have to live in.

  41. Hurricane Hannah says:

    Clearly you’ve never been through a hurricane lol we got this challenge beat this week! We have absolutely no power and can’t even use tap water woooo I win ! Lol

  42. I like the idea of being off grid I had the best times in my life when the power was out . People banded together to help and probably the first time got to know their neighbors. This was in the inner city. I have all the bells and whistles in my north woods home. My wife and I are not minimalist by any means but we do practice self reliance . We eliminated television from our daily routine. We also have the firepit going year round . Winter is a bit of a challenging up here but we manage. 4 hours a night we burn dead trees from the surrounding woods. I am fortunate that we have neighbors that are self reliant also. We have computers for entertainment and information. We have enough food stored to feed an army in the event of a catastrophe. Water is huge on our list and as you can imagine you can’t go long without it. If anything , learn how to make water or acquire it from means other than the tap. If you learn that, you could very well save your life and the lives of those you hold dear to you.
    — Former City Slicker :)

  43. Wow! Love this blog! I would like to take a bit more of a challenge of living off the grid. I already, though I am an apt. dweller, do a number of things requiring no electric power–i hand wash clothes using a bucket and plunger, hang clothes to dry on a rod over my bathtub, wash dishes by hand, sew clothes by hand (i have 3 new skirts lately, one stitch at a time), use a broom and manual mop, blow dry my hair with a fold up oriental fan (only cost a dollar), and take only 2 “navy showers” a week that only uses 4 minutes total water usage each week (about 16 minutes of shower water in one month). Now, I want to add to this list as an urbanite. I make “candle lanterns”. Find a pickle jar (or other jar) and fill it about 1/3 of the way with corn meal. Place a utility candle inside and light it with a BBQ lighter. VOILA! A lamp. I also want to unplug the TV/DVD. My challenge is to go one month with these 2 new additions off the grid. I cannot give up my phone for job reasons, but I will post around mid August 2013to let everyone know what one month was like with candle lamps and no TV or movies. Ha! Laura Ingalls would laugh her head off at our dependencies!! I want to read Michael Bunker’s book as well! Wool

  44. Ps “wool”? No. Not necessarily, unless it it to keep warm. I’m using a tiny pre-paid smartphone and made a typo.!! Putting my challenge in print to the world will keep me to my project!! So, see you in a month!!

  45. Hi. I just stumbled across your site and ended up spending 30 minutes here. Great stuff. Thanks for the link above to the CTWW site. I enjoyed a tour there, too. I hadn’t heard of these challenges before now.

    We’ve had a challenge on our site for a few months, and no one has taken us up on our dare to hand pump all their water for a week. Many people do not even realize how much water their household actually uses if they have a drilled well with an electric pump.

    Pumping water by hand naturally promotes conservation. Really, any chore done without electric power or fuel causes us to rethink our wastefulness. Doing laundry by hand prompts us to take better care of our clothes and to wear a garment more than a few hours before tossing it in the laundry bin.

    One of the more popular blogs on our site is a simple one about line-drying clothes. The blog’s popularity baffles me. When I was a youngster, EVERYONE had a clothesline. It was not a poverty-symbol, mysterious or degrading. I love drying out clothes outdoors. It is not a chore and really only takes a few minutes.
    Another benefit of hand labor is that is gives us time to get a closer look at things. I prefer carrying watering cans of rainwater to my garden so I am more apt to see bugs or diseases before they get out of hand.

    I noticed some have commented here about the cost of a hand pump. It surprises me that many people do not place as much importance on water as they should. Water is often hundreds of feet down in the ground, certainly not accessible with a shovel.

    A water supply system to sustain a family is not going to be inexpensive. Any electric water supply system (drilling a well, installing an electric pump, running lines, etc.) costs a lot of money.

    http://waterbuckpump.com/challenge/

  46. I just came across your website and agree that living without electricity is not hard IF you are willing to. I did it myself for well over a year. And even though we do have electricity for some hours a day now, I haven’t used the washing machine anymore and still wash everything by hand (it actually gets cleaner!). I’ve never seen the benefit of a dryer. And of course I wash the dishes by hand! I’ve never had a TV (too noisy and time-wasting). Even the water heater has been out of order for years, so we heat up water to take a bath (on a gas stove, not with electricity. I guess we should do it on a wood-fire instead…). A fridge is not necessary, and it stands in a corner without being used. If you cook just what you need and cool water outdoors in winter, it is easy to do without. Even in summer you can find a shady, windy, cool place to cool water. I love oil lamps, and candles are bright enough to read (if you light more than one). Yes, sleep early, get up early, and enjoy more!

  47. I’ve been 3 years now living without a clothes dryer. Instead I use and umbrella style clothes hanger and dry the clothes INDOORS. This works for all 4 seasons, rainy days and sunshine, no difference. True sometimes it takes longer to dry them but most of the time, I go to bed with wet clothes hanging on the tree only to wake up 8 hours later to dry clothes. I just made a rocket stove out of decorative bricks to do my outdoor cooking and am working on some kind of cover for keeping me dry when I’m cooking with wood. I’ve closed off parts of the house during the winter and only heat one room and made a canopy for my bed to concentrate the heat even more. Inside the canopy the temperature outside the house being at freezing or below, inside the canopy I often easily hit 70+ degrees. And my house heater is only set to 50-64 degrees, depending on outside temperatures. I’m working on a larger version of a rocket stove to heat water for bathing/showering. Right now there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground so I’ll hold off on testing the water heating for a more opportune time. I’m working on cutting out the Frig altogether and am almost ready to go cold turkey in about 2 months. I use “texas air conditioning” during the summer and have saved MAJOR $$$ doing so! Open the windows when it’s night time and closing them when the sun comes up… I love oil lamps but locating odor and smoke free oil is becoming more and more difficult. I get up just before the sun does and go to sleep when the sun goes down. TV? what’s that? I have internet, WHY do I need a propaganda machine (TV)? Internet Radio is also a great benefit.
    More to share, not enough time to do so…. love the tips in this blog and I’m getting excited about cutting the Frig cord! ;)

Mountain Rose Herbs

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