Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Intermittent electric

For a lot of my Peak Oil preparation I have been thinking in terms of off/on, black/ white. It is hard for me to see the transistion in between regular ole' today and the post-peak future. Often I have thought that "We need to get that thing / practice that habit in case there is no more electricity". Then I would think "Will it really ever come to that???"

One thing that occurred to me today. I don't know if electricity will disappear, but I feel I can be reasonably certain, based on what is occuring across the world, and precedents in our own history, that we may see the following:
  • Very expensive electricity
  • Sporadic blackouts as supply can't meet demand at peak times
  • Downed power lines / broken transformers are not repaired in a timely manner (like weeks!)

Thus it makes sense to:

  • Conserve as much as possible
  • Find non-electric and non-fossil fuel alternatives
  • Invest in some PV gadgets

So, what am I doing/planning now?


  • Have super-insulated the house
  • Replacing one giant single-pane window
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Geo-thermal heating / cooling (but looking back, not sure if this is an efficient use of funds)
  • CFLs
  • Good energy hygiene (turning off lights, trying to use fans instead of A/C)
  • FUTURE: Need to get solar dryer

Non-electric alternatives

  • Global Sun Oven (my favorite - works great!)
  • Reel mower
  • Solatube (for daylight)
  • Replacing a non-opening window with one that will open, to get a breeze through the house
  • Having lots of warm clothes and blankets on hand
  • Have a 800-gallon rainwater storage system, still need a handpump
  • FUTURE: Solar clothes dryer :)
  • FUTURE: Solar food dryer, keeping food without refrigeration (dry cellaring)
  • FUTURE: Clothes washer & wringer
  • FUTURE: Wood cookstove

PV Gadgets

  • Solar charged lantern
  • FUTURE: Solar charger for cell phones, iPods, anything that runs on a battery
  • FUTURE: Micro-PV system to run the following: 3 CFL lightbulbs, 1 ceiling fan, 1 TV or 1 laptop 2 hrs/day

You can see I have a lot to do! Since I have zero experience in living without electricity, fill me in if you know any tips! Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for wood cookstoves. I just have no experience with them at all, and they are quite expensive. I don't want to make a mistake on that front.


Lewru said...

Hmm. I don't have much experience without electricity, either, except for that brief period living in Senegal. We did have it there, if you count a light bulb and one main jack in the house.

They had a kerosene or propane (not sure) gas burner that they set up outside to do all cooking. Things were bought and used on the same day. Everything was hand-washed and air-dried. However, I had abundant access to batteries for things like flashlights, walkman, etc.

During the ice storm of ought-seven my main memory aside from freezing to death was the utter boredom. Think about low-fi things you can do with no electricity - reading by candlelight is hard, but you can play board games. Or go to bed earlier. :)

Lewru said...

Saw this and thought of your question: