Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Americans love cheap electricity. We love HVAC and staying up late with all the lights on in the house. We love devices and streaming and unlimited Wi-Fi. This is one of the reasons that I always recommend a focus on backup power solutions as part of your very basic preparedness.
Dare we ask the question: What would it be like to live without electricity?
There are around 180,000 American families living off grid according to Home Power Magazine. This doesn’t mean they are living without electricity, but they are living on a limited supply. It is possible, in the modern age, to live on limited electricity or even none!
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Living By the Sun
One of the first things that will strike you when living without electricity is how the sun runs your life. In less than a week you are going to spend more time living with and by the sun. You will likely not stay up much longer once the sun goes down. Of course, going to bed when the sun goes down means you will likely be up before the sun, too.
Instead of some arbitrary bedtime in your head or waking up at a certain time, the sun will become the dictator of your day and it’s much healthier than staying up till 1am scrolling social media.
One of the toughest things to get used to when living without electricity is the end of high-water pressure. You will struggle with hot water, but you can create an effective system for heating water. Water pressure is very hard to do effectively without power.
Most people do not think about it, but high-pressure water is one of those things the average person takes for granted.
Cooking without Electricity
Nearly 60% of American homes have an electric stove in the home. This stat comes from the Consumer Energy Center. That means that routine cooking becomes impossible in 60% of the homes in our nation. Do you know how to cook without electricity?
Cooking over an open fire or using a propane camping stove or even a wood stove, is a serious learning curve for the average person. Cooking becomes a different thing when you do not have electricity.
Right now, you have at least one fridge and freezer that is filled with perishable foods that would go bad if they were not in a climate-controlled environment. When you live without electricity it changes how you shop and how you store food in your home.
Even a root cellar is not enough to keep food frozen. It will help you a lot to learn how to preserve food. Canning, smoking, dehydrating, and even simply salting food is going to take the place of your refrigerator and freezer. Especially when it comes to storing meat.
While off grid homes can be built with climate control in mind, they can never live up to the ease of adjusting a thermostat. Airflow, shade, and wood fired stoves can certainly make things bearable, but it is a different thing than having a well-insulated, climate-controlled home.
What percentage of entertainment is electronic these days? We spend inordinate amounts of time in front of screens to entertain our brains. The percentage of time on screens increases each year and right now the average American is spending over 7 hours a day in front of a screen. When you live without electricity those forms of entertainment disappear. You will spend more time reading and being outside.
It is interesting how much mindless entertainment goes away when electricity goes away.
There are some secrets when it comes to living off grid or without electricity. One such secret is that you can still get away with using other people’s electricity! If you take a trip to the local coffee shop then you can power up some rechargeable batteries, charge a phone, or even charge up some powerbanks.
Buying batteries is a much different thing than using electricity. Many people who live off grid use lots of batteries. I can tell you that a battery powered headlamp is an irreplaceable tool when you are living without electricity. If your main source of light is the sun, it is so nice to have a headlamp to read after dark or even to slap on when you wake up in the middle of the night.
The dark secret of all off grid homesteaders is the propane tank! Yup. You heard it from me. Propane is a fuel source that many people who live off grid just burn through, literally. If your firewood runs out, a propane heater can make a world of difference. It could even save your life if you are far enough north.
Propane can also be a great way to cook without electricity, as we mentioned. You can even use propane to power an off grid water heater! Now, that is something to consider.
The Slow Down
This may not be true if you are unintentionally living without electricity but if your move off grid is intentional then you are going to experience the slow down. You are going to experience the end of hyper stimulation through your cellphone, radio, television, billboards and any other way marketing makes it into your brain.
In most cases the slowdown is accompanied by a connection with nature that is profound. Being outside in the sun is just better than being in a dark home when you do not have electricity. When you start to spend hours upon hours outside, life changes.
You start to recognize birds by their songs, animals by the noises they make walking and scurrying. You may even develop a better understanding of the plants and trees that surround you. When I first started noticing the life cycle of plants, I knew I had created a new relationship with the natural world.
I would see these young saplings each year and watch them grow and struggle to outlast the competition and even watch them over the years grow into towering trees.
We talked about a lot of struggles when it comes to living without electricity but there are some wonderful things about it, too!
Can You Pull it Off?
Now that you understand what life might look like without electricity, what are your thoughts? Could you pull something like that off? Would you be able to enjoy this kind of lifestyle?
One of the very best things you can do to understand how you will fare in a world without electricity is to schedule yourself a nice long camping trip. Plan to go out and camp for at least 5 days. After about 3 days all the magic of camping has worn off, you start to get low on things like power and maybe even food, ice and you really want a nice hot shower.
A camping trip like this will give you an idea of what it would be like and how you might feel if you were living with limited or no electricity. Some people thrive in these kinds of environments while others absolutely hate it! It is important to know which camp you are in so that you can prep and plan accordingly.
What if You Hate It?
If you really hate the idea of no electricity, then you should be putting a lot of time and effort into assuring that you have power no matter what the disaster is. This means you should be investing in things like
What if You LOVE It?
If living without electricity just seems like another day to you and you even enjoy the things like the silence and the peace that goes along with it all, then you might consider a different course of action. You are the perfect candidate for an off grid home or off grid homestead, even.
No matter how much you love living without electricity, off grid life comes with many challenges and some struggles. There are some things I would recommend for the person who loves life without electricity.
- Consider Moving Off the Grid
- Look at Off Grid Properties
- Have an Off Grid Weekend at Home (shut the power off at the breaker box)
- Buy the book No Grid Survival Projects
It has been generations since most people have lived without electricity. We have grown accustomed to the comforts of living on the grid with a never-ending supply of electricity, climate-controlled environments, and every convenience our hearts could ever desire.
That doesn’t mean living off grid or living without electricity means that you must forfeit a comfortable life. In many ways, living without electricity opens your eyes to things that you have forgotten about. Things like watching the sun rise and set each day. It also helps you to extend gratitude for the things you have rather than take them for granted.
Challenge yourself. See what it’s like to live without electricity for a few days and you will learn a lot about yourself and the world around you.
Thanks for reading! If you're new here, I highly recommend reading this article which explains why civilization is going to collapse. If you want to start preparing, check out our list of free books and manuals and our list of recommended supplies. If you're feeling anxious about collapse, please visit the support page for tips on how to manage your emotions, places where you can get help, and lists of articles and videos on coping with collapse anxiety.