How To Live Without Electricity – Part I

How to Live without Electrcity - Part ISooner or later, the power will go off, and chances are it will never come back on. For most of us, the loss of power means the complete loss of normalcy. Sooner or later we will have to adapt to a new world. Five primary areas are disrupted if the power goes off and you need to know what to do to live without electricity.

Our lifestyle is so dependent on electricity that we don’t know how to function without it. How do you keep warm when the power goes out? What will you drink if your water system is dependent on electrical pumps? How will you cook your food without an electric ignition? These are just a few of the things you have to consider if you will have to live without electricity.

It’s scary how easy our power grid can be brought down and yet, we don’t think about this, and we take electricity for granted day by day. Anything from a local ice storm to a hurricane can become a severe problem for the local power grid. Not to mention that there are specific significant disasters that can destroy the national power grid for good.

We have to learn how to live without electricity because no one will help us if the world changes tomorrow. Ten years ago the Red Cross suggested that learning how to live without electricity for three days or more should be common sense. The main threats back then were frequent events such as storms and hurricanes. Nowadays, there are threats far more severe. Things that should make us think about how we would live without electricity and how to become self-sufficient when our generator no longer works.

The main threats that will leave us in the dark for good and will force us to live without electricity:

A Solar CME (Coronal mass ejection)

This event is one of the most probable natural disasters that can hit our planet. It’s a significant concern for many states, including the government of the United States. A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a sudden eruption of plasma from the surface of the sun. Is what NASA calls “Solar Storms”.

You’ve probably seen recently in the news about how the Withe House stated that this had become a major concern for our country. The NASA warnings are no longer being ignored, and hopefully, the government will start to prepare.

A high altitude EMP attack

Blackout USAIf a nuclear warhead or any other device that can create an EMP is detonated dozens or hundreds of miles above the Earth, the situation will change dramatically, and the effects will be devastating. Many scenarios are being analyzed by governments from all over the world.

Although a nuclear detonation is a real concern, it is not the primary threat. What worries our government the most is the fact that terrorist organization such as ISIS, are looking for ways to develop and smuggle weapons that will create a long-lasting effect.

Related reading: How to survive an EMP Attack

These ruthless terrorists are getting smarter by the day. The bomb planted in the Russian plane that was destroyed over Egypt is just an example of their evil dedication. The IED that brought down the Russian airliner was a can of soft drink. How long do you think it will take until they manage to create an EMP device and trigger it at high altitude?

An attack on the power grid

When it comes to attacking the power grid, two main scenarios are being analyzed by the government: a cyber-attack or an act of terrorism. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports that cyber-attacks on the electric grid system are increasing in both frequency and sophistication.

The primary sources for these type of attacks are nations such as China and North-Korea. Sub-national terrorist organizations (ISIS has many followers schooled by countries that were eager to help “refugees”) are also a “primary suspect”. An act of terrorism carefully planned would cripple the power grid in minutes. What scares me the most is that it’s much simpler than one would think.

Many people think that the assault on California’s power station was just a rehearsal for something much more significant. Not everyone knows that in only 19 minutes, unidentified snipers managed to destroy 17 large transformers. And the worst part is that it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring everything back to life. Imagine if a scenario like this would occur during a time when the power grid is already being used at full power, like the holidays.

Suggested reading: Essential Tips To Keep You Alive When The Power Grid Goes Down

Regardless of what will happen in the future, we need to be able and live without electricity and the sooner we learn how we can survive without power, the safer we will be.

The five primary areas that are critical to daily survival are light, water and food, cooking, heating/cooling, and communication. Besides these needs, there are also some secondary needs that we have to consider and learn how to deal with. We will discuss about the secondary needs in the following article.

Even if you live without electricity, you will still need light!

For many of the people out there, rising with the sun and going to bed when the sun sets will become normality. The problem is that your family activity doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. To live without electricity doesn’t mean you have to stop whatever you’re doing when there’s no more daylight. You have to carry on with the activities of daily living.

The most familiar and straightforward form of lighting is a flashlight. You need to have one for each member of your family. Even more, you should have an extra set of batteries for each. Even better, you can go with dynamo flashlights if you don’t want to worry about batteries. The flashlight should always be within reach, and you shouldn’t go anywhere without it. Each child old enough to walk should have his or her own flashlight and should know how to use it.

If you plan on stockpiling batteries, invest your money in rechargeable batteries and learn how to recondition them. Don’t let them get drained entirely and always have a fresh set available. If you live without electricity, make sure you recharge the ones used.  Always buy chargers that use multiple sources of power (solar, crank-operated, car’s cigarette lighter outlet, etc.).

Related reading: How To Live Without Refrigeration

Candles are a cheap alternative to flashlights, and you can find them in various sizes and shapes. They never go bad; they are easy to use and are very familiar. The light is soft, and it’s recommended to use them during the nights you keep watch. Your eyes will adjust more comfortable to the dark if you stay in a room illuminated by candles.

The problem with candles is that you must be careful where you place them if you have small children or indoor pets. The safest bet would be to use some metal candle holders. Buy some that can catch drippings (the wax drippings can be used to make more candles).

Oil lamps become a must

Oil lamps produce a steadier light than candles and are a good alternative if you need to live without electricity. They require lamp oil, and although it’s not expensive, you have to calculate your needs and take into account that a lamp oil can burn one or two cups of oil per night.

The downside is that the smell of burning oil can get heavy in a closed room. You need to keep the proper ventilation. An excellent alternative to a classic oil lamp is the Aladdin lamp. The light given off is better, it burns hotter, and there’s less odor compared to other lamps.

Solar power LED lamps are typically the best lamps you can get because you can charge them during the day and use them at night. You won’t have to worry about batteries or fuel, and they are pretty consistent.

You can live without electricity, but you can’t live without water and food.

The loss of power will not immediately affect your water pressure. The big issue is that it will change the purification process or allow contaminants into the lines. If you have a home water pump, the water stops flowing the moment the power does.

The easiest way to guarantee the quality and quantity of water is to store it right now. The typical American uses around 70 gallons a day, but if you are forced to live without electricity, you will have to use much less. For long-term survival, 5 to 10 gallons per day per person would be a reasonable amount.

Consider investing in some water bricks for water storage and in a rainwater collecting system. If your living area allows it, consider a drilled well since nothing beats it in the long run. You also have to think about how you will purify the water if it gets contaminated. You can use bleach, or you can buy a water filter, it all depends on your budget.

Related reading: How to collect and store rainwater

When it comes to food, you have two options: you store as much food as you can or you learn how to produce your own when the supplies run low. Storing food is a basic need for emergency preparedness, and we store food for various reasons. Having a well-stocked pantry that can keep you alive for one year or more is not an unusual thing in these uncertain times.

Storing food can be done on any budget. You just need the proper knowledge and the will to do it. Start today and avoid being trapped in the “I’ll start tomorrow” mindset. From this article, you will learn about the best foods to hoard for when you are forced to live without electricity.

Producing your own food is another thing, and it’s probably not an easy task. From gardening to raising livestock, it all requires a lot of work and knowledge. There are all sorts of books on farming, hunting, fishing and other methods of procuring food. You can get them from the internet and build your own homestead library.

It’s true that there are some shortcuts or ingenious methods like aquaponics and aeroponics, but they also require a particular knowledge to be efficient and exploited successfully. Regardless of how well you are prepared, a life without electricity will force you to go back to the old ways and produce or procure your own food.

How to cook when you live without electricity.

Eating cold beans for meals is not ideal, and it sure isn’t satisfying. In an emergency situation, a hot meal goes a long way toward soothing the morale. If you are forced to live without electricity, you have to consider both outdoor and indoor cooking. You also have to think about cooking alternatives that are not fuel dependent.

Outdoor cooking like grilling and barbecuing work well during an emergency situation. However, it’s difficult to cook much more than meats and firm vegetables over an open fire. Campfire cooking works excellent if you have a Dutch Oven and there are many recipes you can try with this method. You can even bake with a little bit of practice.

Portable propane and butane camp stoves are like ordinary home stoves, and there is no difference in the cooking results. There are many models on the market, and you can opt for the ones that are the most efficient. It’s an investment you won’t regret, and it will provide you with a hot meal.

Multi-fuel general camp stoves are a good option if you can use them outdoors or on a covered porch to prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home. All cooking options that are fuel dependent can be used for a short time until you run out of fuel. It’s essential to know the efficiency of your appliances and BTU output of the fuel you are using.

Recommended reading: Fuel Type options for Emergency Preparedness

Solar cooking is another option if you have plenty of sunlight and if you are willing to adjust the cooker to face the sun. A professional solar oven is a good investment because it doesn’t require fuel, it doesn’t create smoke to give away your position, and it’s easy to carry. You can also build your own solar cooker if you are the handyman type. Youtube can help with all your DIY projects.

Improvised cooking will play an essential role if you are forced to live without electricity. This becomes an essential skill if you have to travel from one location to another.

Heating and cooling when there is no power

If you have to live without electricity, you need to learn how to prepare for season changes. When it comes to heating, wood stove heating is probably the best alternative. It is more common and comfortable to use today,than it was three decades ago. You need to plan in advance, and wood cutting should be on top of your to-do list. Besides cooking, you will need a good amount of wood to heat your home.

An average three bedroom home that is properly insulated requires 8 to 15 cords of wood throughout the winder. The quantity may differ from region to region, but this provides you with an idea of what you should expect when heating your home with a wood-stove. Always go for hardwoods such as oak and walnut as they burn better and longer than softwoods.

Related article: How to make the right fire type for your needs

Propane heaters work just as well, but you will need a propane tank for them to work. You will eventually run out of fuel and you will have to procure some more. The same goes for kerosene heaters and sooner or later you will have to learn how to make do without them. These are just a short-term solution that one can use since they are already in place.

Solar heating is a method that works even during winter and Earthships homes are the proof for this. The trick with solar heating is to be able and capture the sun’s heat during the day and release it slowly at night. There are various materials that you can use to build your home, materials that are designed to capture the sun’s heat. Another option would be to build a solar heater from soda cans. It’s quite a practical solution and it heats the air directly.

There are also other emergency heating solutions that can be improvised, like the terracotta heater, but these work only for short period of times.

Cooling can become a problem if you are forced to live without electricity. It may take a toll on your batteries supplies. Battery and solar powered fans will keep air moving and shading the windows will help you cool down. You have to keep air flowing and stay in the rooms that are facing away from the sun. Hanging a wet sheet in front of a breezy window will help cool the passing air as well. Planting trees and fast-growing vines in the vicinity of your home will also help.

Shop smart

In terms of refrigeration, there are all sorts of butane fridges available on the market. In fact, there are many tools that use butane and are just as practical as their electrical counterparts. I have a butane soldering iron and is just as good as the electrical ones.

Reaching out to people when you are forced to live without electricity

In a time of distress, keeping in contact with others and knowing what’s happening in the world will maintain continuity and confidence. Communication methods will all depend on the disaster that forced you to live without electricity. A HAM radio is probably the best option to listen to the outside world and get unfiltered information.

If an EMP attack hits us, communicating with others will become a problem for most of us. Many HAM radio operators have considered a protection system for their devices, and it usually involves building a Faraday cage. Another method of gathering information would be to get it from travelers or domestic refugees.

The people that are migrating are the best source of information. You should be able to find everything you need to know from them. The best way to approach this is to infiltrate among them and travel together. Do this for a short period until you find out what you need. If government structures are still standing, you will be informed about what is going on and what “you need to do.” This is not the best approach, but you will at least know how you’re standing and what you should be doing next.


Learning to live without electricity is not easy, and it requires practice. You should experiment to live without electricity for a few days and learn from that experience. It will be an excellent occasion to find out what supplies you are missing, what skills you need to develop and how your family reacts to this break from normality.

Part two of “How to live without electricity” available here.

Self-sufficiency and Preparedness options:

Blackout USA (EMP extensive prepping guide)

The LOST WAYS (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Drought USA (A DIY Project to secure unlimited fresh, clean water)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis)

Bullet Proof Home (Learn how to Safeguard your Home)



4 thoughts on “How To Live Without Electricity – Part I”

  1. Well, we really never lost everything. We went 28 days without electricity at the house. We had a couple generators though. City water pressure came back after 5 days. Natural gas we never lost but the line to the house busted so we couldn’t use it. I snaked a hose over the roof we still had and the sun heated up the water in it. It really wasn’t a big deal. This was in South Florida after hurricane Andrew. Clean up was a big deal. Especially the swimming pool. Kinda annoying but my wife went to work every day 30 miles north of the house and I went to work every day at the nuclear power plant right in the middle of the hurricane’s path (we had plenty of power there).

    We had an ice storm here last year at our retirement home in east central Tennessee. No power (all the poles were down). No problem. We drove over to my mom’s house in a retirement community with backup generators and stayed there for a few days. It’s only a few miles away. But this stupid house we live in dropped down to like 40 degrees in like 12 hours. Couldn’t buy gas for the generators because the gas stations also didn’t have power. Guess what I’m buying next week…

  2. I don’t see it as living without electricity, but more as living without the grid.

    Why I say this is that today we have solar lanterns and flashlights that charge themselves. and while I have grid power I use solar lights every night and they work well.

    I also have solar panels (not as many as I would like) to run things and supporting hardware like batteries and charge controllers (I have spares of these in a metal garbage can)

    I also have a propane demand water heater that uses 2 D batteries to ignite the propane and heat water as needed. I live in Northern Ohio so water is all over.

    And also I collect rain water but need more storage as I only have 4 barrels to collect it. It rains all the time where I live and I have never ran dry but more storage would be nice.

    And I also have wood heat as a backup to natural gas.

    I have the parts to make a Rocket Mass Heater (as soon as I reinforce the floor) and plan on building it next summer.

    A few years ago I bought a book at a garage sale ($1.00) “How to live without electricity and like it” by Anita Evangelists. While it’s not got all the answers and technology has passed it up a bit, it’s still a good book to have for anyone planning to move to an off-grid life.

  3. I recommend a STOVETEC burner heated with wood or charcoal. This little stove is amazing. Only for outdoor use.

    And I recommend a chafing dish and candles, both available at Sam’s Club, for indoor use.

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