If you're planning on going completely “off the grid,” knowing how to survive without electricity is definitely a must-learn skill. Here are some tips on what you should prioritize as you make this next big move.
10 Tips on How to Survive without Electricity
1. Prepare a List of All Your Essentials
Before anything else, make sure to have a list of all the basic, essential things you'll need to have with you once you decide to live without electricity. Make sure to consider factors such as food storage or cooking materials.
A smart choice would be to have more shelf-stable foods. Keeping food cold or preserving them without electricity can prove to be a bit of a challenge. Often, this might involve having to dehydrate, ferment, or can as much food as you can to prolong their lifespans.
Additionally, think about the different tools you might need when you are already living off the grid. Having sets of axes, saws, and sharpeners will come in handy when procuring firewood that you will eventually require.
Furthermore, a toolbox complete with hammers, wrenches, pliers, tape measures, etc. will also come in handy should you need to make repairs around your homestead.
2. Figure Out the Collection and Storage of Water
Setting up a water collection and storage system is the first thing you should figure out when learning how to survive without electricity. This first step is the most crucial for your health.
If you have access to surface water, you can simply collect it manually in buckets. However, this will take a lot of time and effort.
An easier solution would be to retrofit a well with a hand pump. With some planning, you can even set your plumbing up so that it pumps water directly into your kitchen sink. This is perfect for general household use such as cleaning, doing the laundry, and of course, cooking.
Another good source of water is rain. A rainwater collection system should allow you to collect water from your house's roof and channel it directly into containers.
A windmill can also pump water into your storage tank. This then moves the water directly to your home with the help of gravity. This is a great way to set up your house's plumbing without the need for an electric pressurized system.
Regardless of the option you go with, make sure to keep at least a week's worth of water ready. Keep in mind that you will need at least a gallon of water per person per day for drinking alone.
3. Consider Food Storage
Right after water, food should be the next item on your list. Without electricity, you will have to figure out a way to store your food.
Cellar storage is one of the most convenient ways to store food when you don't have electricity. Often, this involves the use of a storage location that utilizes the earth's natural insulating, cooling, and humidifying properties.
Canning can also be used to store a lot of vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, peas, carrots, etc. Meat can also be canned.
Another ancient way of preserving food is dehydration. While originally making use of the sun, the process now typically involves dehydrators. Dehydration is a great way to preserve food while making sure that they retain their nutritional value.
Salting is also an effective method of preserving meat. The process draws the water out of the meat, slowing down spoilage and enhancing flavor.
4. Try Other Methods of Cooking
A small patio cooker or a gas grill can be your go-to alternatives when it comes to cooking. However, if you really want to experience the old ways, then wood should be your fuel of choice.
There are wood stoves designed specifically for kitchen use. Just remember that use of this often takes practice. You can use a damper in the stove, a flue, or both to control airflow. In turn, these increases and decreases in airflow also allow you to control the temperature.
If you have no other choice, you can also try using solar ovens, smokers, and charcoal grills.
5. Learn about Alternative Sources of Heat
The winter season can be an especially challenging time for living without electricity.
A quick hack could simply be to use the same wood stove you use for cooking. A decent-sized wood stove or fireplace should be able to heat up a relatively large space of your house. Plus, if you use it to cook indoors, you're already hitting two birds with one stone.
Of course, you can never go wrong with some exercise. Getting your blood flowing is a sure-fire way to warm you up. Afterward, wrap yourself in a blanket while you rest.
Clay pot heaters – those stacked terracotta pots with candles inside – are also a good alternative. Just make sure to be careful with them as they can be a fire hazard.
Improving the insulation of your house should also help regulate your house's temperature.
At the same time, you can also cover bare floors using rugs, place towels under doors, and pull back curtains during the day. These should allow sunlight to heat up the interior of your house during the daytime and retain some of that heat when it starts to get cold.
RELATED: A Complete Guide To Campfire Cooking
6. Figure Out How to Keep Cool
Perhaps the only thing harder than staying warm is keeping yourself cool. This is probably when you'll be most tempted to switch back to having an electric air conditioning system.
One of the things you can do to keep cool is to put up blackout curtains and leave them closed while the sun is up. This should block out the heat coming from the sun during the daytime.
At night, leave your windows open to allow the breeze to come in. If you want, you can also sleep on the lowest level of your house, as this will typically be the coolest. Additionally, try wearing light-colored shirts that fit loosely to allow air to flow through your body.
Improving the insulation of your house can also go a long way. This is effective in improving the ability of your house to maintain its temperature. Plus, it works both in keeping your house cool, as well as in making it hotter when necessary.
If all else fails, hang out inside a tub of cool water that, hopefully, you were able to collect from your rainwater collection system.
7. Create a Toilet System
If you're planning on going off the grid, having a toilet system should also be a top priority. Having good hygiene and sanitation is an often overlooked aspect of learning how to survive without electricity.
One of your options is a bucket system. To do this, simply put a garbage bag inside the bucket. Before someone goes, put either kitty litter or peat moss inside the bag. After he or she is done, add a few more on top.
For hardcore homesteaders, a compostable toilet is also a great choice. This allows the person to evaporate the water out of human waste. The process leaves only the compostable and odor-free solid waste that can be used in gardening.
If you have a conventional toilet, you can simply use gray water sourced from washed dishes or baths to flush your toilet.
8. Always Factor in Lighting
When there is no electricity, dark means really dark. This is especially true if you live miles away from town. With most people being used to walking into a room and turning on the light, how will you light up your house if you're planning on living off the grid?
In the daytime, this won't be much of a problem. Natural lighting is the answer to your problem. Take advantage of this by installing large windows or some skylights in your house. Additionally, mirrors can also reflect more light into your home.
At night, the problem becomes more apparent. Lamps powered by kerosene or a different kind of lamp oil have been used by humans for millennia. These should be your first choices.
You can also use headlamps, flashlights, lanterns, or candles for when you have to move to different rooms. However, these are only temporary solutions and should be used with caution. They present fire hazards, especially when there are children around.
9. Finish Chores during the Day
As much as possible, a useful life hack to keep in mind when learning how to survive without electricity is to finish your chores before the sun goes down.
Remember: None of those tasks will be easy or fun to do by candlelight alone. Adjust your schedule accordingly and maximize the daylight.
10. Look For Other Entertainment Choices
Whenever the discussion of how to survive without electricity comes up, people would often only think of the basics: Food, water, staying warm. How they'll keep themselves occupied once they have those basics established is something that is rarely given any thought.
The good news is that you will most likely have your hands full anyway. Living an electricity-less life will be a big adjustment. It will add a lot to your once simple day-to-day tasks.
When you have adjusted and doing your usual chores is already a breeze, then there are a number of things you can do to pass the time. Take up hobbies such as exercising, swimming, fishing, or even hunting.
Here’s an infographic guide. Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
Rainwater harvesting is one of the first must-have skills when learning how to survive without electricity. Check out this video from City Prepping and learn how to build your own rainwater collection system:
Going off the grid and learning how to survive without electricity can be a huge but rewarding experience. Make sure to keep the tips above in mind so you don't start this next step in your life unprepared.
Do you have other tips on how to survive without electricity? Share them with us in the comment section below!
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