Could you make a healthy meal for your family using nothing out of the refrigerator? Could you fix your hair without your hair dryer? Have you ever looked around your house and wondered what things you have or do because electricity exists? How would your life change if you didn’t have electricity? Here’s my list of some things that are possible only because electricity exists.
- Cold and frozen food at our fingertips. I put this as number one because it can be the hardest thing to live without. Our society is so used to being able to keep food cold. We pack our refrigerators with perishable food items that would spoil in a couple days at room temperature. Where’s the first place we go to look for a snack? We have lost the knowledge of how to store food without refrigeration. A large majority of our society also does not have the ability or desire to prepare healthy meals from scratch using pantry foods. Here is how my family functions without this major appliance: 1o Ways to Live Without Refrigeration
- Hot running water. A hot water heater is a wonderful convenience. Turn on the faucet and hot water is available. Think about it. It really is miraculous! Can you tell that this is what I miss the most? People over a hundred years ago had to start a fire to get hot water. A wood fired hot water heater is in my future, but until then I heat water on my propane stove for cooking, washing dishes, and showers.
- Kitchen appliances. The kitchen is the room in the house that has the most electrical items. It is rather eye opening to count your appliances and know that if electricity is gone, most food preparation becomes impossible. I talked about my experience with this in Kitchen Appliances, Who Needs Them? There are ways around making things like toast and coffee without electricity, but some foods like smoothies, ice cream, popsicles, and raw vegetable juice are completely impossible to make without electricity.
- Light bulbs. I feel like this is hardly worth mentioning because it is so obvious. But without electricity to power them most people would be fumbling for flashlights and candles. (See Off Grid Lighting)
- Carpet. Wall to wall carpeting only exists because of vacuum cleaners. Take away electricity and carpeting becomes impossible to care for. Before vacuum cleaners, people used to take out their throw rugs and beat them from railings or fences. The rest of the time they would just sweep off surface dirt. I don’t have carpet or throw rugs in my home. My mom has a small area rug. She has tried using a manual carpet sweeper, but it doesn’t do the job well and it is hard to maneuver around furniture. Now she just uses a broom to sweep the top of it.
Washing clothes with the push of a button. This is also a miraculous appliance! Put the clothes in, walk away, and they are washed all by themselves! I’ve gotten pretty efficient at washing clothes by hand and I have a good system and tools set up in the bathroom. More than one person has asked me why I didn’t set up my laundry table with washtub and wringer in what was meant to be the utility room of my house. We instead use it for our pantry and extra storage. My answer is simple, “Well, where would the water go?” I need a place to dump my wash water and the bathroom tubs works great for that. Washing machines have a pump to dispose of the water through a hose.
- Central heat and air conditioning. Because of electricity, the western world has eliminated the need to prepare and live seasonally. Electric homes have the ability to keep constant temperatures year round. I write this more than half way through August. My husband and dad have already begun preparing for firewood for the winter. It’s a necessity when the temperatures start to drop in the fall. Last winter was especially cold. Even in Arkansas, we had lots of negative degree temperatures. Our wood stove kept us warm. We started using it off and on in October and November. We burned our last fire in May before spring temperatures were finally here to stay.
- Windows that don’t open. I can’t imagine having a window that was purely for the view, aka picture windows. It is hot today with a high temperature of 94 degrees. I have all my windows open and the temperature inside is 89 degrees. We are sweating, but it is bearable. When it gets above 90 inside, that’s when I really start to feel it. But we get frequent breezes on our mountaintop and I’ve been very surprised at how comfortable we have been this summer with all our windows open.
- Rooms without windows. I rely on sunlight during the day to see when I’m inside. When we ordered our manufactured home, the company wanted to make our bathroom without a window. After my insistence, they figured out a way to include a very small one. It is still the darkest room in the house, but I can see enough during the day. Apartments can be especially difficult without electricity. I’ve lived in many in my life and all the kitchens and bathrooms were windowless. A living space without adequate windows makes functioning without electricity very difficult.
- Women’s Hairstyles: Have you ever gone camping and realized that your hairstyle is just not compatible with roughing it? Numerous women’s hairstyles are possible because of electric grooming products that inhabit most bathrooms, including hair dryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners. I’ve had many different hairstyles in my life, both short and long, and I’ve used all kinds of hair products (hair dryers, diffusers, curling irons, flat irons, heat brushes). I got so tired of it all and the time it took to fix my hair! Now I keep my hair long. I just brush it and pull it back. I spend very little time on my hair and I love it that way! Take away electricity and more complicated hairstyles are hard to maintain. This is the first picture that came up on Pinterest when I searched for “short hairstyle”. I’m sure this takes at least a hair dryer and flat iron to pull off.
- Electronic media and games. Our culture is completely addicted to the screen. Cell phones, computers, video games, and all sorts of hand held devices. I’m writing this article on my laptop that is powered by solar. I’m so thankful that we have enough solar power to keep in contact with friends and family, and put videos and articles online. Without electricity these sources for work, communication and entertainment go away. How would your family function? Would your kids go through withdrawal if their screens were taken away for any period of time?
I’m sure there are more things that I could add to this list. Honestly, I feel like I’ve lived without electricity for so long that I can’t think of any more! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Be aware of what you turn on and off or plug in during the day, and let me know what would change in your life if you didn’t have electricity.