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While we are currently afforded however much electricity we want, or don’t want, it will not always be that way. In fact, it hasn’t always been that way. Three years ago our area was devastated with a tornado. While our home and family were kept safe, our grid electric was not. We were without power for four days and it was cold. This particular tornado occurred just before Thanksgiving, and the day after our temperatures plummeted to below freezing.
Not only did we have to figure out how to live without grid power for four short days, when we move we will likely be without any power of any kind for a while. Even if we start off with a small solar system, our power won’t be anything like it is now. We will have to wisely utilize what little bit of electricity we have available and not mindlessly use it.
That four short days allowed us to practice a bit with what it will be like without electricity. However, I still practice. Yep, I practice living without power, particularly without grid power. I will find alternative ways to do simple things and I will purposely go without turning on the lights. I already don’t use our clothes dryer, which saves us a bundle on our electric bill. Doing without turning on lights, or other electronics is just another way we are saving some money.
Living Without: Electric Light
When we were without power a few years ago, this was an instant challenge. Since it was in November, the days were incredibly short. They were also insanely gloomy, as is the norm in our area, especially in the winter. Short, gloomy days, no flipping switches to see, and two small children was not a fun event… at all. I had to find ways to light up the house at least a little bit in the dark so we could avoid going to bed at 4PM.
While this was an instant challenge that presented itself, it was actually the most fun! I now regularly do without electric lights, just because I can. We don’t live in the dark, we just use other, non-electric sources for light. Our two girls love it. We tell stories and play board games by candle or lamplight. We also sleep better on the nights we choose to do this. I feel that not having all that bright, artificial, offensive light has a lot to do with it. Our circadian rhythms are more in line with what they’re supposed to be. We fall asleep naturally, when our bodies are ready to. Instead of having artificial lighting that confuses our internal clocks.
We always wake more rested, naturally with the rising of the sun as well. Our mornings are much calmer and enjoyable when we avoid artificial light of any kind, this includes computers, TVs and other electronic devices. It’s difficult for me, since I am trying to run a website, but I do have mornings where I will not get on the computer, as well as evenings. Just so I have no artificial light messing with my body’s natural rhythms. It’s a pleasant surprise how good it makes me feel!
Just because we aren’t using harsh, electric light does not mean we’re not using any means of a light source. So, how do you live without electric light and not go crazy? It’s really pretty easy. There are so many options out there to light the way with a nice soft glow sans electricity.
Non-electric Lighting Options
- Oil Lamps – These will give you nice, unwavering light. While they aren’t bright enough to read by, unless you’re on top of the lamp, they will light things up enough to see where you’re going. No more stumbling around and running your leg into the coffee table. They use lamp oil, which is relatively cheap as well as the wicks. You can get one of these on Lehman’s for around $20. If you have small children, you’ll have to keep them out of reach since they could potentially be disastrous around littles. However, they are a great way to light up a room.
- Alladin Lamp – This is an oil lamp. However, it produces as much light as your typical incandescent lamp. You can read with one of these in the room. They use the same oil as a regular oil lamp and a mantle that provides the light. These burn very hot, so make sure they aren’t anywhere that the heat could ignite and make sure they can’t be tipped over. These cost more than a typical oil lamp (the cheapest on Lehman’s is $129) they’re worth the money to provide you some wonderful light so you don’t need to go to bed at 4PM all winter long.
- Candles – Remember when I showed you how to make your own beeswax jar candles? Well, they not only naturally clean the air. They produce clean burning light! They won’t give you a ton of light of course and you’ll need three or more to read by candlelight. They’re still an amazing light source. Plus, if you have your own bee hives, or you can source some beeswax from nearby, they’re something you can make with just ingredients you have. Check back for a tutorial on how to make your own wicks!
- Solar Lamps – There are some really, really good solar lamps out there today that can provide you enough bright light to read by for hours. We don’t typically have enough sunlight in our area to really make use of solar powered anything, but we do have a few. Look around for some and check out reviews before you purchase. If you live in an area with little sunlight, don’t use this as your only alternative light source.
- Flashlights and other battery operated lights – I almost don’t want to include these. Unless you have an endless supply of batteries, these won’t last long. I know with our daughters, if I let them get ahold of a flashlight, I have to change the batteries every 4 days or so to keep bright light. That gets expensive, and we don’t always have batteries on hand to fill them up. They will help you see, though, and can definitely light your way in the dark. I say to make sure you have at least one on each floor of your home, every outbuilding, and in every vehicle so you can have instant light ready to use in the event that you need it. Check the batteries often to ensure you don’t have a dead flashlight lying around when you need it and make sure you know where each light is located.
This is not an exhaustive list. As more and more technologies become available, more and more ways to light up the dark become available. However, these are the most simple, basic, easy to use, readily available sources of alternative lighting. If you don’t already have a few of each of these different light sources in your home, I highly recommend you get some. You never know and besides you can practice doing without. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the calm, soft light they provide and the atmosphere that naturally comes along with it.