Power’s off – a morning without electricity and what I learned

Photo by Andrew Butitta Creative Commons license

Photo by Andrew Butitta Creative Commons license

Yesterday morning we had a small power cut in our village. It only lasted a few hours. Compared with the estimated quarter of the world’s population that don’t have access to electricity (or those who have intermittent supply) this seems very insignificant.

Having grown up in the countryside I should be used to power cuts. When I was a teenager we were once out for four days. One of the factors I have always considered when choosing a house is alternative – or non-electric – sources of power (gas cooker, open fireplace). We are also veteran campers who use batteries, gas stoves and some wind up/solar power lights.

However yesterday I realised how ill-prepared we were for even the smallest cut in our electricity supply.

These are some of the things I noticed:

1) Our house is very dark. Our cottage only has windows on one side so it makes the backs of rooms seem dark. We are also north facing which doesn’t help. I discovered that our upstairs is lighter than downstairs.

2) Without power it’s very quiet. I always have the radio on when I’m at home, or there are other background noises (washing machine, bread maker).

3) Without power our house gets cold. I didn’t miss the heating too much as it wouldn’t have been on anyway. However, perhaps because it was dark and I wasn’t doing those household jobs I’d planned to do, ie vacuuming, I seemed to get colder quicker. Without the electric kettle I couldn’t make a warming cup of tea. On the plus side we do have a working fire but, at this time of the year, our wood supply is low.

4) I couldn’t do much. Without power I couldn’t get jobs such as cleaning or washing done (what a shame!) but couldn’t even use the computer as the battery was low and the internet was down. So I nestled myself on the windowsill upstairs and read my book instead.

The electricity came on at lunchtime but I have vowed to get our home more prepared for power cuts. I’ve rescued the camping kettle from the loft, located all our torches and checked batteries, and made sure our candle supply is easy to find. I just need to get batteries for our radio and  more wood and we should be better equipped when it happens next time.

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Interestingly I was reading about WWF’s Earth Hour on another blog (Jen from mymakedoandmendyear blog has just won a WWF ‘Hidden Hero’ award). Earth Hour takes place on 28 March, 8.30-9.30pm,  and we are all encouraged to switch our lights off for an hour to raise awareness about climate change. Power cut, or not, I intend to take part.

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