Off the Grid: Living Without Electricity

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Photo by Fotolia/Oleh Slobodeniuk
We buy kerosene in bulk, 5 gallons at a time.

Off the Grid: Living Without Electricity

For the past eight years, our family of four has been content without electricity on our homestead. This is how we do it:

Lights: Kerosene lamps: We buy kerosene in bulk, 5 gallons at a time.

Water: Our faithful hand pump has rarely let us down. Each day, we carry about 20 gallons the 37 steps to the door. We then heat it on the wood stove, if necessary.

Cooking: Propane stove: This has been our only concession to modern convenience — the house gets too hot if we use the wood stove in the summer.

Heat: We heat exclusively with a woodstove. Most of the wood comes from dead trees on our land. We’ve also cleaned up waste wood at old logging sites.

Refrigeration: In spring, fall and winter this isn’t a problem. Mother Nature provides cool (sometimes downright cold) nights to keep food. In summer, we eat fresh out of the garden.

Toilet: Alas, we have come to know the joys and sorrows of an outdoor privy. One would think the worst would be the cold while dropping one’s britches on a winter morning, but it is in fact the bugs of spring and summer. Nothing will bring a romantic dreamer down to reality faster than the bug, and every biting insect seems to visit us in turn.

Entertainment: We recently added solar panels that run a computer and a radio. We could run a television, but in the words of Bruce Springsteen, “There’s 57 channels and nothin’ on.” It’s been more than 10 years since we’ve owned a television.