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10 Things You Only Know Once You’ve Lived without Electricity

For most people, it is nearly impossible to imagine a life without electricity.

How are you supposed to cook your food?

How do you entertain yourself without TV?

And what about those basic needs which we constantly overlook – like lighting and our washing machines?

The thought of living without electricity is so scary that most won’t even consider going a day or two without it.

But there is also a revolution happening.

An off-grid revolution.

Thousands of people are saying goodbye to modern conveniences and disconnecting themselves from the power companies.  Here are just some of the main lessons that people who’ve lived without electricity will know.

1. Living without electricity isn’t as hard as you’d think

Before Benjamin Franklin figured out electricity, we all lived without it.  Nearly 250 thousand Amish people still live without electricity today, not to mention the thousands of people in developing countries.

Yes, some things are more difficult without electricity.  But not having electricity also simplifies a lot of things too.

After an initial adjustment period,  you probably won’t even miss electricity that much.

2. No TV means you have time to relax

Most of us use TV as a way of relaxing.  Funny how I never really feel relaxed after sitting on the couch for hours watching TV!

It was a bit strange at first not to have TV (or radio, internet, etc.) to occupy my time when I first went without electricity, but I soon started enjoying the downtime.

It’s quite nice to just sit around doing nothing but listening to the crickets and watching the stars.

3.  When summer hits, you’ll wish you were nomadic

No electricity meant no fans or air conditioning.  This surprisingly is one of the hardest things for most people during summer who choose to live without electricity.  I personally have trouble sleeping during really hot summer nights.

I later figured out that taking a cold shower before going to bed helped.  During the day I would soak my feet in a bucket of water to help cool down, if I wasn’t doing chores.

Even with these solutions, I still found myself wishing I could go somewhere cooler in the summer months and warmer in the winter.

No wonder why so many of our ancestors were nomadic!

4. Chores need to be done on time

Cooking dinner with candlelight isn’t much fun.  After doing this a few times, you learn to adjust your schedule to make use of daylight.

Other things fall into place as well.   It is nice to have nature keeping your schedule for you instead of the “man” and its pre-decided 9-5 schedule.

5. There is absolutely no need for a gym membership

One of the oddities of modern life is that people have to go to the gym to exercise.  Our great-parents didn’t have to make a point to exercise.

They got exercise in their everyday life instead!
Recommended Reading: 23 survival skills that our great grandparents knew

Without electricity, you’ll find that you’ve got to do a lot of tasks manually.  And I’m not going to lie: some of these tasks are really strenuous.

  • After washing clothes by hand (I use the bucket washing machine method), my biceps got really awesome.
  • Carrying wood beats any deadlifts or squats.
  • My body got leaner from walking to see friends instead of calling them…

The cool thing is that they stop feeling so strenuous after a while.  Soon, you just get in shape and “exercise” is just everyday life.

6. Slow food tastes better

It takes a while to stoke a wood stove for cooking.  Baking in a solar oven is also an exercise in patience.

Not to mention all the prep that goes into getting the meals ready when you don’t have an electric food processor to do the work for you.

For those of us in what I like to call the “microwave generation,” waiting for things is annoying and frustrating.  But good things come to those who wait!

You’ll find that you enjoy food better because you didn’t get it instantly.
Recommended Reading: How to Choose a Food Dehydrator

7. You’ll learn the value of a COLD beer

Sure, there are ways to refrigerate things without electricity – but they don’t do as good of a job as a refrigerator.

I enjoy a good beer, and found myself wishing for a cold one instead of the lukewarm ones I was drinking.

8. Challenges bring forth intelligence

You can’t come up with a solution until you have a problem.  Well, living without electricity presents a lot of problems at first.

  • How are you supposed to mount those candles you got?
  • How do you make a wringer for your washed clothes?
  • How do you haul a huge load of wood in the most efficient way?

People who live without electricity will agree that you find yourself using your brain a lot more than you would in everyday life to find creative solutions to daily challenges.

9. Your family members are actually nice, interesting people!

Without the distraction of TV, internet, and dozens of gadgets, you’ll suddenly find yourself TALKING to your family members!

Yes, yes.  I know that this is unheard of in today’s modern world. 😉

It is amazing what even a few hours in the darkness every evening can do for family bonding.

10. Don’t waste.  anything.

Take away one luxury and you start cherishing the others too.  I was surprised at how much I became a conservation nut after our first stint without electricity.

We still had running water, but suddenly I didn’t want to waste a drop and rigged up a greywater recycling system.

Recommended Reading: Long term emergency water storage

The same went for food and random supplies we’d normally toss.

It all has to do with the off-grid lifestyle which is one of frugality, self-sufficiency, and learning to appreciate what you have.

Would I personally choose to live without electricity forever?

No.  I like my cold beer too much, and obviously enjoy communicating with people online and getting new info and ideas.

But I’d definitely say that living without electricity even for a little while can be a life-altering experience that you won’t regret.

So go ahead and try it for a few days and you’ll probably want to do it again throughout the year.

Have you tried living without electricity? Share your experiences with us on the Primal Survivor Facebook page.


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  1. We were three years off-grid. Luckily it doesn’t get too hot in the summer here in Nova Scotia, and we were surrounded by trees. One thing I really loved was never really needing a clock. Visitors would come to our house and be surprised that it was hard to find a clock.

    When you’re spending most of your days in natural lighting, heating with things like wood (which aren’t automatic at all), you start to get in sync with it. We always knew when sunrise and sunset were, we knew what the phase of the moon was (you didn’t need a flashlight outside in the full moon but during a new moon the entire world was pitch black!), and we were keenly aware of things like sunlight, temperature, wind, all of that. You had to be. It’s harder to light a fire when the wind is strong, and you need to check the animals more often.

    We moved back to town and very quickly lost it. I miss that awareness, but it just doesn’t happen when you’re using artificial light and heat.

    And not wasting! After three years of counting every electricity watt from our solar panels, and CARRYING all of our water both in and out, I am crazy about not wasting.

    • Hi Marie,

      Great point about the clocks and getting back in sync with nature. Also agree, learning the value of not wasting resources is an essential part of becoming more self sufficient.

  2. I remember wanting to cry when we turned the power back on. I miss having candle lit dinners every night with my husband.

  3. RE: 10 Things You Only Know Once You’ve Lived without Electricity……

    Good article! However I found it rather ironic that you pitch your book series at the bottom afterwards that is only offered in “EBOOK” form…. lol

    Do you offer a hard copy of this series? You know, for when there’s “NO Electricity”.. 😛

    • Hello Daniel,

      There’s always one! 🙂

      They are downloadable files which can be printed off for use if the grid goes down. They can also be stored on a laptop or USB for use with battery powered devices.

  4. My children lived in a metal building without insulation for a few years in Texas. We did power a refrigerator & had a lamp, but no other lighting nor heat or air. This took place in Texas & temps do get very high or low depending on the season. Before we got a woodstove for winter, there would be ice on the walls & ceiling every morning. We slept with thermals, flannel gowns/pajamas over those, socks & gloves & toboggan in winter, & eventually electric blanket which was turned on after the lamp went out at night. In summer, our bodies adjusted each season & even though temps were high, we found that we would use a lightweight blanket along with out top sheet at night, in order to be comfortable. …..burning up in the daytime. We do find ways to adjust & maintain, & our bodies & minds will adjust automatically. Although rough, I loved the peace & quiet, and would do it again, but I’m a lot older now & would prefer to be a little cool in the summer heat here. I would be perfectly happy with a woodstove…the heat is so different than any other. It warms you to the core.
    These arecexoeriences that my teenage daughter’s were grateful for. They knew thst no matter the day/time/issue, they would know how to wash & line dry their clothes, be able to cook any meal on a fire outside, & survive where their counterparts might not. In the midst of those days, I was trying to complete a nursing program in college. Trying? Yes. Achievable? Yes. We knew each other better then than ever. We loved & depended on each other as well. Beautiful, but a hard life. Mom & three children, 2 teens, & a little one.

  5. We plan to experiment turning off our power for a month to see how well we can cope. We once went 10 days with no power after a hurricane without too many issues. We are better prepared now. It should be a interesting experience.

    • That’s a big commitment but will certainly test your preps to the maximum. Let us know what you learn from this experience!

  6. Good Evening,
    At bottle of water in a wet wool sock hung in the shade will get cold on even the hottest days.
    Nothing better then a work break with a chilled drink.
    Good Luck out here every one!

  7. Up till this year, I’ve been without electricity, since 2010. I was not able to pay every month. You can survive without it. It is is good to have in winter. I made my own candles, wood for cooking and heat, was free fuel, and also kerocine for lighting. Got my water from natural springs, or doing it at my family’s places. I. Also used a solar panel when they worked. I had a protable TV and DVD player that ran off a web car battery. Had a smart phone from Safelynk that we charged with the solar panels.

  8. We have been trying to cut back on electricity although not completely off grid. We use solar and wind but have to conserve greatly. I did find a nifty way to keep beer and other drinks cold if you have a spring on your property. We built a spring box out of block and mortar with insulated lid and not only do we get tons of free water but even on the hottest days the water coming from underground is very cold so we always sink several drinks in the springbox while working in that area so we don’t have to walk all the way home for a cold brew.

  9. After reading a book in which the protagonist remarks that most “smart” people couldn’t go a month without electricity, I decided to take it up as a challenge. I live in Brooklyn, NY, so I can not say I was off grid. I still used (heated) running water and my gas stove. I used public libraries to charge my laptop and phone and to work with light after the sun went down. I took my laundry to the laundromat. Even with all these exceptions, it was still a transformative experience. Life felt more calm and peaceful. I definitely thought much more about food waste without a fridge, and that stayed with me. Even in the city that never sleeps where time is money and everything can change in a minute, I found that I was able to opt out of all of these cliche norms of living and interacting with the world. I could live a slower life even in a fast city. I’m now looking to build an off grid home.

  10. We lived for over a week without electricity. We have a propane cook stove, so we could cook. We also have a battery converter, so the fridge would still run. We did lose all the food in the freezer though. It wasn’t too bad. We have oil lamps for light, and candles are a must. It wasn’t so bad.

  11. I lived a week without power in Omaha from an ice & wind storm. I had my camping lanterns and propane cook stove. This was in October, but with the storm it could have been January!! I still had to go to work where there was power, but came home to a cold and dark house. I heated water on my gas stove and did sponge baths every night, but it was definitely heaven when the power came back on and I could have a hot shower!! I also had a stock of candles so after I came home from work I wasn’t in the dark … did a lot of reading and knitting … I know it was only for a week, but it wasn’t that bad, of course it was only me and the cats, no small children to care for made it easier.

  12. The closest I get to living with electricity is when we go camping in our 5th wheel. But we are not completely without. Our 5th wheel has solar panels. My son has medical conditions that we can not be with out power. But certainly limits us when we camp off grid. Our battery reserves are saved for the most important things, my sons respiratory equipment.

    But trying to live with limited resourses, electricity, water,.etc sure gives you a new prospective on daily living, not wasting.

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading.

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