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

Last Updated: June 21, 2021

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, the 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.

Leave a comment

  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.

      • Actually with a lot of people don’t realize is that you can live off grid on your own grid using self-generated power created by various alternatives to buying power from the government. The following are some of my favourites not tried-and-true but I know they would work.

        = building your home or camp close to a running fast Running Brook or a body of water that you could make a dam or let the Beavers do it for you, you used car alternators that are hooked up two turbines the sit Within the moving water which was spin the turbine the spinning the car alternators or any kind of alternator and then could easily charge 12 volt batteries of course the bigger the alternator the size for the moving water and the bigger the turbine the more 12 volt batteries you’re going to get the charge or 24 volt will be even more preferred then a person could easily just use a 12-volt power to charge cell phones in various other devices but for people who want to run devices that require AC power you can buy simple DC to AC converters and then run your microwave, that TV although I wouldn’t suggest it but you could TVs take very little power, the toaster although that could be done on the wood stove, washer and dryer if you really didn’t want to do it by hand a simple apartment size washer and dryer of course all your power generated by the dam would likely go towards the washer and dryer and that’s it. But that’s not the only way to generate power that’s just one way you would generate power for your household Off the grid.
        – once again big alternators best to use ones from transport trucks or big machinery if you have the power to turn them if not simple Automotive alternators climb a tall tree clear all the other trees around it where the wind hits the top of that tree all the time start setting up turbines windmills one could even use the blades off of a fan like a big box fan or something and just angle I’m so that when the wind hits them they spin the resulting energy created from that wind spinning the fan blade could then be transferred to an alternator which could then be transferred to charge your collection of 24 volt and 12 volt batteries. Of course it was set up ways to adjust from the ground to position DIY windmill and always be able to make sure that your windmills cuz you’re going to build more than one of these obviously you’re going to build multiple set ups same with the water dam generators are angled the hit the wind properly to spin the alternator thus giving you power daily especially during storms to your 12 volt and 24 volt battery pack collection.
        – Solar pannel power
        – then the ultimate one and this would be the one that would give you the power that you need for the backup to ensure that you never run out of power a generator diesel fuel generator that runs off of refined vegetable oil or fryer oil fryer grease whatever as long as just refined and it can burn like diesel fuel cheaper than buying diesel fuel better for the atmosphere, this would provide a lot of power I mean lock the running buses off this stuff fryer Grease and get it for free or cheap just make your trip into town go to your local restaurants where you maybe when you like to eat and ask them if you could have air fryer Grease instead of them just throwing it out. Refining it wouldn’t be that hard it would be a simple distillation process that would have to be done carefully so that it doesn’t ignite but do you know what you’re doing it can be done and probably even over an open fire or on top of hot coals or whatever on top of your wood stove heck actually here’s an even better idea just use the Empire filter fryer Grease start the diesel engine with diesel fuel and then switch over do the old fryer Grease that’s not refined the diesel engine will still run it’ll diesel the fryer Grease that will give you all the power you need off simple fryer Grease. This combined with the other two methods should power a whole household no problem Off the Grid. It’s actually been a dream of mine for a long time to build a home in the woods erect windmills, build water dam electrical generators, multiple windmills and you probably find yourself hardly ever using the generator but like I said you can start that generator with just a little bit of diesel fuel and once you started it and it warmed up you can easily run it off regular old unrefined fryer Grease with a switch over valve

        And then a chorus simple wood stoves and use the trees around you as long as you plant two for everyone you harvest. And that’s how I would live off the grid on my own grid. So just because you move out of the city and into the woods doesn’t mean you have to go without power and with how well is a lot of cell phones work now with the satellites and all you may even get internet in your cabin in the woods then Hunt game with crossbows and stuff for your food a person could get back to the roots of how humans were without completely going without power.

        • Great info – thanks! Unfortunately, a lot of states still have laws which make it really difficult to go completely off grid. And then there is the personal decision of how much one is ready to give up the convenience of being connected to the grid. Going off-grid does have a fairly high learning curve. You are either going to spend a lot of money up front for a good system or spend a LOT of time learning how to get an affordable system running without glitches.

  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.

  13. Just about old enough to remember homes without refrigerators and freezers and went through the three day week in the 1970’s when the national grid was shut down! Still prefer to read paper books rather than electronic versions. As a student we were well versed in cold water cooling; the only use a student has for a bath is either sleeping or keeping your beer cold (not possible at the same time – many have tried).

  14. Solar can be made to work really well. Small fans are now available which have USB ports. It’s all about Batteries, keeping Panels clean, and learning to shut things off when your done with them.

  15. I live for more than a yr with out off grid in 1985 with 5 young children we had no running water, we had wood heat, propane stove and later a very small propane frig. We packed every drop of water to cook , drink and clean and dish water and bath water was used or than once to mop floors, flush toilets etc.. we had a tv/ radio that ran off of 12 volt battery , that me had on for maybe 1 or 2 hrs in the evening, kerosene lamps for light we did just fine .
    My oldest was 9 and youngest just 1 yr.
    We had chickens and goats for fresh milk and eggs as we were 21 miles from the closest store/ gas station.
    We shopped once a month. We lived in northern California where you have all 4 seasons when it was hot we spent our time at the river and under big shade trees my children all learned how much water we had to pack for everyone to bathe , how to stack wood everyone helped!

  16. Sorry, can’t agree. We lived for over 20 years without electricity & raised three sons in that time. A fridge does save a lot of work, less preserving to do & it works better than a coolgardie safe, but it is not it is not a necessity.
    New England Australia.

    • Thanks for the comment. You are right — something is only a “necessity” if you can’t find a way to adapt and adjust.

  17. Thoroughly enjoyed it -once realised it was to ‘stay’ a while! Area power cut in NSW due to massive flooding- peace quiet fresh air fresh sounds no hum water tanks overflowing so shower was under overflow pipe- best showers ever- this was deep in country nearest neighbours mile away- food- always well stocked, bottled water too- BBQ really came into its own that year. Great memories- thanks for kick-off!

  18. When I was a child, we had electricity, but I wanted to cook
    On a grill, so I made one from an old ringer washing machine, I used it alot it worked really good


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