The Other I

August 12, 2009

A plan for hunkering down

Filed under: Environmental Issues — theotheri @ 3:57 pm

National papers and news magazines here have been running articles this week on the likelihood that Britain will experience a shortage of electricity and repeated blackouts in the coming years.  Poor planning and government policies are the main culprits, and it is a problem that is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.

So we have been talking about how to reduce the impact on our lives of an erratic electricity supply.  We’ve run down the list of our options in the likely event that we are faced with the prospect of hunkering down.

Last winter we installed a multi-fuel stove that heats the main living areas with either wood or coal, and greatly reduces our dependence on our central heating system which requires a supply of oil with a boiler requiring electricity.  We’ve already insulated the loft, walls and windows to above-industry standards but I am tempted to get reflective radiator panels for our old-fashioned radiators, and add an insulated lining to our window curtains.  We also have several mobile heaters that work with gas canisters, so we are unlikely to die of hypothermia.

The multi-fuel stove also has a cooking ring which will at least boil water, and we still have our camping stove that we’ve used more than once to cook entire meals.  So we probably won’t starve.  We could even invite our neighbours in.

Also left over from our camping days, we have an array of flashlights that work forever if you shake them and battery-operated lanterns.    So we won’t have to go to bed with the sun.  And we could supplement our current back-up system with solar lights, I think.

One of our computers works on a rechargeable battery, but that will hardly make up for regular computing or television.  But if we have books and lights, I suspect we will survive around the fire.

We don’t have any back-up for heating hot water and wonder if we should install solar panels.  Right now, a windmill on the roof to generate our own electricity seems a step too far.

And we don’t have a serious back-up for food we might have in the freezer.  Not opening the refrigerator door and hoping the electricity is turned on soon is definitely a short-term strategy.  Eating everything very fast also doesn’t seem like a winner.

But the whole process of thinking about it and radically reducing our dependence on an an external electricity supply was sort of fun.

Rugged individualists that we are, we even went outside and talked about planting cabbages and cauliflower between the rose bushes.

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