The SHTF might be a lot more subtle than an EMP or a massive natural disaster. We preppers tend to think in black and white, but there are some gray threats out there that few are considering. What if, instead of a total power outage, our country suffered a serious electricity shortage?
That’s exactly what has been going on in Venezuela, since they don’t have enough problems running out of food and other supplies in a previous development of the excruciating economic collapse of the country.
In the latest installment of collapse propaganda, bus-driver-turned-Venezuelan-President Nicholas Maduro offered some beauty advice. He wants the women of Venezuela to stop using hair dryers to save electricity aside from special occasions. He said, “I always think a woman looks better when she just runs her fingers through her hair and lets it dry naturally. It’s just an idea I have.”
This sage advice came along with announcements of further cuts and suggestions. State employees will now have Fridays off for at least the next two months, and he also recommended that citizens make small changes, like “embracing the tropical heat and hanging clothes out to dry instead of using tumble dryers.” (source)
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The electricity shortage has been going on for almost a year.
This isn’t a new issue, but a worsening one. In May of 2015, they tried to sugar coat the rationing of electricity by saying they were just being green. Vice President Vice President Jorge Arreaza explained:
“This is, of course, linked to global warming and the excessive industrialization of capitalism, which never stops, nor has ever stopped, for the effects that it can have on the climate, on society and on Mother Earth.”
When the electricity concern began, public employees saw their work hours cut to 6 per day.Businesses were required to reduce their usage by 10% and new laws permitted police visits to inspect the businesses to ensure that they weren’t exceeding their allotments.
In February, citizens who were already facing shortages and long lines for items like cooking oil, laundry soap, diapers, and food were absolutely stunned when shopping centers were forced to shut off power from 1:00 to 3:00 pm and again from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in a measure to save electricity.
The rationing in Venezuela is a cautionary tale.
Here’s why we need to pay attention to what’s going on in Venezuela: It provides a modern day glimpse into what an economic collapse really looks like, much like the collapse of Greece was a cautionary tale. These are both direct case studies of what happens to the middle class during an economic collapse.
Previously, I wrote about how it could happen here. (Excerpt)
These mandated power rations, the limited amounts of food, the government-funded snitches, the tracking, and most of all, the propaganda, are all what await us in an economic collapse situation. While the Venezuelan government will be facing no limits on their use of electrical power, the people will only be allowed allotted amounts.
Do you think it can’t happen here? Consider the forced rationing of water amidst the drought in California. Rationing that only applies to regular folks, not wealthy people or massive corporations.
It’s obvious that the state really is in the midst of an epic drought. But conservation mandates are not applied equally, much like the electricity rationing in Venezuela.
Golf courses for the rich and famous remain lush and green, while wells across the state run dry. Ordinary people aren’t allowed to have lawns or to even have vegetable gardens, and newspapers are calling upon “good Samaritans” to snitch if they feel someone is wasting water. There’s even an app for that, and Smart Meters are in place to target wasters (Unless they happen to be wealthy corporations, of course. They have different rules and snitching on them will do no good.)
One small community, Outingdale, just received word that strict rationing is now in effect. Residents will be allowed only 50 gallons per day, per person, and no outside watering of any kind will be permitted. This is not good news for folks who rely on their vegetable gardens for food. Meanwhile, the Nestle corporation is busy pumping out the state’s remaining water, bottling it, and selling it back to people for an enormous profit.
Anyway, back to electricity.
I’m reminded of the series, The Hunger Games, in which residents of the outlying districts are only allowed power when the Capitol deems they should have it, such as when they want to air propaganda “entertainment” to keep people in line. In the movie, citizens of the Districts were relegated to cooking over open fires and lighting their rooms with candles. No one had transportation or power. They were not allowed to hunt to supplement their meager food allotments and in the heroine’s District, they were not allowed to use the coal the area was rich with. Uniformed “peacekeepers” patrolled the districts to ensure that the rules were strictly adhered to and that the excruciating poverty was the standard for all residents.
With the widespread installation of mandatory Smart Meters, how difficult would it be to forcibly ration our electricity here?
They can already remotely turn off appliances they deem are using too much energy. At the press of a few keys on a central computer, our electricity usage could be monitored to make sure we stay within the designated limits, strictly slotted to only certain hours of the day, or even cut off entirely if we exceed our rations. It may not even be direct rationing that cuts us off, as it is in Venezuela. As prices of electricity keep climbing, how extreme is it to think that one of these days, electricity might only be for rich people?
However it goes down you can be sure that no one in the government will admit to mismanagement or a desire to enhance control and dependency. It will be couched in warm, fuzzy terms of saving the planet from carbon emissions, much like the propaganda coming out of Venezuela. It’s easy for us to see it when it happens to them, but many people here are so deeply entrenched in cognitive dissonance that they’ll swallow the green pill with a smile, moving into theirAgenda 21 microhomes and martyring themselves for the good of Team Green. (Find the original article HERE)
So…what if electricity was only for rich people?
It’s not that far-fetched, and if you don’t fall into the category of “rich people” it is definitely something you should prepare for.
What if the Big Event isn’t an EMP, but that no one could afford to pay the electric bill? Power prices are going up – what if they rise to the point that it’s a choice between food and electricity? What if the lights in the middle-class neighborhoods just start going out?
Let’s face it, if you really had to pick, you’d choose to feed your kids over having the lights on, right?
What a control mechanism that would be.
What better way to return to a “Lords and Serfs” lifestyle than the strong visible delineation of who has power and who does not?
The rationing of electricity or the lack of affordability would change life as we know it. Our society is incredibly dependent on the power grid, not only to keep us comfortable, but also to keep us entertained. We’ve grown soft. As well, we depend on others having access to electricity to make our lives easier by keeping us fed and clothed, and by making the things we purchase easily accessible to us.
Here’s how to maintain your independence throughout an electricity shortage.
You don’t have to return to serfdom, though. The steps you take and the things you learn now can help you overcome any hardships presented by the lack of affordable “necessities.”
Learn to provide your own food.
If the stores are closed or supplies are limited because manufacturing plants can’t produce food, you’ll have to provide for yourself.
- Grow a garden
- Raise chickens and rabbits,
- Join a food co-op,
- Try hydroponics or aquaponics
- Sprout seeds for added nourishment
- Grow salad veggies in the windows
- Preserve your harvest through canning and drying
- Save your seeds so you can do it all again next year!
For more self-reliance information, be sure to check out this round-up manifesto with more than 300 resources!
Reduce your dependence on the power grid and use less.
If prices skyrocket, there are lots of things you can do to cut your usage. Before anyone starts arguing that this is “caving in” to the demands of those who are rationing power, (because there’s always someone who says that) sometimes it’s a matter of personal economic survival. Whoever survives, wins.
If it’s a matter of the price of power skyrocketing, your ability to use minimal electricity may allow you to still afford to use a freezer, a laptop, or a medical device. It only makes sense that the less dependent on the grid you are, the less you will be affected by a shortage.
- Lights: Solar garden lights, candles, kerosene lights
- Cooking: Wood stove, nutritious home-canned meals that only require reheating, stock up on buckets of meals that only require the ability to boil water, cast-iron dutch ovens to use on the wood stove, sun oven, outdoor fireplace, meals that don’t require any cooking.
- Refrigeration: Pack a large cooler with snow in the winter and use it indoors, get a plastic storage bench that is lockable to be used outdoors in the winter (the lock is to keep 4 legged critters out of it), root cellar for summer, using a spring or creek to keep perishables cool, change of eating habits in summer. (See how this family lives without a refrigerator entirely.)
- Water: Back-up manual or solar pump for your well, 1 month supply of drinking water stored, water filtration system with extra filters, buckets along with a wagon or wheelbarrow for hauling water from a nearby source, rain barrels to collect water, direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs for flushing or watering plants (Here’s a link to my book on water survival.)
- Laundry: Hand wash, hang dry.
- Entertainment: Solar chargers for small devices, read books, play games, engage in productive hobbies.
- Heat: This assumes you have power. Without electricity, see the suggestions in the next section. Run the heat briefly to take the chill off. Keep blinds open if there is some solar gain, otherwise keep windows insulated against drafts to keep the heat in.
- Keeping cool: Check out this article for ways to stay cool without using an air conditioner.
Find other ways to stay warm.
If you can’t afford to run your central heat, it’s important to have back-up methods for staying warm.
Methods that use fuel:
- Wood Heat: Everyone’s favorite off-grid heating method is a fireplace or woodstove. The fuel is renewable and you have the added bonus of an off-grid cooking method. If you have wood heat, make sure you have a good supply of seasoned firewood that is well-protected from the elements.
- Propane Heaters: I own a Little Buddy heater. These small portable heaters are considered safe for indoor use in 49 states. They attach to a small propane canister and use 2 oz. of fuel per hour to make 100 square feet extremely warm and toasty. A battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm provides an extra measure of safety when using these heaters indoors. This isn’t a great long-term option though, since propane might also be hard to come by.
- Kerosene/Oil Heaters: Kerosene heaters burn a wick for heat, fuelled by the addition of heating oil. These heaters really throw out the warmth. A brand new convection kerosene heater like this one can heat up to 1000 square feet efficiently. Click here to read more information about the different types of kerosene heaters that are available.
- Natural Gas Fireplaces: Some gas-fueled fireplaces will work when the electrical power is off – they just won’t blow out heat via the fan.
- Pellet Stove: Most pellet stoves require electricity to run, but there are a few of these high-efficiency beauties that will work without being plugged in.
If you have no secondary heat source, no fuel, or limited fuel, the following options can help.
- Heat only one room. One year, our furnace went out the day before Christmas. We huddled into a small room with just one window. We closed the door to the bedroom and used a folded quilt at the bottom to better insulate the room. If you don’t have a door to the room you’ve opted to take shelter in, you can hang heavy quilts or blankets in the doorways to block it off from the rest of the house.
- Cover your windows. You can use a plastic shower curtain and duct tape, topped by a heavy quilt to keep the wind from whistling through your windows. Take down the quilt if it’s sunny outside for some solar gain, then cover it back up as dark falls.
- Light candles. Even the small flames from candles can add warmth to a small area. Be sure to use them safely by keeping them out of the reach of children and housing them in holders that won’t tip over easily.
- Use kerosene lamps. Those charming old-fashioned lamps can also add warmth to the room.
- Use sleeping bags. Cocooning in a sleeping bag conserves body heat better than simply getting under the covers.
- Have a camp-out. This works especially well when you have children because it adds an element of fun to an otherwise stressful situation. Pitch a tent in your closed off room, get inside with a flashlight, and tell stories. When you combine your body heat in a tiny space like that, you’ll stay much warmer.
- Get cooking. If you have a propane or gas stove in the kitchen, your cooking method may not require electricity. So bake a cake, roast a turkey, or simmer a soup. You can use it to warm the room while making a hot, delicious feast.
- Heat some rocks. Do you have a place outdoors for a campfire? If so, put some large rocks around the edges of it. They retain heat for hours. When it’s bedtime, carefully place the rocks into a cast iron Dutch oven and bring this into the room you’re going to be sleeping in. Be sure to protect your floor or surface from the heat of the Dutch oven. The stones will passively emit heat for several hours without the potential of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning during the night.
An electricity shortage doesn’t end with lack of lights at the flick of a switch. It can have very broad ramifications, such as a harsh cutback on manufacturing, transportation, and retail outlets. Make sure you have your preps in order with long-term emergency food, a well-stocked pantry, back-up plans, and non-food necessities. Take lessons from the way folks survived the last Great Depression and use their hard-won wisdom to survive the next one.
The great thing about prepping is that your general efforts will see you through a wide variety of disasters, even those which gradually creep up on you, like energy shortages.
Do you have any suggestions about reducing your reliance on the utility system? How would you foresee an electricity shortage affecting the average person? Share your insights in the comments below!
Great article Daisy!
A sun oven is easy way to save electricity while cooking food.
During the summer I use my sun oven a lot, to prevent heating up the house with the regular oven. The cooking time is a little longer, but the food is very tasty. I have fixed a wide variety of foods in the sun oven, including homemade soup, pinto beans, pot roast, cakes, chicken, ribs and more.
Just go off-grid, we did and we love it. If you don’t have the yard space, mount them on the roof! It eliminates ALL these worries, and it didn’t cost us that much either. We run our entire house/farm this way – changes your lifestyle a bit, but it’s well worth it!! 🙂
Just a note on the possibility of an electrical shortage in the US. Lake Mead is at a historic low the last I heard. Another problem is the war on coal. It is not economical to retrofit old coal fire plants to meet new guidelines. The use of renewable sources has for the most part been a dismal failure on a commercial basis. I used to have a link to a guy from Canada who documented many examples but I lost the link when my pad crashed and I couldn’t remember enough of the address to find it again or I would pass it on. In any case the war on coal may be a way to create a shortage of electricity.
I live off grid at 62 degrees north latitude so the winter months require me to run a small generator two or three hours about three days a week to keep the batteries which primarily provide internet, cell phone and entertainment. Our lighting is propane and we have a small propane fridge. We have plan B if fuel becomes scarce.
We have a 12 volt 8 cubic foot freezer that stays frozen in the warm months (April through September) on one 140 watt panel and a pair of golf cart batteries. Ambient temperature keeps it frozen in the cold months. We do occasionally have use the generator on this bank especially in March and October. My advice if you are dependent on grid power is to be sure to have the means to can the food in your freezer before it spoils if you are faced with a long term power outage.
At our latitude it would be impossible to supply power solely from solar in winter and unfortunately our location gets very little wind in winter so we have to have plan B if fuel becomes scarce.
Phenomenal article Daisy!
I have a couple of words of advice. If you can get some better insulation (or simply more of it) in your roof, now is a good time to do so. Heat rises, and often times roofs are underinsulated. Root cellars work really, really well. I was very impressed with one all fall, winter and spring. I hope to be equally impressed this summer. For cooking, I highly recommend a wood/charcoal smoker. It’s enclosed, it’s easy to heat, if you get some charcoal in there it will spike above 500 degrees at the start, and then hold steady for hours. You can use the shutters to keep it at whatever temp you want. I often grill hamburgers before using mine to smoke a load of fish or beef jerky. Smoking also cuts down on your need for a freezer, well brined and smoked beef jerky hold up just fine in a ziplock or a mason jar.
Pop in to a thrift store and pick up some extra fabric. A lot of thrift stores have fabric remnants or even whole bolts for a buck or two a yard. Trust me, it’s a huge bonus to be able to mend clothes even if they do look all patchy. If you can afford one, you might pick up a SunJack or other solar charger. They are getting better every year. I’m actually trying to rig a solar charger which normally works on iphones and ipods, to an external laptop battery, to get a charge to the laptop. Unfortunately my brain keeps giving up on the conversions but I’ll get there some day. An ipod or other mp3 player can hold thousands of songs, a solar charger can make it so your playlists won’t die for a long time.
Don’t forget to grab a few recreational books from the thrift stores or library sales. Last power out was about a week long, and all the books I had at the house were how-to books. Useful, but sometimes you need something brainless.
Garden Nut, I think your suggestion of having some books (besides how-tos) stockpiled was excellent. People forget that without our I-phones, computers, and TVs it is awfully quiet around the place, especially 24-7.
It is as electrical engineer Richard Duncan postulated in his ‘Olduvai Theory’: “Although all primary sources of energy are important, the Olduvai theory identifies electricity as the quintessential end-use energy of Industrial Civilization…[A]ccording to the Olduvai schematic, world energy production per capita will decrease…[then] there will be a rash of permanent electrical blackouts worldwide. Consequently the vital…functions—communication, computation, and control—will be lost.
…Mother Nature then solves for us the (apparently) insuperable problem of the Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons, which the human race seems either incapable or unwilling to solve for itself.
Governments have lost respect. World organizations are ineffective. Neo-tribalism is rampant. The population is over [seven] billion and counting. Global warming and emerging diseases are headlines. The reliability of the electrical power networks is failing. And the instant the power goes out, you are back in the Dark Ages.”
Back in the Dark Ages…
There’s a short-term, food heating, and water boiling, device which you left off your list, the lowly fondue pot.
With a low purchase price (Sometimes as low as Two Bucks! Or, a not-so-bad price of around Fifty bucks, new, for a good s.s. one on Amazon.) and, with a small footprint – for the price difference of some other Coleman ways – you can buy yourself a lawn chair and have a space for a cooler with the savings. And, as a bonus, it might be fun to practice with?
Did you know some fondue pots have burners which can utilize both small Sterno cans – and – alcohol?
I didn’t. …That seems like it might be a useful feature.
Bonus question: what’s the shelf life of Sterno cans and alcohol?
Plus, can you name all the drinkable/tradeable/barterable alcohols which you can drink – and burn – under a fondue pot? Ask a college student?
I know of two; moonshine, and Bacardi 151. (Bacardi does stink a little, though.) Do you know of others?
Mang, do I ever wish I was still friends with that girl in Florida whose Daddy taught her how to properly make and test moonshine.
Back to a more everyday side, even a S’MORES cooker type set can boil water and heat food. It might not be too stable a cooking area compared to a regular fondue pot (you Will have to hold the pot while cooking) but in a pinch, it’d be better than nothing.
If you’re so inclined, I wasted some time and detailed the contents of a make-it-yourself (barter item?) ‘mobile kitchen in a bucket’, in the comments section, here:
Can you tell, being in shape, is not a Hot Topic?
I read recently where FerFal was talking on his blog about what refugees need and I thought about the stereotypical 100 pound sacks of rice the ‘relief agencies’ hand out to people in that sort of situation,… what do they cook the rice ON?
Which leads me to the question, is there anything else besides a Sterno can, or alcohol, which can be used to light a fire under a fondue pot? I.e. will coconut oil, olive oil, or duck fat heat it enough to boil water?
What’s your secret recipe for a homemade Sterno can?
Hmm, I just wrote that on my list of things to test. Perhaps I’ll read about someone else’s test, first? (I wonder if Ron Brown covered that in one of his awesome books? That would be the easy button.) …Or, maybe you could test it, eh? You’re a S’MORES-for-fun kind of girl, aren’t you?
You’ve prolly already done it.
I’ll bet you One Cyber Buck there’s a fondue pot waiting for you at your nearest cheap,… er’, frugal, thrift store.
Heh, “Fondue. It’s Not just a 1970’s thing”. Baby.
Also, do you think it would be hard to rig a stove pipe to carry smoke out of a room if you converted a tiny Steno can to burn wood to heat a fondue pot? I’m Shocked! Shocked I Tell YOU! That the apartment prepper guy hasn’t covered that yet. …It must be impossible.
And, if you ever run across a kerosene heater like the modern ones, but about the size of a small lamp, you will post a link, won’t you?
I’m kind of surprised the rocket stove makers and the ice fishermen of the world haven’t come up with one by now. Or, maybe they have, and I just don’t know it, yet? …Or, drat! “it’s Impossible!”
It’s all about, options. …Multiple options.
Could you imagine having control over what’s behind the doors on the TeeVee game show, ‘Let’s Make A Deal? …Yah, imho, that’s what prepping is All about. Possible. Controllable. Options.
Fantasy football, NBA picks, and whatever it is they do for baseball: it’s All for Pikers, wanna-be’s, and flash dancers with no capability to grasp the reality of the economic situation at hand, nor a desire to understand the Power Elite and their manipulated push for war and control of All. Prepping is The Real Deal.
…How ’bout that, I didn’t intend to, but I just realized, what (for lack of a better word) what total and complete Panzies those people are who keep their heads buried under the sand while thinking everything is A-ok in the world. (Wealth via debt, forever and ever!) It’s their choice, but they’re still absolute Panzies for doing it. A.k.a., ‘They suck’. They can’t even be bothered to Look Up and notice geoengineering, for crying out loud!
I’m embarrassed to know them.
I wonder if that’s how the Revolutionaries felt about the Loyalist in 1775?
In spite of that, if (when) things go bad, I will pity them, the Panzies. Thus, the, ‘kitchen in a bucket’.
Even if, it’s only for a few days. …Maybe I’ll come back with more fuel for The Fire?
Maybe. …and maybe, the bully thugs of the world will try and stop everyone from trading freely.
That’s the trend. It’s a horse race now, to decide who is boss (til the money runs out) the turtles at the top, or every free person to be at liberty. … a.k.a. To Be. Or, Not To Be. …Sadly, so far, it seems like most People want to be surfs, … like a moth to a flame.
If you read about it, ‘The Law’ is dead.
Is the animated contest for liberty (in the majority) dead, too?
It certainly seems that way, sometimes.
I really liked these words from The Daily Bell:
“Conclusion: As always, we remind you to take individual “human action.” Create a situation of self sufficiency for yourself and your loved ones as best you can. There are plenty of tools and programs offered by the alternative media that can assist you. If you cannot afford them, improvise. […]
Rely on yourself as much as possible and the opportunities you can develop with your own talent and skill, or along with others such as family members, friends and close colleagues.” …
Psft, for those who scoff – just give in already – ‘Why We’re Giving Up Prepping’
Anyway, I keep coming back to some words, I think it was Claire Wolf who said, “Living free in an un-free world’.
Keep on, keeping on, my fellow Freedomistas.
And, may reality open the eyes of those who pay no mind so far. Otherwise, is America becoming the ‘new’ Soviet Union, complete with a Gulag? … WHo wants that? …And, why? …What the [email protected]#$% is wrong with you People?!?
America has more People in prison than China does.
Let that sink in. Land of the flea, home of the enslaved.
America has more People in prison than China does.
Can you feel a ‘caste’ system developing around you?
I guess, all People can do is, resist. And, encourage those around them to resist, too.
If you cannot feel a ‘caste’ system developing around you, if you do not think that is a bad development. …I pity you. …I might forget you, too.
One last thing, RE: ‘the Dark Ages’. That might not be such a bad thing, search these titles:
Decentralization Hidden in the Dark Ages
Freedom in the ‘Dark Ages’
Top 10 Reasons the Dark Ages Weren’t
Rampaging Hordes – or Darlings of the Dark Ages?
After Empire: Dark Ages or Innovation Explosion?
A Gift From the Middle Ages
Retained Heat Cooking. Hay boxes, wonder ovens, thermal cookers and ways to boil water and food for a few minutes saves a lot of power. It is also a good way to finish cooking what is in the solar cooker if the sun goes down.
I grew up with water and electricity rationing-Eastern Europe. It’s nothing new. It doesn’t require snitching or any clever meters. You simply get your power and water turned off for certain periods of time. It could be that you have electricity and/or water for certain number of hours during the day, or that you have them certain days and not others.
Here in the US we tend to be overly dramatic about this type of stuff, but it really isn’t that big of a deal.
That’s very interesting, Ross. I’d love to hear more if you felt like sharing it.
I know that we can get through any “new normal” by adjusting to it and that most of the folks who come here will be fine. The issue will be with the other people who have never even given a thought to a major change in their lifestyles. Sure, some will be fine, but others? They’ll certainly find not having heat at the twist of the dial to be an untenable hardship.