Thursday, July 8, 2010
What to Do without Electricity
Over the 4th of July weekend we were invited to a family gathering of some friends whose family owns a few houses on the National Seashore of Cape Cod. The agreement is that the family will not install electricity from the "grid" nor indoor plumbing on the properety in exchange for the houses staying on what would otherwise be a seashore with no homes. Some electicity was available from solar panels and car batteries, so the place was not totally dark in the evening. Then there were also the kerosene lamps, just like the ones my Mom used growing up on a farm in Connecticut. Hot water for showers was provided by a clever sytem of water heated in a black 50 gallon drum enclosed in a tiny greenhouse. By late afternoon, the water was so hot it had to be mixed with cold water, just like in the rest of our homes. The social difference this made was that everyone there was focused on the people in conversation and not on the TV. (We used a radio to keep up with the Red Sox.) Local electricity can indeed be produced adequately for one home at a time, provided there is some conservation combined with new lights that use little power. For one extended family, this seems to keep them all together.