Today will be talking about alternative energy resources that are available and some of the various options I have found. We will take a look at plans for lighting, cooking your food, in wintertime heating your home and if you’re really industrious you might even include producing the energy component required for your vehicle.
Starting with backup power, let’s recall a common scenario, when was last time the lights went out at your house and you lost power for a short time. Did you have to fumble around in the dark looking for flashlights or candles? An easy project is to build a blackout kit that consists of a box or container of some kind that you keep handy in a closet or cabinet with some flashlights, spare batteries, candles, matches and maybe even oil lamps. If the power goes out for a short time, you can easily get to your emergency lighting. Keep this kit in one place that everyone knows about and it will be handy to pass out to your family members in case of a storm or something else causing a power outage. Adding some glow sticks might be for your kit too since they don’t need batteries. They typically have a shelf life so they need to be checked and rotated on a regular basis. They are good especially if you have small kids, not only for their safe lighting ability but their entertainment value as well. One other sidebar about having a blackout kit is if you have a reluctant spouse this might be a simple way to get them started down the road for preparations and show him or her the value of having taking the time to do some basic preps.
As far as backup power solutions there are solar panels, batteries with inverters, generator sets, both small enough to power a few things or big enough to run your whole house. Even more options are available like wind and water power if you have those resources on your property. You should consider if you chose to invest in these, even if there were no major disaster, would there be a long-term benefit to my family to have some type of backup power supply. Your individual situation and budget will be major determining factors in deciding how much to invest on a particular backup system. Heck, you might even want to become energy independent, go off the grid and not rely on the power companies and their monthly bill.
One other thing to keep in mind as far as backup power systems go, the old saying from the military is “Two is One and One is None” is something to consider. If one of the major components breaks and you only have one, you have none, so have a backup.
Is your home or bug out location all electric? If so how you plan to cook your food in your electric stove or oven has no power? Do you have propane or natural gas? If these power sources were not available what your plan B? Many of us have a propane barbecue pit and some extra bottles propane, if that’s you then you could be set for a short while.
But you not only need some sort of heat energy for food preparation, you may need it to boil your water to make it safe to drink. There are single burner and multi-burner camping stoves available from retailers in most cities as well as the Internet that range in price from a few dollars to $100.00 or more. That could be plan B for heating food water but they still require fuel of some kind. Plan C could be cooking over a wood fire and there are numerous different ways to that.
How about fuel for your car, motorcycle or generator? There is a wealth of information available online and in books on producing alcohol that can be used to power your gas burning equipment. Making alcohol requires a source of heat and a mixture of something containing sugar that can be fermented. That might not be a bad project to start investigating now while the information is available.
How cold does it get where you live? Do you have a fireplace or other heat source that could be used if the power’s out and there is no more propane or natural gas? Wood has been used for heating and cooking for centuries. The house we live in now was built with a big brick fireplace and we installed a Buck Stove Insert shortly after moving in. It is much more efficient than the standard fireplace as it captures a lot the heat that would have just gone up the chimney. The steel mass radiates heat into the room and a small internal fan circulates heat as well. Kerosene heaters are also highly efficient so if you go this route make sure you have spare wicks and ample supply of kerosene to get you through the winter.
Links to sites for supplies and information covered.
Black Out Kits:
If you don’t want to build your own, click the link below for a shameless commercial link to one on our website…
Solar Power Links:
Locally here in Tennessee
Make Your own Fuel:
Here is my favorite, Steve Harris. He’s been interviewed on The Survival Podcast several times and he’s a hoot….
Heating & Cooking Options: