This article was written by Daisy Luther and originally published at The Organic Prepper.
Editor’s Comment: It is indeed difficult to imagine life in the United States without power, and with such severe shortages that the government would have to excuse away the shortfalls, and divvy out what remains with an iron fist… or is it?
On a daily basis, we here about how divided the world has become, how impoverished, and how close the economic system to collapse. Could it… really… happen here?
Venezuela Shows Us What an Electricity Shortage Looks Like
by Daisy Luther
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)
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 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 their Agenda 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 withlong-term emergency food, a well-stocked pantry, back-up plans, and non-food necessities. Take lessons from the way folks survived the last Great Depressionand 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!
Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.
Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half Price Budget. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at email@example.com
Also From Daisy Luther: