I’m sure that everyone has noticed that it’s really hot outside. Like July hot but turned up a notch.
As some of you know, I lived off the grid in rural Nevada for 22 years. We had a generator that we ran about eight hours a day (four hours in the morning, four in the evening), scheduling household chores that involved electricity around “gen time”. When you live on a generator, every flicker of a light sends chills up your spine. And the sound of the engine missing is enough to ruin a day. We had wind power in addition to the generator, but the batteries were expensive to replace, and they (there were twelve of them) would only power the lights and television. I can’t tell you how many times my kids “turned off” the house by trying to use a toaster or hair dryer when we were on battery power.
When it was super hot outside, as sometimes happens in Nevada, we didn’t run the gen much, so we didn’t have fans or AC during peak heat hours. Instead we closed all the blinds, shut all doors and windows at around 9 a.m. and didn’t open things back up again until the evening hours. It might seem kind of primitive, but it worked (kind of). People have lived without electricity for a lot longer than they have lived with it, so while what I was doing seemed strange to my friends who had regular power, but it really wasn’t that unusual.
Our fridge ran on propane (a chemical reaction between hydrogen and heated water and ammonia absorbs heat, creating a cooling effect) and was 7.7 cubic feet. Thankfully we had two. If you want to have some sticker shock, price a propane fridge. You don’t get much bang for your buck, but they do last forever. But…if the pilot light goes out, then the fridge warms up. Usually the pilot light would go out because of a build up of ash in the flue, and the solution involved taking everything apart and cleaning it and putting it back together. I got very good at it. During hot weather, the fridge would labor due to the heat, the ash would build up and the pilot light would go out. I checked the fridge several times a day to make certain it was still operating.
I now have the kind of electricity that comes from power lines, but the hot weather has reminded me of how I lived not that long ago. I still don’t have AC, but I have two fridges and they are big and they do not have pilot lights! And I can run a fan whenever I want without stressing the generator. I enjoyed my time off the grid, but during the heat, I’m glad for regular power.
What challenges do the hot summer months bring for you?