Cooling breezes with open windows, eating foods that don't need cooking, shaving with a non-electric razor, giving up the use of the hair dryer, are a few of the ways electricity is saved. Electricity is necessary, but as our ancestors knew, it is possible to live abundantly without it. Below is a scenario and comments how to manage our homes and how to cook our food by other means: As we zigzag between then and then, we will find alternative methods of utilization. Understanding this gives us the best of both worlds.
It is certainly possible to cool foods - as well as cook foods - without electricity. After all, refrigerators as we now know them are a relatively new invention. They only became plentiful and in most homes after World War 1. Installment buying made them affordable to people who otherwise would have had to do without them. How then does one cool homes without electricity?
For the purpose of this topic let's pretend we are living in a rural farm house and have only enough money for the basic necessities such as food, gasoline for the car and lots of ingenuity. The process of paying for the necessary wiring needed to bring electricity to our farmhouse exceeds our ability to pay. How do we cope?
We take advantage of every conceivable means of cooling our home. The screens have been patched and are useful for another season at least, therefore opening our windows in the early summer mornings to let in cool air and closing them and the well worn draperies to keep out the afternoon sun is something we never forget to do.
A large oat tree that blocked the breeze from a nearby lake has been cut down and it allows for more fresh air to make its way into our old house. Shade trees that keep the front porch cool are left standing. Since we do not have electricity we cannot make use of window fans but we make use of whatever piece of cardboard that is handy, when in the afternoon we have become overheated we use as a hand held fan.
We are old enough to remember when our mothers did this to us when we were down with the measles or mumps, or chicken pox in hot weather. We also are old enough to remember that our beds were moved to the breeziest window to help keep us cool.
The pool near our old house is fed by a continuous mountain stream and it flows into a creek nearby. It is perfect for taking afternoon dips but does little to cool our house. At one time, possibly over a hundred years ago, the force of the mountain stream was used by one clever entrepreneur to produce enough energy to run a small community grist mill. We are looking into the possibility of converting this wasted energy into a wind mill that will allow us at least a window fan or two. At this stage all we do is talk about it.
We have a cellar that opens from the outside to directly under our living room and was used by the former owners, an old couple, to store potatoes, squash, canned goods. It is delightfully cool down there and we have plans on opening a trap door on an out of the way place in our living room floor to allow the cold air from down there to move upward. But would this work?
Heat flows upward, but cool air would need some kind of push behind it, and this is not available. Yet possibly a better use would be to redo the area as a summer living room. Yet the darkness of the area is prohibitive now. It definitely needs electricity to be used for this purpose. In the meantime, kerosene lamps may be making a comeback at our house.
Overall, what else can we do to keep our house cool? If we were able, we would build an extension into the sloping hillside and connect this room to our existing house. The temperature there would never get beyond the fifties. And the cold air floating in from this cold room would definitely help keep our kitchen cool. These are long range plans. What we are doing now is insulating our house and this is helping keep the cool air in as wells as keeping the hot air out.