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Too Dependent on Electricity

2010 February 12

Inspired by my friend and colleague’s blog post, Snowed Under in our Green House, I decided to focus this blog on the main event of the larger Washington metropolitan area this week—the massive snowstorms and blizzards. Due to the inclement weather, the area was virtually paralyzed for days. Many schools systems, businesses, and government agencies remain closed.

While we were snowed in at home, the power went off intermittently. One day we were without power for a span of 15 hours! During that long stretch without electricity, we had no heat and, of course, no functioning appliances. Our only lifeline to the outside world was a battery-operated radio. I must note that thanks to the green repairs we made to our home last year, the temperature in the house stayed relatively stable even without heat during that blackout. While it did cool down after 12 hours without power, it was nothing that an extra layer of clothing couldn’t handle.

While we were snowed in, I realized how dependent we have become on electricity for home entertainment. We take for granted the fact that we cannot use our television sets, computers, the Internet, electronic toys, rechargeable batteries, wireless technology without electricity. As a family we rediscovered some traditional forms of entertainment like board games to pass the time. My youngest even read several books on her own initiative. Not a bad lesson during the blizzard of 2010.

Nonetheless, I would like to leave you with some advice for future snow and ice storms. Try to have the necessary supplies well in advance so you don’t have to venture out unnecessarily during inclement weather. Use generators and other combustion appliances wisely. Stay safe.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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24 Responses leave one →
  1. ED GILSON permalink
    February 12, 2010

    Was curious as to whether you installed radiant barrier in attic and crawl spaces to keep heat in ..in winter and heat our…in summer.
    ED

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    February 12, 2010

    Mom,
    Histories told to us that mankind, especially West civilization, always solve and after that making the way out of all our problems. Basically Cries baby sign to universe that they are will meet something: taste, happy, suffer and challenge. Your culture is better than the others. Save your babies, and suffering will be lost from this planets….!!!!

  3. ladislau permalink
    February 12, 2010

    Not only in US also here in Europe in some regions was great problems because of heavy snow with Electricity..

  4. Al Bannet permalink
    February 13, 2010

    We can do online research into the pre-electrical technology used in the 1800s. There is nothing to stop any home owner from voluntarily reverting to that way of life today, and some are, or we could simply maintain the equipment as a backup in case the powere goes out again. People did fairly well before electrical power was invented, more work of course.

  5. Lina-EPA permalink
    February 14, 2010

    Al,
    I was not proposing going to the 1800s. I applaud he technological advances which have been enabled by electricity. But I did notice that without electricity we initially seemed “lost”. We take so many things for granted. Especially children, without their electronic gadgets, have to rediscover traditional forms of entertainment including reading and a good book. That was my point.

  6. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    February 15, 2010

    We have become dependent on electricity. It is all the more reason to move away from coal fired power plants and nuclear power plants to much safer and much more environmentally sensitive means of power generation like solar and wind power. That would also make us less dependent on oil to run power plants as well. The option of portable space heaters is a dangerous one because people are more interested in keeping warm than in following directions on the heaters and every year there are a number of deaths that are the reult ofmissuse of these heaters. A problem we have in California relating to increased use of portable heaters is the greatest number of residential disconnections by gas and electric companies since the depression years of the 1930s. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  7. Al Bannet permalink
    February 16, 2010

    Yes, and I agree. I depend on electricity as much as most people and it’s wonderful. But if there was a power outage lasting more than a day or two, people would benefir knowing how to maintain their homes with pre-electricity technology. For example, I keep two oil lamps ready for such a contingency. I’ve never had to use them and I hope I never have to, but they are there just in case.

  8. lyounes permalink*
    February 16, 2010

    Definitely necessary to have alternatives as a contingency plan, but they have to be safe. Misuse of generators and combustion devices can lead to unintended consequences.

  9. lyounes permalink*
    February 16, 2010

    As I’ve mentioned before, misuse of these area heaters can lead to toxic and even lethel consequences. Need to be careful and safe. Thanks for your comments. Keep them coming.

  10. Linda permalink
    February 16, 2010

    Down here in hurricane country (tornadoes, too) we lose electricity with distressing regularity. In my town, the worst in recent years was hurricane Ivan; we were completely without electricity for 5 days. So long as we had light (propane lantern, candles, and oil lamps) we could read and we were fine. Doing without TV really wasn’t a burden. We do have a crank-operated radio, but there wasn’t anything on but storm coverage … which wasn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know. What got difficult was the lack of air conditioning. It might have been mid-September, but it was still miserably hot and with no way to move air through the house, it soon became oppressively hot and humid. Those days, it was a relief to take a cold shower and head in to work, where the power was on.

  11. lyounes permalink*
    February 16, 2010

    Linda,
    Good comments. At least during the warm months, it’s easy to get out of the house. During the bitter cold, things get complicated with that cabin fever……

  12. Al Bannet permalink
    February 17, 2010

    Standard practice. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. sam permalink
    April 28, 2010

    very useful information. This reminds everyone to always be on guard duty in case of bad possibilities. we often realize when a problem has come. thanks

  14. L. Snickerman permalink
    July 29, 2010

    I enjoyed reading your snow story. For my region, snow is not that big of a problem. So it is hard for me to comprehend being “snowed in!” I am glad that your new green changes helped during the 15 hours without electricity.

    —-
    L. Snickerman

  15. dinariraqiedu permalink
    July 30, 2010

    This is wonderful article.I like this show, i recommend to other for like this.

  16. iraqidinar gov permalink
    August 1, 2010

    I have liked your thoughts, I am going to subscribe your blog and will come here again
    to know more. thanks,
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  17. Vietnamese dong permalink
    September 23, 2010

    I have liked your thoughts on -Too Dependent on Electricity”-, I am going to subscribe your article/explain and will come here again
    to know more. thanks,

  18. Sven Sjostrom permalink
    September 24, 2010

    As we move through time past the industrial revolution through to the end of the century responsible for the technology revolution. We may not realize how significant and precarious our current living conditions are placed. People born this century inevitably will have no idea that the society they are born into is living on a knife edge with regards to their basic needs. Electricity, food, shelter, water. One meteorite or solar flare and this could be gone in a flash….but people would still survive without emergency preparedness skills so this where they will suffer. If we start by not taking these things for granted and monitoring our electricity usage to understand what we do and do not need this would be a start. We the care takers need to impart information to our younger generations to prepare them and make our planet a better place.

    What do u think about that

    Sven

  19. Centre recyclage permalink
    October 9, 2010

    This emergency power planning checklist is for people who use electricity and battery dependent assistive technology and medical devices.

  20. Boiler permalink
    October 20, 2010

    Our lifestyles have changed and still continue to change each time a new invention is created. Among the most inflential are wheels, light bulbs, telephones, transportation vehicles, refrigerators, radios, televisions, plastics, and computers. The initial purpose of these inventions were to make work easier to do, be able to see in the dark with electricity, communicate more efficiently and quickly, and move all across the world at a faster pace. For Hurricane Ike, most people were able to prepare themselves before hand for a several day period without electrical power because of news updates from televisions, computers, and radios.

  21. Boiler permalink
    October 28, 2010

    This information for health practitioners outlines the high-level aspects of the process of identifying medically dependent domestic electricity consumers.

  22. Water Treatment permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Nowadays, there is no place with electricity doesn’t have computers which is necessary for workers, scientists and students .Therefore, people depend on computers which they do everything necessary or unnecessary.

  23. Zetaclear permalink
    November 16, 2010

    Nowadays, there is no place with electricity doesn’t have computers which is necessary for workers, scientists and students .Therefore, people depend on computers which they do everything necessary or unnecessary. Computers users ignore risks and problems of using this electronic machine. Computers threat human health’s which affect on eyes, brain and macules and more .it’s not only threat human bodies but also destroys relations and makes people so lazy.

  24. Asvaltirani permalink
    December 2, 2010

    It’s always interesting to see a text regarding blizzards and power shortages. Always reminds me of how all of us are getting a bit mellow. A decade ago, my own country had a problem with electricity shortages, and remaining with no power for a whole day was something unpleasant, but definitely not the end of the world. Today though, so many hours with no internet would seem as an outrage. Recently it happened as a sort of a surprise (i was in a club Pergame playing a board game, and yeah, the name is a bit meaningless in my language, too), and had to stop gaming due to the lack of light. Ten years ago, it would have been a normal thing to have a candle nearby, and keep on doing whatever you were doing, like nothing happened.

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