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A Forced Day Off

April 19th, 2011

Early Sunday afternoon, Mr Chiots and I were working in the office and suddenly the lights went out. It was a windy day, but it didn’t seem that bad. We figured the lights would come back on shortly but decided to work outside in the mean time. There’s plenty of work to be done since we have to cut up all those trees we had taken down last Wednesday. We worked outside until sunset and the lights never did come back on.

We came inside, pulled out the old oil lamp that my parents gave us and made some hot chocolate (which is simply made by melting chocolate in warm milk). As we sat at the table sipping our hot cocoa we started to talk about how nice it was to not have all the distractions that we usually have. Since we both work from home we never really leave work. You’ll find us working at our desks at 6:30 am and sometimes at midnight as well. We never really mind when the electric goes out because it forces us to take time off from e-mails, blogging, and clients. At least I had already written and scheduled my blog post for the next day, but didn’t have time to proof it as usual – so sorry about the typos yesterday.

While enjoying our relaxing evening we decided that we’re going to have an electric free day once a month. We’ll turn everything off and spend the day away – truly enjoying time away from all the things that seem to dominate our lives. A day of no e-mail, no checking the radar on-line for rain, no googling answers to questions… It should be an interesting experiment, I’ll be sure to let you know when we’re doing it next month and perhaps you can join us!

How often does the electric go off at your house? Have you ever thought of going electric free on certain days?

22 Comments to “A Forced Day Off”
  1. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife on April 19, 2011 at 5:07 am

    The electricity goes off occasionally here – last time it did, I wrote a to-do list of what we need to do to prepare for next time as we weren’t as prepared for it as I thought.

    We too work from home and live on the internet, and sometimes it’s hard to break away. I’ve been very tempted to have scheduled electricity-free evenings after reading about them on Damn The Broccoli’s blog – they seem to have such creative evenings!

    Reply to louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife's comment

  2. Greg on April 19, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Fantastic! We took a month off from electronic entertainment earlier this year and it was not as hard as we thought. We had a lot more time for reading and playing board games and just … conversation! :-) A no-electricity day is even one step further! I presume you’d keep the fridge/freezer plugged in? Or … no? It is funny how much we rely on things that we don’t really need to rely on…

    I look forward to hearing the reports. :-) And, we’ll see if we can try that here … maybe I’ll surprise the kids with it. “Oh man! It would seem that we have no electricity today!!!! No video games.. no TV… no microwave popcorn…” :-)

    (Also, no cooking (electric stove/oven), no laundry, no vacuuming… Mom & Dad might like this ….) :-)

    Reply to Greg's comment

    • Susy on April 19, 2011 at 7:34 am

      Yes, we’ll leave the fridge/freezer plugged in as they would just use up tons of electric when you plug them back in. We will focus on non-chilled food though. And we’ll have to decide what to do about our espresso addiction!

      Get out that broom!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Emily Jenkins on April 19, 2011 at 7:20 am

    DH and I are planning the same for Earth Day this week, and were uncertain of how to proceed with the refrigerator. I guess we’ll have to leave it plugged in, but if we do more than one of these I may pull things out ahead of time and store them in the antique pre-electric ice box I have on the porch and just seal up the fridge for the day. We’ll see… I’d hate to chance ruining food.
    Our other sticky spot is cell phones. I’d likely have to keep mine up and running for the day simply because I provide a lot of emergency care/advice at the horse farm that I run. With my luck that would be the day somebody’s horse colics and dies simply because they can’t get ahold of me for banamine or something. Yeesh.
    Aside from that though, we’re totally with you. We should compare notes and experiences! Great post, Susy. Thanks!

    Reply to Emily Jenkins's comment

    • Susy on April 19, 2011 at 7:32 am

      We’ll probably leave the fridge/freezer plugged in since they’ll just use more power when they get plugged back in. But we’ll focus on eating foods that don’t need to be refrigerated on that day.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Amy on April 19, 2011 at 7:23 am

    That’s really an interesting idea. We’ve only lost power here a few times, and only once when it caused a real problem. It seems, though, that we lose power in winter (when it’s freezing or below) and either on a Sunday evening or a work evening, causing worries about the following work day. (We both work outside the home.) We do have a generator wired into the house but it doesn’t run everything, so it’s either well OR pellet stove. I have a lot to learn. Perhaps choosing to go without a day a month would leave me better prepared for the real thing!

    Reply to Amy's comment

  5. Xan on April 19, 2011 at 7:33 am

    What a good idea. I’m bad enough, but DH cannot bear not to answer email. Definitely proposing this.

    Reply to Xan's comment

  6. Brittany P. on April 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Our lights go off occasionally here but more often when it storms the lights take longer to come back on than in town. We live 15 miles outside of town.
    On weekends I try not to use my computer at all or even turn it on. I don’t want it to become something I feel I need to do everyday (I have to use it Monday-Friday anyway for homeschooling) and I like to use the weekends as family time and not sit in front of this computer. I have been toying with the idea of trying to go without using the lights for a month and see how we do. I have also been experimenting with the thermostat to try to get our electric bill down and I was surprised how much I could go up on the AC or down on the heat and still be comfortable. I don’t want to go completely powerless during this experimental month b/c of the fridge and freezer but I would like to reduce our energy consumption as much as I can. Maybe for Earth Day we could go completely powerless for the day but in the long run we are not prepared to be off-grid for any length of time longer than that. Several months back we decided to have our TV satelite service discontinued and I thought my kids would hate it but they have found other things to play outside. Isn’t that what we used to do when we were kids? Thing is with their growing imaginations, I get less complaints of..”Mom, I’m bored!”..”Mama, there is NOTHING to do.” :)

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  7. Melissa on April 19, 2011 at 8:26 am

    My husband and I both work from home as well. We run a motion graphics design business. He handles all the website work and I do all the designing. It’s great to not have to worry about the call of a 9-5 job! We love being able to take off during the day if we like! What do you do working from home?

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  8. alan on April 19, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Great Idea! The part that I like is the planned part. When the power goes out, that’s usually an emergency. You’r focus becomes surviving, fixing, etc. With a planned outage you can focus on how we can live differently. Those days of experimenting can produce lasting changes in how you live and reduce your long term dependance on outside energy sources. Cant wait to see how it goes for you. We will be discussing giving it a try here at the Roost.

    Reply to alan's comment

  9. Rhonda on April 19, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Since we had a big wind storm a few years ago that left us without power for more than a week, so followed a couple of months later by an ice storm that did the same, I’ve been trying to find ways to do without electricity. It also sparked my interest in becoming more self-sufficient by increasing my garden and putting up my own foods, having a stockpile of supplies to pull from, etc. I’ve been buying backup appliances that run on human power rather than electricity and I really like having them. Right now I’m researching grain mills :-) A hand-powered grain mill will be much quieter than the one I have and besides that, I could use a good workout!

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  10. Misti on April 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Love the oil lamp. My parents used to have several we’d light up when spring thunderstorms came ’round.

    Reply to Misti's comment

  11. Dhern on April 19, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I would love, love, love to do an electricity free day at my house but both my husband and kids are addicted to the stuff, TV especially. :( Oh well. Enjoy your “free” days.

    Reply to Dhern's comment

  12. Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig on April 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

    What a GREAT idea! The powere very rarely goes out here…so when it does, we are LOST. I need an oil lamp…yours is so pretty. We are constantly plugged in….me online, hubby watching sports, boys playing video games or texting…always something to distract.

    I think we may try this…my family will go into withdrawl!

    Reply to Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig's comment

  13. Amy @ Homestead Revival on April 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Susy, I really like this idea. We fasted from TV all summer last year (we watch very little anyway) and will do so this summer, but I’m trying to convince my husband to just eliminate it all together. And a day of zero electronics once in a while? I’d love that! I culture a lot of dairy products and I’ve thought about building some type of small root cellar to see if I could keep cultures going in there should the electricity ever go out, but what a daunting project! I have a book on order from the library to check into this to see if it’s actually something I could do (and it would be great for my veggies during the winter as well).

    Reply to Amy @ Homestead Revival's comment

  14. Marcia on April 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    What a great idea! We sometimes think that a day without electric can only be a nuisance. A few years ago, our electricity gave out on Christmas Eve with a houseful of guests. We pulled out old oil lamps, lit candles (luckily my sister is a Partylite consultant so we have candles galore) and had the most memorable Christmas Eve dinner. We heated the food on my parents old wood-burning stove and played old boardgames by candle light. Everyone present still talks about how magical it was.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  15. Heather on April 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    What a great idea. I love it. I’m not sure my husband will be on board with me. It’s hard enough to stop the grumbles from him when the power goes out but I did manage to get him to enjoy the lights out for an evening a couple weeks ago. Something to work towards!

    Reply to Heather's comment

  16. Daedre Craig on April 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    My electricity rarely goes out. However, it did go out in my neighborhood a couple weeks ago while I had chicks in the brooder. Luckily they were fine.

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  17. Sincerely, Emily on April 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I like the idea of an electric free day. We do not lose power often, but when we first moved here and we lost power I noticed that life is very different without a gas stove and gas water heater. I had relied on that in the past. Now I don’t have that. I try to use less power as much as I can. My husband doesn’t get a lot of time off work to be at home and I think the last thing he would want to hear me say is “no honey, you can’t use the microwave (or you can’t turn on the light).” I will definitely do this one on my own and if he were home more regularly, I know he would do it with me. Thanks for the great idea. I look forward to hearing about your electric free days. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  18. Jennifer on April 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    During these warmer months we try to go camping as often as possible with the intent to unplug 100 percent. No phones, no computers, nothing. If we weren’t expecting company this weekend, I’d be all for experimenting with Emily for Earth Day. We’ll definitely have to give it a go on another day soon!

    Reply to Jennifer's comment

  19. Fawn on April 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Lovely idea. We haven’t had TV for over a year now (in order to cut back on needless distractions) and we haven’t used the AC in 2 months. As you can imagine though, in Louisiana the AC has to come on during the summer! We are definitely attached to the computer and cell phones more than I would like though..I’ll have to talk to the husband and see if he’s in on doing an electricity free day. Maybe we can roast something over the fire pit for our meals.

    Reply to Fawn's comment

  20. Jennifer Fisk on April 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

    We had a major wind storm on Sunday and the power was out from 8am-5:45pm. Certainly being without power gives you a chance to realize how dependent we are. I did manage to use my computer on battery for a number of hours and the WiFi plugged into my Power Dome.
    I labled all my wooden plant sticks which came in very handy during the great repotting marathon yesterday.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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