Anyone live without electricity??? - Mothering Forums
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Frugality & Finances > Anyone live without electricity???
baileyandmikey's Avatar baileyandmikey 09:33 PM 11-29-2008
So, I don't have a job... and dh's hours haven't been enough to cover the bills. WE are going to have our electricty turned off in a few weeks. I have gone to several churches, no one has funds until the beggining of the year, and we have gotten help at the job and family services once this year already.... so there is no help. No family to borrow from either : So, can we live without electricity??? I have two kids with asthma, and we heat with heating oil ( which is again another money issue). But, if we put up blankets and try to shut up the house, we have one fire place in the family room. Is it possible to stay warm : and still live with out electricity??? It is plenty cold outside to keep food in a cooler, and I suppose the ice will last a while. So, does any one else live with out electricity? Is it a possibility??? Ds and I are home all day, and dd will be when school break happens.... but... do we have a chance or not?

dubfam's Avatar dubfam 10:19 PM 11-29-2008


I don't think your furnace will work because it takes electric as well as oil I'm sure.

Are you positive that you have checked with EVERY place that might be able to help? I know in my city it can be hard to find all the agencies.
Garden~Lover's Avatar Garden~Lover 10:20 PM 11-29-2008
I would check with your electric company, here anyone with kids 1 and under can not have their electricity turned off.

sorry I think I misunderstood your siggy.
lolar2's Avatar lolar2 10:30 PM 11-29-2008
How long exactly is "a few weeks"?

I assume you called your electric company already-- what did they say? Ours will give an extension for a reasonable amount of time. If the charities, as you say, will be able to give you funds at the beginning of the year-- let's say January 5, is that about right?-- and the electricity is supposed to be turned off in three weeks, which would be December 20, that's only a 2-and-a-half-week gap. You may be able to get an extension from the company until the charitable funds kick in, especially if you are able to put a little down.

ETA if it doesn't work out, I would try to stay with family or friends for at least part of the gap period. Maybe someone from your DH's work? It might be bearable, and they might be willing since it's temporary.
lolar2's Avatar lolar2 10:32 PM 11-29-2008
If NOTHING else works, those in the Country Living/ Off-the-Grid subforum might have ideas for how to handle your one-room living idea.
Belleweather's Avatar Belleweather 10:41 PM 11-29-2008
Um. In most states where it gets actually cold it is illegal to turn someone's heat off between November and April.

Secondly, heating your house without electricity is hard. Your furnace likely requires it. Using your fireplace is an option, but you've got to be very aware of carbon monoxide. Using anything else (ie. white gas or propane) in a small enclosed area can kill you.

Thirdly, this is the sort of thing that invites CPS scrutiny. Just something to be aware of -- I know you say you've checked everywhere and done everything, but you might want to double check, since you're walking into emergency endagerment territory.
missmich's Avatar missmich 10:54 PM 11-29-2008
I know it's against the law here to shut it off in the Winter. Also if you have young children or sick people in the home. Does the electric company know that your child has ahstma? I'd tell them that and see what they can do to help you.
gurumama's Avatar gurumama 11:04 PM 11-29-2008
You're pregnant and have small children in the home. Isn't it illegal (as others have said) for your electric to be turned off in the winter?

Our electric company has an assistance program on their website. Check your electric company's website and call.
CarrieMF's Avatar CarrieMF 11:07 PM 11-29-2008
yes find out if they can legally turn it off. Being that you're in Ohio I'm doubting it's legal. They can tell you they'll turn it off to try & get you to make a payment but they probably can't actually do it. Come March(or whenever the cut off date is) it'll be shut off if you don't make payments.

Can you pay anything on it, even if it's 1/4 of what the actual bill is?
baileyandmikey's Avatar baileyandmikey 11:10 PM 11-29-2008
Well, I don't think it is illegal.... we do have a fireplace, therefore a source of heat. Obviously they will disconnect us on Dec. 17 th if we can't pay. I promise, I have checked every charity in town.... but I am going to keep looking. We would probably find somewhere to go when we can, but that isn't an option every day. Ugh.... anyways... I was just asking if any of you have done it. It can't be THAT bad, we have a grill outside we can cook on, the fireplace to heat with, candles for light... people USED to live this way
Drummer's Wife's Avatar Drummer's Wife 11:18 PM 11-29-2008
I agree that it's probably illegal since you have small children and live in a state that actually gets cold in the winter. I assume you already went the HEAP route and can't get any more assistance this year? Definitely contact your children's ped if you have one and/or their health insurance program, especially if it's medicaid they should be able to issue you a letter to pass on to your electric/gas company.

I also agree about the possibility of CPS contacting you. All it will take is your older child mentioning it to their teacher or another student at school and red flags go up.

No way would I be able to live for more than 24 hrs without heat/electricity, especially with small children. For us, that would also equal no water since we have an electric powered well pump.

Either work out a payment plan with the power company (when I lived in colorado they would divide the outstanding balance over ten months) contact the emergency dept for HEAP again if you already have, find out the laws for your state, ask your ped (especially since you have a child with health concerns) and if necessary, I agree with finding someone else to stay with.
mtm's Avatar mtm 11:53 PM 11-29-2008
http://www.winterheat.ohio.gov/assistance.html

Maybe something here can help you, looks like they shoukdn't be able to turn you off but companies may still try.
captain crunchy 11:58 PM 11-29-2008
Okay so you said in your first post that no one has funds until the beginning of the year --- do you think you would only have to live without electricity until then? So, say December 17th until say, Jan 10th or something? So that would be about a month.

I think if there is no possible way at all to avoid this -- no one to stay with, no option whatsoever -- it can be done. Do you have a source of wood for your fireplace? Is your chimney clean? You have to make sure that the *bad* part of combustion is escaping -- you just want the heat, not the gases. People have been heating with fireplaces for hundreds and hundreds of years. Do you have a carbon monoxide detector? Move it to your family room - this will help you feel more secure. If not, I would scrape together *something* to get one for your piece of mind and safety. I think fire departments give them away for free -- you don't have to reveal the details of why.

Move the bed to the family room -- or a mattress. CPS is a concern but we are living in really tough times -- so I would make the family room appear as much like a studio apartment as possible -- keep it clean as possible -- even move a dresser in there too with some of your clothing so that you can get dressed and such near the fire. How will you do laundry? Do you take it someplace now? People do laundry by hand even now but that may be too much for you, being pregnant and whatnot. I would just try to create as few dirty clothes as possible.

Can you heat water on your fireplace? I would have a big bowl to pour warm water in for quick cleanings because you won't be able to take baths and such -- The kids could probably bathe in a big rubbermaid or something near the fire. An alternative would be to heat big pots on your grill if you can and keep it wrapped in a blanket with the lid on to retain heat while inside. It is possible to stay clean by spot-washing (they do it for the infirm and such in nursing homes, you just have to be very conscientious). The thing is, if you were to be scrutinized by CPS for any reason -- you want to make sure the children are always clean (even cleaner than most people do now to overcompensate for your unique situation) -- that the family room doesn't appear like a squat but as a studio apartment how many families did in winters.

Food -- eat as many shelf stable things as possible so you don't have to worry about cooking and cooling -- peanut butter, bread, canned veggies -- things of that nature -- fresh foods can be kept in colder parts of the house (like raw veggies and such).

If you can, take advantage of heat elsewhere -- the library, malls, things like that. You can spend a ton of time in a bookstore for example.

Tape plastic over the windows in the family room and hang blankets over that to keep heat inside -- close off the entry to the family room if you can. Again, it is important to appear that this is all very intentional (even if it isn't sadly).

I think if there is seriously no option, you could do it. I am just very sorry you are facing this -- but like most things I do believe if you set out to thrive in spite of this, you can -- especially if you know it is only temporary.

Good luck mama -- and honestly, the FIRST thing would be to make sure the chimney is clean, make sure you have clean wood to burn, and GET THAT CARBON MONOXIDE detector.

Sadly, this is becoming more common in this economy
StormySar's Avatar StormySar 12:13 AM 11-30-2008
What will you do without a fridge or freezer? Do you have the money at this point to stock up on canned goods? There isn't any guarantee that outside temps will stay cool enough to keep food good, and changing temps can make foods spoil quicker. It's also hard to rely on temps outside to keep anything frozen for long, so be sure to keep your food source a consideration. You mention using the grill to cook, but does it need propane? Do you have enouhg to last a whole month of cooking, and if so where is your food source for the grill? Will you be buying fresh meat every few days? Do you have a place to store the food you already have in your fridge and freezer so you don't waste everything?

If you are going to rely on flash lights and whatnot for light, be sure to have extra batteries and lightbulbs.

As pp's have mentioned, I'd exhaust every possible option. erhaps see if your famiyl could chip in some $$ this year for you instead of buying gifts for you and the kids, explain the situation and maybe your family can go in on getting you enough to keep the power from being turned off.

Perhaps return any Christmas gifts you may have bought, your kids will probably appreciate having heat and electricity come Christmas. I know the idea really bites, but you have to do what you have to do.

What will you do about heated water for baths?
Tradd's Avatar Tradd 12:30 AM 11-30-2008
Please make sure your fireplace is able to stand a big roaring fire. I've heard this recently on a home improvement radio talk show. Many fireplaces are only meant for wee little fires for "atmosphere," not big roaring fires to keep warm by. A too big/too hot fire could cause damage to the firebox or the chimney.
CarrieMF's Avatar CarrieMF 12:31 AM 11-30-2008
Quote:
Well, I don't think it is illegal.... we do have a fireplace, therefore a source of heat.
Heat is not the only reason why they can't turn the electricity off.

What does your water heater run on?

A fireplace will NOT heat a house enough to keep pipes from freezing.

Yes people used to live with no heat but alot of people died because of it. They also had wood stoves which provide more heat than a fireplace does.

how far behind in payments are you? If you aren't actually late yet call them & arrange a payment plan.

This is from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

Quote:
If a member of your household has a medical condition where the disconnection of electric service would be especially dangerous to health, you may be eligible for a medical certification which would retain or restore service for a period of 30 days. Medical certifications may only be used three times per household in a 12-month period, and must be completed by a certified health care professional.
Quote:
Electric companies can disconnect service for nonpayment year-round, including during the winter months. From Nov. 1 through April 15, electric companies must give you an additional 10-day notice before disconnecting your service.
It looks like they can disconnect, however the 10 days is in addition to the 14 days after you're late on payment so you have 24 days after you're late to pay. If you can get the medical thing listed above that's an additional 30 days-90 days.
lolar2's Avatar lolar2 12:34 AM 11-30-2008
I would think the asthma and pregnancy would qualify.
Fuamami's Avatar Fuamami 12:56 AM 11-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post
Heat is not the only reason why they can't turn the electricity off.

What does your water heater run on?

A fireplace will NOT heat a house enough to keep pipes from freezing.

Yes people used to live with no heat but alot of people died because of it. They also had wood stoves which provide more heat than a fireplace does.

how far behind in payments are you? If you aren't actually late yet call them & arrange a payment plan.

This is from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio





It looks like they can disconnect, however the 10 days is in addition to the 14 days after you're late on payment so you have 24 days after you're late to pay. If you can get the medical thing listed above that's an additional 30 days-90 days.
Yes, I think it's highly likely your pipes will freeze. And a fireplace is not really a good way to heat your house - it's way different from a woodstove. They're very inefficient and mostly for decoration/ambience.

Modern houses are built to be heated. What if you just paid them a little bit? Could they turn it off then? Do you have a credit card you can pay the bill with?
camprunner's Avatar camprunner 01:20 AM 11-30-2008
OP says:
  • The Family Can live in one room for a source of heat
  • They can cook on the gril
  • They will have lighting

I don't see a problem with this providing that your kids can sleep in a room that is over 62 degrees. Currently our night time temperatures are 62. I bundle the kids up at night. Everyone has heavy blankets and comforters on their beds. After we get used to it, it isn't that bad.

For the cold:
1. Make sure that everyone has a nice hat (note the night caps that you see on old movies )
2. See if you can round up some wool socks for everyone (much warmer than cotton!)
3. Have everyone wear layers that they can take off. Sweaters over T-shirts and turtle necks are great.
4. Take precautions not to sweat because this will make you colder in the long run.

Refrigeration:
1. A cooler may help if the weather starts to get a little warm.
2. Some people dig holes in a hill to keep their food cold and others actually put a container in a nearby stream full of food they need to keep cold.
3. You purchase items in smaller amounts (have dh do the grocery shopping on the way one from work once a week) so you are worried about large amounts spoiling.
4. If you have a basement it would be a good place for some food.

Honestly, I have gone camping when it snowed before with my parents ( I was 14 so older but still....). Another time it snowed A LOT. The electricity was out for a week and we slept in the dining room of our house with the air from the wood stove which only entered into the dining room through one big vent (very poor house set up if you ask me..) We survived.

As for a water source....what kind of water do you have? Well water would be difficult but if you are in town....you obviously will not be depending on electricity.

I think it is definitely doable. One thing you might want to consider is leaving it on but not using it unless you absolutely have to. You can even cut it off at the main switch to make sure that you don't use it. You pay a very small fee every month and avoid a huge fee for when you get it cut back on.

One thing that I would be worried about is the asthma. We currently run central air partially as an air filter for myself. It is difficult to breath in a house with a wood stove (not even a fire place). Cold weather can also cause an attack though now that I'm older it is easier to breath in cold that hot weather.

Check out http://www.pathtofreedom.com they do have a wood stove but they light with candles.
camprunner's Avatar camprunner 01:25 AM 11-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post
Yes, I think it's highly likely your pipes will freeze. And a fireplace is not really a good way to heat your house - it's way different from a woodstove. They're very inefficient and mostly for decoration/ambience.

Modern houses are built to be heated. What if you just paid them a little bit? Could they turn it off then? Do you have a credit card you can pay the bill with?
The pipes will freeze when the house temperature is below 33. And that is the particular part of the house where the pipes are. Just because the family room is above 33 doesn't mean the bathrooms are.
1growingsprout's Avatar 1growingsprout 03:00 AM 11-30-2008
DO you have a free standing home or an apt/condo type thing?
Have you applied to modestneeds.org and holiday helper?

Have you asked at your childs school for assistance. While it maybe be humbling schools have resources to help families in need.

IMO adults living w. out power is one thing, children w/out power in the winter takes it to a whole 'nother level.

You need to think about what the neighbors are going to say when your house is black at 6pm and everyone else has lights on. That is going to raise some huge flags...

Im not saying you cant live w. out power, but you need to be prepared for the CPS issue.
polyhymnia's Avatar polyhymnia 03:02 AM 11-30-2008
People used to live without power, but they were prepared for it in houses and environments where that worked.

Around here 2 years ago there was a big storm just before Christmas and there were some places without power for over a week and it was really bad. people struggled, A LOT. People died too, a lot from carbon monoxide.

I hope you can find a way to manage. Just please be careful.
bonbon mama's Avatar bonbon mama 03:33 AM 11-30-2008
I know that you can drain pipes but I do not know how to do it.

You could try to insulate pipes that you want to still be able to use; the water in the pipes could stay in the 40s if it is possible to limit the pipes exposure to the freezing air. The water enters your home pretty close to 50 in Ohio; you would get frozen pipes when the cold air cools the water in the pipes.

I'd call your natural gas provider and your electric provider and ask them for ideas to keep your heat on. I'd also call your local councilperson or city hall and ask them for advice.
Treasuremapper's Avatar Treasuremapper 03:38 AM 11-30-2008
I agree. Call your elected representatives. Have you already checked Modest Needs?
mrscompgeek's Avatar mrscompgeek 12:07 PM 11-30-2008
Can you maybe cut out some other bills that arent as important for now? Like do you have Internet or Satellite or Phone?? Maybe you could cut out those for a month of so until you get back on top of things?
Also, I have to agree with OP's when they say that your risking the chance of pipes freezing and busting which will cause you to end up spending more money repairing those in months to follow. KWIM?
Another thought is if your child with Asthma or you being pregnant would get really sick from being without electricity and end up in the hospital are you prepared to pay that? In the long run you may be better off to try to find the money for the electricity right now.
CarrieMF's Avatar CarrieMF 04:49 PM 11-30-2008
Quote:
I don't see a problem with this providing that your kids can sleep in a room that is over 62 degrees.
We sleep at 59degrees in our house, our daytime temp in our house is only 64.

to the OP, is it cold enough to place food outside? I'm quite a bit north of Ohio & we're having an unseasonably warm late fall & there's no way it'd be cold enough outside for food or anything. We don't have any snow yet either.
primjillie's Avatar primjillie 05:28 PM 11-30-2008
Isn't there any way to make some money? A part time job? A lot of companies hire Christmas help even with this ecomony. Selling items through Craiglist or a yard sale? Pawning jewelry? I think I would seriously work at making some extra money to pay this bill. Do you rent or buy? Can you defer your house payment/rent for a month?
A&A's Avatar A&A 06:36 PM 11-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belleweather View Post
Um. In most states where it gets actually cold it is illegal to turn someone's heat off between November and April.
It depends on the state.

Here (in Utah) people can donate extra money on their bill to help cover other people who can't pay the bill. So check with your electric company to see if they have a similar program.
gurumama's Avatar gurumama 06:36 PM 11-30-2008
Cold air can trigger asthma.

Particles and smoke from fireplace fires can trigger asthma as well.

Your pipes may burst. if you're a renter, you're then legally liable for the repair costs, could be evicted and then sued for the repair costs. If you're an owner, of course, you are responsble to yourself.

Here's the Ohio public utilities assistance page: https://www.puc.state.oh.us/PUCO/Con...on.cfm?id=4062
A&A's Avatar A&A 06:38 PM 11-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
Please make sure your fireplace is able to stand a big roaring fire. I've heard this recently on a home improvement radio talk show. Many fireplaces are only meant for wee little fires for "atmosphere," not big roaring fires to keep warm by. A too big/too hot fire could cause damage to the firebox or the chimney.
And can cause carbon monoxide if it's not vented properly.
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