De-Stress and Save Electricity With A “Blackout Night”

by heather

Last week, the electricity went out at my house due to high winds. It went off at 10:00 a.m., and stayed off until 11:00 p.m. At first, it was a bit disconcerting. I kept flicking on the light switch out of habit, or heading to the microwave to make a cup of tea, only to remember that the house had no juice.

After a while, though, having no electricity became incredibly liberating. I went out to lunch, and then that evening lit candles and played games. It was relaxing, fun, and far more interesting than a night with electricity.

Because we had so much fun during our “blackout night”, my little family decided to make it a weekly event. And, we’re not the only ones doing this. I’ve stumbled across several other bloggers who are doing the same thing, making “blackout nights” a regular event.

According to the International Energy Agency, over 1.6 billion people in this world live without electricity. I think living without electricity for one night would do a lot of us a lot of good.

Why Blackout Nights Are So Fun

Think about what you do in the evening right now. You might watch TV, surf the Internet, do laundry, finish up some work you didn’t get done during the day…almost everything probably involves electricity.

Without it, however, you’re forced to do other things. Things that require you to slow down. Like read. Play games. Watch the candle light. Talk with your partner, spouse, kids, or dogs. Meditate.

In short, no electricity means that for one night, you’re forced to live a simpler life. And in today’s hectic, non-stop, information overload world, that can be a slice of heaven each week.

Blackout Night Strategies

Tonight is actually our first Blackout Night. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the lights are going off and they’re not going back on until Friday morning. I’m actually really looking forward to it! No Internet, no TV, no movies, no laundry…just us.

So, wondering what you could do with your time if you decide to have your own weekly Blackout Night? Here’s a list of suggestions:

  • Drink a glass of wine and talk with your partner or spouse
  • Play board games with your family
  • Make a fire in your fireplace or woodstove and roast marshmallows or make S’Mores
  • Write someone a letter (yes, a real letter!) under candlelight
  • Invite friends over for your Blackout Night to play cards
  • Go for a walk and look at the stars
  • Read a book to your family
  • Make beeswax candles
  • Declutter your house by candlelight, and make a huge donation pile
  • Cook outside on your grill
  • Create a “Vision Board” from old magazines (a Vision Board is a collage of images of things you’d like to have or accomplish in your life)
  • Spend some time thinking about your dreams, and how you might go about accomplishing some of them in the days, weeks, or years to come
  • Cozy up with your honey
  • Make tea and sit out on your front porch
  • Make a bonfire outside
  • Construct a tree swing for your yard
  • Play with your kids by candlelight
  • Open up your phone book, randomly pick an address, and write someone an anonymous letter that would cheer them up
  • Write a letter to someone who really made a difference in your life; tell them what they did, and thank them for it
  • Do origami
  • Make a time capsule with your kids and hide it in your house for the next generation to find
  • Put together a puzzle (you might need a lot of candles for this one!)
  • Meditate
  • Workout at home
  • Take a candlelit bath
  • Have a pillow fight with your family or friends
  • Play chess
  • When it’s warm out, have a water ballon fight outside
  • Construct a house out of Legos with your kids
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Play musical instruments

What I’ll Be Doing For My First Blackout Night

I haven’t decided for sure. I’ve been dreaming about it all morning. Wine is definitely on the to-do list. And, copious amounts of candles. I have a wind-up crank radio that I can use to listen to NPR, and I’ll probably spend a fair amount of time talking to Andrew about the shipping container home we’re in the process of designing.

I think it’s going to be fabulous!

I’ve also partnered up with fellow green blogger, The Barefoot Badger, on this project. She and her partner are, ironically, having their first blackout night tonight as well, so we’re combining our ideas in this, and future, updates, to share with readers about how it’s going. So, stay tuned for more updates on our Blackout Night Project!

Further Resources

  • EarthHour.org– AT 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2009, the World Wildlife Federation is urging everyone around the world to turn off their lights for one hour to make a statement about climate change. You can sign up by clicking on the link; this is a great way to not only help reduce your energy use, but also educate your friends and family about what they can do to help.

Spread The Love…

If you happen to love this idea, then see if you can get others involved in this movement. Voluntary Blackout Nights not only reduce our carbon footprint because we use less energy, they also allow us to de-stress and go back to a simpler way of life for one night out of the week.

See if you can start a street-wide Blackout Night in your neighborhood. Especially when the weather is warm, this could be great fun. Everyone could cook out, and the kids could play in the streets. Or, attend your next city council meeting and see if your town could jump on board with the idea. Obviously businesses couldn’t participate, but they could spread the word and get local residents involved.

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March 12, 2009 at 10:46 am
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi March 13, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I’d like to respectfully veto the water balloon idea – the popped balloons, if they make it to the trash, are inevitably never going to decompose. Assuming they don’t, it ends up as litter, a turtle or bird-choking hazard, or just an eye sore.

Otherwise, way to rock a blackout post!

heather March 13, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Heidi,

That’s an excellent point; thanks for bringing it up!

Sara James March 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm

WHAT A GREAT GREAT GREAT idea! I’m all over it! Starting Wednesday, we are going blackout night, once a week! 🙂

Leanne August 28, 2009 at 9:54 am

Great post Heather. I noticed your comment on Facebook for Planet Green. Although my husband and I are living off the grid, we have talked of having one day without the use of our generator. Thanks for the inspiration, we will start soon.

Be well.

heather August 29, 2009 at 6:07 am

Leanne,

That’s so cool that you’re living off the grid! My husband and I dream of doing that. We’re planning on building a home using recycled shipping containers, and our hope is that we’ll be able to swing doing off grid as well.

Have you heard of Home Power Magazine? http://www.homepower.com/home/

It’s focuses solely on renewable energy, living off grid, etc. It’s fantastic, and it’s the only magazine I get! You might find some tips there on living without the generator.

Good luck!

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