Let me start out with saying -- NO I don't know of any way to get or hook up illegal electricity! I wouldn't use any ideas on how to do this anyway because of two reasons -- 1. I'm an honest person! and 2. I am scared of electricity! I usually have someone else plug things in for me - even if it's my kids! lol yes I'm THAT scared!
Also I don't understand electricity that well either. I've tried and tried but it just boggles my mind. Oh I know how to run it and basically how it works just not in detail. In fact when I start to TRY to dig into it my brain just starts jumbling up things -- volts, watts, amps, amp-hours, etc., etc.
But what to do when you have no power -- that I can help with! Plus some simple ideas to make use of alternative power in small amounts. These are things in my bag of tricks! :D
1. follow the advice that you can from my living without gas post (here). Alot of these ideas and suggestions work for when your without electricity.
2. if this is going to be longer than a couple days then you should think about changing your living schedule to one that is more in line with what people in the 1800's lived with - go to sleep when it's dark and be awake and do stuff you need to during the day. You'll use less resources this way.
3. while thinking of the 1800's try to educate yourself (or remind yourself of what you've read!) on the way things were accomplished during that time in history when there was no electricity and try to think of what your going to need to implement in your life now. cooking, washing clothes, and entertainment are three areas that come to mind.
4. although this is fourth down on this list, honestly it will probably be the first on your mind -- LIGHT! In fact lets start the detail portion of this post with this topic.
I'm not only scared of electricity, but also scared of the dark. Honest! I can't sleep without a night light - sometimes I even have to have the ceiling light on. So when the power flickers here, the first thing I do is light a candle. I have candles in my room by my bed, in the bathroom with a lighter even - near the toilet, on my desk, in the kitchen.... it goes on and on. Light is the most important thing to me when I think about electricity.
Having candles around are a great idea, but you should always use caution when you are not going to be in the room and if you have pets or kids. Candles should always be on something heat safe, wicks trimmed to a safe height, and placed in a safe area (check above!). Never try walking with a candle - trust me it's not worth it lol Wax gets all over the place when it drips or if you trip and drop the candle. Plus they tend to flicker or go out when walking with them making the whole reason your walking with them pointless.
A tip for using candles - placement depending on the type of candle will help spread the illumination to a larger area, or make it brighter. Sometimes placing a candle on a coffee table in a central location will really light up a room. Using mirrors really helps spread the light, so don't using aluminum foil to direct the light.
For temporary use you can use outdoor solar lights, glow sticks or flash lights. But unless you have rechargeable batteries with either a solar panel battery charger or a battery charger that will work in a car (& a car!) these are not long term options. Plus they aren't good options for a whole room. I can say without a doubt these are probably your safest options and are good to have for kids to make use of. Outdoor solar lights are high inadequate for providing significant light for routine use.
Your best long term item for light is a oil lamp. A good sturdy camping oil lamp with a hanger is your best long term source of light. The lamp should cost less than $10 and the oil less than $5 - both can be bought at Walmart. (lamp in camping section, oil near the candles) One jug of oil should last a week at least - I've not timed it. You can walk with an oil lamp without worries as long as you pay attention! but no flickering - not even outside! I've had my oil lamp for over 8 years and the only maintenance I've had to do is trim the wick from time to time and clean the glass. Cleaning the glass is quick and easy with some rubbing alcohol and toilet paper. The only other thing you need for an oil lamp is a funnel -- makes filling it much easier. While using a oil lamp if you put a plant hanger bracket or shelf bracket on the wall then you can easily hang the lamp to light up a whole room without worrying that it's going to fall over. Shelf brackets that look like this are best -
One last idea that is really cheap for light -- vegetable oil lamp/candles. Now I don't know how else you can do this without buying some items online first but this is THE cheapest way to have light. I've tried 2 types that look like those pictured below -
Now that we've covered light now to the easy parts =) Unless you get a generator, everything else in your house that needs electricity is out of commission, sadly. You can try putting into use solar panels & a battery system - don't get me wrong you'll be able to run some things - mostly though your going to find it's inadequate for most things you need to power in your house beyond some entertainment items (computer, laptop, tv, ps3, etc).
If you want to try thinking of some things to use with a solar panel system or even just to power within your car then think of just that - items you can charge in your car lighter plugs or with a lighter to usb plug. If you keep that in mind you'll see there IS potential but it IS limited. But for about $400 you can create a simple solar panel system with a panel, charge controller, marine battery, and some car lighter plugs. We created a simple system like this minus the marine battery - we use a big car battery - and plus a 8 foot string of led party lights (like you can install in a car) and are able to power the lights for at least 5 hours every night and it's not set up to really maximize the power the way it should be. I'm positive there is more we can do with our system but we've just not messed with it. One thing I do have set aside if we ever have to depend on this system is some usb powered fans because I sure don't want to be sweaty if the power is out during the summer!
You'll have to figure out an alternative to cooking which I covered quite a few in my living without gas post. Beyond that the biggest problem will be trying to live without a refrigerator. Your best bet is to buy or borrow a really good cooler and then buy some ice if it's in the warmer seasons.