September 2, 2015

living without........ gas (natural or propane)

Sometimes your stuck living without. Regardless of whether it's your choice or a decision thrust upon you by a utility company - living without gas can be difficult.

Honestly living without gas can be a difficult thing if your house needs it for cooking or heating water and almost impossible if it's your only source of heat and it's winter time where you live. But I can tell you that it's not a lost cause - you can do it!

First as with any utility, you should make sure that your gas is truly unavailable. Call the gas company and check to see if your shut off. While you have them on the phone ask (beg if necessary!) if you can in anyway be turned back on or what do you need to do to get turned back on -- maybe if you enter in a payment plan or pay a portion of your bill they will reinstate services. You can also ask if there are any agencies that will help with payment of disconnected customers accounts.
       *** I do not believe in lying to anyone about anything BUT in some cases it may be necessary to expand upon some of your less desirable circumstances that may force others to feel pity upon you. Sometimes it helps so people know your just struggling but trying to do the right things. Struggling but staying silent isn't always the best for your well being.***

Most utility companies have a program where they help people who are on hard times. Sometimes they solicit money from current customers on the bills they send out and call it something like Neighbors helping Neighbors, etc. Other places to look for help are: community service centers (sometimes they are for the whole county), look on the internet for where to file a LIHEAP application (this is a federal utility grant issued to each state), your local Salvation Army, and also you may be able to find help at your church. About church help - some people when desperate or without scruples will go around and ask all the churches in the phone book for any assistance they can provide. I'm not saying that it's wrong, just that it may not be what you want to do. The church you belong to or regularly visit will be more apt to help as they know you personally. You may want to stress that you'd rather not the whole congregation know if you want to keep this private.

But beyond all the advice above - cause maybe you have tried all those options or just refuse to try them - here's some other tips.

1. check out my page on living without hot water
2. if it's winter time where you live then your first priority should be finding an alternative heat source.
3. if gas is the energy mode for your stove then next you need to brainstorm some alternative ideas for cooking.

Alternatives for gas heat:
     the first option is the quickest and easiest -- electric space heaters. make sure you put them in an area that is not a well trafficked area and out of the way of little fingers. Putting them on a surge strip is always helpful in case of surges and possible electrical fires -- only one heater to a strip! believe it or not electrical space heaters are probably MORE likely to cause a house fire than a wood stove! be very careful when using them.  I have heated more houses than I should have with only electric space heaters. (about 8 houses) Your electric bill will go up into the crazy high $$ amounts.

Conserve every possible way you can - put plastic and blankets on windows & doors, reduce your living space to only the absolute needed areas like bathroom, kitchen and one other room, and use fans to help move the heat from the ceiling down.

another option that is a possibility is kerosene space heaters. DO NOT get the ones meant for in garages! A kerosene heater is a costly choice but at least you wont have a bill coming in the mail later that you cant pay, since you have to buy the kerosene up front. You can buy the K-1 that is sold in the farm and home supply stores. K-1 burns the cleanest of all the options, although it costs about $5 a gallon. It still stinks like kerosene but it will not leave such a build up in your lungs or on your walls, clothes, furniture, or curtains like K-2. K-2 is some pretty nasty stuff, but it sells for about $3 a gallon and can be bought at a gas station pump. Sometimes you don't have enough money or the farm store may already be closed so your left with buying K-2, it happens. The most important thing is to always light the heater outside wait till it stops smoking then bring it inside carefully. If you cant take it outside then at least take it close to the door or a window and open it so the smoke isn't trapped inside with you to breathe. Most of the ignition systems do not work and you will need to learn how to light it manually. Also knowing how to trim a wick is something you'll want to learn.

and the last option is to use wood heat. This I admit is probably out of the realm of possibility for most people but it's worth mentioning. There are so many things you need to do before you can make use of a wood stove but when done correctly things couldn't be smoother! The first 2 years we ever had a wood stove were the best ever. In fact although we had no prior experience and was only going on what we had read online - we had more luck than ever. Having an adequate supply of seasoned wood is not difficult to do and you can heat with unseasoned wood if you have to. We always did error on the side of caution when placing our wood stove in our house. We always placed it at least 18" away from all walls and had a heat shielding backer board tray thing we put under the stove that spread out at least 18" on all sides (this was something we bought at the farm store with the wood stove). Never use commercial fire logs like Duraflame!! We did one night and let me tell you it's the only time I've ever seen metal glow like that in my life! I though for sure our house was gonna burn down. We scooped it out and took it outside - not a good idea to walk a flaming log outside on the end of a fireplace scooper. Another item you may want when using a wood stove is fireplace scooper and an old metal cake pan or soup pan. Use the pan to scoop ashes into and also to store your scooper and the stick you use as a poker =)

Some other things to consider - boiling water will help add humidity to the air which will make the air feel warmer, running your dryer does help add heat to the air, turning on your oven and cracking the door will also add heat to your home.

on to cooking when your normal source of cooking energy is gas.

honestly your best bet with this dilemma is to cooking using electric stand alone appliances such as:

  1. microwave
  2. electric burner
  3. electric skillet
  4. electric griddle
  5. electric toaster oven
  6. rice cooker
  7. steamer
  8. crock pot

1. almost anything can be cooked in the microwave -- google is your friend here! ($30-$80)
2. electric burner is basically just one burner off your stove but powered from an electric plug rather than gas ($15-$80)
3. electric skillet is about the same as an electric burner other than using your own pans, you use the one provided. honestly get the biggest one you can afford. ($12-$40)
4. same as the electric skillet except it's flat. great for making pancakes, bacon, hot sandwiches, etc. any size is ok but at least big enough to do one sandwich/pancake ($12-$40)
5. electric toaster oven are ok but should not be seen as something that is going to last you forever. they are quite disposable especially if you cook bacon in them! this is good to make cakes, meat loaf, or partial pizzas in. no matter what any of them say you'll probably have to cut a pizza in halves or quarters to cook them inside a toaster oven -- does it matter as long as you get pizza?! lol  look around in stores or at used shops for small pans that will fit inside your little oven and your good to go.
6. rice cookers can be used to heat up or cook a lot of different items. check online for the users guide or recipe book and you'd be surprised to see what the manufacture's ideas are let alone just some average people come up with!
7. steamers are as versatile as a rice cooker but they can steam veggies and cook rice, usually. worth a shot to think about
8. and last but not least the crock pot. there are very, very few things you CANT do with a crock pot -- it may be more versatile than the microwave! only downside is crock pots take some time but if you plan ahead your good to go!

Only problem is if you have no gas or electricity - then your options are more limited. A grill (charcoal or propane) is your best, quickest bet to cook food. After that you have the option of making or buying a solar cooker, which is a good idea if it's not in the dead of winter with cold temps outside. (still may work even then!) you can also make use of your dashboard in your vehicle as a temporary solar cooker. one other idea is an idea I've seen online and used historically -- the one pot method (I think?). It's where you add all your ingredients bring it to a boil and then remove from the heat and then if you want you can wrap it up in a towel or blanket to hold in the heat. Here's a video on a simple way to put this in action

And last but not least is to eat any foods you can without heating. Pre-cooked foods are the best possibility like canned soups, veggies, etc.

Hope all of this helps getting the ideas flowing :D


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