The Energy Saving Trust has described it as a ‘worst-case scenario’ yet, according to National Grid, there is a possibility that our homes and businesses could be without power for three-hour periods. Some of you may remember the winter blackouts during the 1970s and the challenges they created, but Britain may have to reduce its total consumption by 5% if it can’t import enough electricity. With us relying on technology and, therefore, ‘power’ more than ever before, how can you prepare, should there be power outage this winter?
No need to panic
National Grid’s warning is just that: there is no guarantee that it will actually take place, but it does highlight that we should all start to look at our consumption. Reduced supplies from France and the war in Ukraine seeing supplies of Russian energy being cut off have caused uncertainty around gas supplies. Stew Horne, head of policy at the Energy Saving Trust, stated, ‘In the short term, the UK government needs to consider how to reduce energy demand this winter to increase energy security, lower bills and promote decarbonisation for the long term.’
There’s no harm in planning
Should the worst-case scenario happen, no one wants to be caught out, which is why there is no harm in planning for such an occurrence. It is worth stocking up on some supplies, such as battery-powered torches and lamps; head torches could be another valuable item to help you find your way around your home. It is amazing how many things around our homes need electricity, our new ‘cost of living’ favourite the electric blanket, stair lifts, garage doors, and what about your electric car should it be unable to be charged?
One thing that a power outage can cause is a power surge. This is because when the power is turned back on there will be a massive spike in the electrical system’s current. It may only last a fraction of a second, but the damage it can cause to any appliance, laptop or electrical device could be severe. This is why it is recommended to turn all plugs off at the wall to be safe.
Your freezer is one appliance that may cause you concern, especially if you have been batch cooking to help save money over the tricky months ahead. According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), if you keep your freezer door closed, it should hold its temperature for around 24 to 28 hours. Your fridge will keep food safe during a blackout for up to 4 hours as long as you keep your door closed, says the FSA. Anything perishable in your fridge that exceeds four hours without power, such as chicken, fish, and even leftovers should be thrown away.
As you will not be able to warm a kettle, you may wish to fill a flask or two so you can have a hot drink. Those of you who have a log burner will be at an advantage to those who don’t, but there are other alternatives, such as bioethanol fireplaces. Produced by a sugar fermentation process, bioethanol is a renewable energy source with a much lower carbon footprint than fossil fuels. The fireplaces produce real warming flames quickly and, as you don’t need a chimney, there is no smoke. They are a great alternative for those looking to change their gas or electric fire in the near future
Onesies were once seen as a bit of fun, but now they are seen as a vital part of your wardrobe this winter with stores such as John Lewis, seeing a steep rise in onesie purchases. “With the cost of energy such a concern, we are seeing customers spend with heat in mind,” said Claire Miles, the head of category fashion at John Lewis.
Things to do
Book lovers will have no problem finding something to do during a blackout, with a torch carefully placed, they will lose themselves in a pages in front of them and three hours will no doubt pass very quickly. For those who prefer to watch TV, listen to music or even do a spot of work on their laptop, some pre-planning will be needed. Remember, you can download programmes to a device from streaming services such as Netflix and iPlayer, but you will need to ensure that you have a good battery life, or a spare portable charger to add some necessary juice when you need it.
Board games could also be a fun way to bring your family together to pass the time, or you could even pick up or start a hobby you had been wanting to try, e.g. drawing, painting or even writing, you first best-selling novel could come out of your power outage experience.
In an effort to save energy this winter you may wish to adopt some of these practices during your week: how about downloading a film to watch snuggled in bed, rather than using the TV. Or you could change your habits and put reading back into your routine which will also help your sleep patterns if you choose to read before bed.
At NEXA we recognise that we all need to make some changes in how we use energy to help our country reduce its overall consumption. If you have any great ideas on how to prepare for a power outage this winter, we would love to hear them.
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