by Piper Terrett, the Green Voice of the UK

What is it like to do without gas or electricity? We’ve all become so reliant on these forms of energy these days that it’s often a shock when they stop working.

A little while ago I carried out two experiments – I challenged myself to live for a day without gas and a day without electricity. My aim was to discover just how dependent we are on these energy supplies – and what it feels like to do without them, as many people struggling to pay their fuel bills have little choice but to do.

My first task was to spend 24 hours without using our gas supply. This would be the easiest one, I thought, but I was wrong there! In the morning, as I emerged bleary-eyed from bed, it was dark, miserable and freezing cold. The first thing I did was reach for the central heating controls. Then I shrank back, remembering that they were out of bounds.  At least I was able to use the electric shower. I wrapped up warmly and put my fake Ugg boots on to try and keep my feet warm. Luckily I have a tiny electric fan heater which I sometimes use in my office while I’m working at home, but I tried to use it sparingly as I was worried about the cost.

At lunchtime, though, when I stepped out of my office into the rest of the house, the cold hit me like a wall. It was so nippy that I got into bed for half an hour to warm up! As I couldn’t use the gas hob to cook lunch, I made some toast using the electric toaster and heated up some tinned soup in the microwave. It was okay, but I’m not a big fan of microwave cooking.

As the afternoon grew colder, I got so fed up that I admit that I got in the car and drove to the supermarket. I told myself that this was to do some chores, but really it was to warm up and relieve the glum feeling that was setting in. Normally I would have gone for a walk but it was lashing with rain. I was tempted to seek refuge at my neighbour’s house but felt it would be cheating to make use of her central heating.

My other half, DJ, doesn’t feel the cold but, when he got home he remarked on how chilly the house was and put his fleece on. Teatime raised a new conundrum. We couldn’t use the gas hob, so what would we eat? We were flummoxed. I’d considered making something the day before and heating it up in the microwave, but decided that this was cheating. DJ suggested a barbecue (I think he was joking!) but with the rain lashing down outside it didn’t appeal.

We could have had a salad, but with the temperature dropping we wanted something warm and stodgy. However, there was nothing suitable to cook in the microwave. Then DJ remembered that the oven is electric (how dim are we not to have realised this before?!). Hooray for hot food! We could make a flan, cook potato wedges or toad in the hole. But some of the flan ingredients needed to be fried and while we could cook the toad in the oven, we’d need to cook the onion gravy on the gas hob. The microwave was a possibility, but it just wouldn’t taste the same. Eventually we decided on oven-roasted vegetables with couscous, which we made by boiling a kettle of water and mixing the water and couscous together in a bowl.

Dinner cheered us up no end, but washing up with lukewarm water wasn’t fun. Frankly, it was a relief when bedtime rolled around so we could huddle together and warm up.

In my next piece, I’ll be trying life without electricity. Wish me luck!

Have you had to do without gas or electricity? How did you cope? Leave a comment and let me know.