During the cold months, it’s o’ so common to bump in to someone whose boiler has broken. We all sympathise with it – the thought of having to cope on a single electric heater during deepest-darkest-January makes a chill run-up anyone’s spine. Then every spring, talk of drought hits the news, to the extent that last year there was even talk of having to have standpipes in the street over summer 2013. Whilst this fear was quickly drowned under months of torrential rain, it still filled people with concern and worry until the reservoirs were full again.
Yesterday morning though, we were hit by a worse loss: electricity. We woke-up to what we hoped would just be a couple of hours without power. It turned out to be over 10 hours until our power came back on. This was no trivial power cut – it was a proper power outage. What you forget though is how reliant you are on electricity. We were fortunate it was March because we were without light, heat or cooking facilities. Our shower has an electric pump so we couldn’t make use of our remaining tank of hot water except in trickle form. What’s more, once that tank was gone, we couldn’t heat-up another one anyway. We didn’t even have, more fool us, a chorded phone in the house. So we were left with our dwindling mobile batteries to keep us in touch with the electricity people.
Worried that power would not be restored before it got dark, we stocked-up on bread rolls and candles. We were, unfortunately, unable to find a small gas heater (I say ‘we’ – it was actually Sam who went looking). We were preparing ourselves for a rather cold and dark night. Fortunately our property had it’s power restored at about 5pm. Although, the work went on until 10pm, with some people not having power until that time.
As we move in to a world where everything is digital and powered by electricity, we are more and more reliant on the old and complex infrastructure that provides power to all our homes. In the UK, we take power for granted; cuts and outages are rare. But, it does make you wonder what sort of fail-safes we will need to build in to our homes in the future. The more automated our homes become, the more need there will be for localised power-sources. Perhaps it’s time to consider investing in some solar panels…