Low-Tech Household Alternatives

Iowa Peak Oil

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I'm not suggesting that you throw all of your appliances away and start from scratch, though I would recommend that you start thinking about this as things wear out and need to be replaced.  The key is not to be dependent on anything that you can't make/do/repair yourself.  I want really just want you to think about these things.


Blender, Food Processor -- Knives, mortar and pestle, rolling herb grinder, hand cranked meat grinder.


Bread machine, mixer -- these are mostly unnecessary, but there is a simple hand turned mixer for making dough


Washing machine - hand cranked washing machine or smaller hand washer which you spin by hand (these both work quite well, and require a fairly small amount of effort).  You can small amounts of clothes in a 5 gallon bucket in the bathtub.

Clothes dryer -- hang it up; if you have a yard, an outdoor line is ideal, but you can also string line in your basement or even in your shower stall.


Refrigerator -- traditional ice box/ice house, root cellar, in-ground storage container (under kitchen floor, for example).  Again, I'm not suggesting that you actually do this, but it would do no harm to start paying attention to what you keep in your refrigerator, and be aware of alternatives.

Dishwasher -- no luck with this one - by hand is the only alternative.


Running water -- gravity water system (a gravity water system can also use passive solar for heating water - cistern (water tank under the floor) with a sink and hand pump, bucket/camp shower, Japanese style-bathing (scrub off with a bucket and soak in a heated tub), sauna, composting toilet

Utensils -- anything made from glass or plastic can be replaced by pottery, wood, or baskets as it wears out, and cast iron lasts more or less forever if properly cared for.

Lights - candles, oil (vegetable or animal) and kerosene lamps; more than anything else, you simply need to adjust your lifestyle to take advantage of natural light when possible

Heat - woodstove or masonry heater, and housing built to retain heat.


Cooking - wood or methane stove - a summer kitchen allows outdoor cooking during hot weather.  There are actually some wood fired cookstoves which can double as a heating stove.

Alarm clock - wind up, or a rooster.


Radio, batteries -- a small wind generator could easily provide for recharging batteries and there are some fairly low cost solar chargers that you can stick out the window.

Fans, AC - again, the objective is to use a form of construction that would make (excessive) heating and cooling unnecessary - there are a lot of options for venting and air flow which do not require electricity. 

Various powered personal items (hair dryers, curlers, electric razors, and so forth are simply unnecessary).

Sewing machine -- treadle sewing machines work exactly like older electrical machines, but are powered by your feet.  You can also sew by hand.

Vacuum cleaner -- no carpeting, no need for a vacuum cleaner - rugs can be beaten or shaken.

Microwave oven, tv/vcr/dvd, stereo -- (rude noise).