And what’s that compared to trying to replace an RTX 3080?

Let There Be Light

The worst part of an outage is when night falls, and in the winter months that can come early in the evening. Without power your place is enveloped in darkness, and basic tasks like just walking to the kitchen can result in slips, bumps, and unnecessary injury in general.

The first thing I keep on hand—in strategic places around the house—are LED lanterns. They’re low-cost, use very little power, and can go for months without having to replace the batteries. Keep one near a stairwell or on the kitchen counter so you can navigate your now-enshrouded home safely. And if you need to go somewhere else in the house? They’re portable. While being able to traverse your own place safely is important, the secondary effect is eliminating the need for the flashlight app on your phone, which is usually a battery vampire.

And since you’re likely going to have to be better friends with your analog entertainment, setting a lantern next to your couch or favorite chair instantly creates a cozy reading nook in the dark. And if you have several to spare, you have a lit gaming surface for tabletop RPG’s or board games (which everyone should always have in stock).

Alternatively, I have a couple of shake flashlights that rely on human power instead of double A’s. Shaking the flashlight runs a magnet back and forth through a coil to store charge in a capacitor, and voilà! A powered light. They’re not only effective but fun for kids too, and if nothing else give you a solid reason to thank the world’s lucky stars for Michael Faraday and his legendary work in electromagnetics.

Next on the list is something that’s a bit more old school—the candle. It may sound obvious, but don’t act like just having one didn’t get you an extra heart container in The Legend of Zelda back in the day. Having candles (and, of course, matches or lighters) can again light a path for you to get wherever you need to go. Granted, it is, you know, fire, so you’ll have to pay attention to them unlike no-fuss LED lanterns, but they’re cheap, burn for a while, and I dare say contribute visual and olfactory ambiance to the occasion.

Right now I’m running a scent called Black Tea and Lemon because I have excellent taste. I even have the sadly limited-edition A1 steak-scented ones, so, you know, you can find whatever floats your boat.

If you have a fireplace, building a fire is an easy and cheap way to not only light a room up but heat it up when the mercury starts to drop. If you have gas or oil heat this may not be too big of an issue for you, but I have an electric heat pump, so my living room fireplace is my go-to power outage hangout.

I try to always keep a cord of firewood on hand during the winter along with kindling or starter cubes in my inventory, but if you don’t have kindling and aren’t the Human Torch, this might add a degree of difficulty. And that’s why I keep paper phone books instead of pitching them. Sure, “you’ve got the internet,” but the thin pages from phone books make for great kindling, especially if you store your firewood outside and it’s not totally dried out yet.