Earlier this year, sometime this fall my apartment had a few days where there were power outages for a few hours each. It wasn’t so bad because by this time the weather was a lot cooler than it had been but even so it took this experience to realize just how reliant on electricity that I am. Not only was it difficult understand the concept of not being able to connect to the internet, but I also realized that all of the food currently in the fridge would be wasted if the outage lasted the rest of the day. But another thing to appreciate is that if this had happened in the heat of summer there would have been no way to stay inside that apartment for the rest of the day. This experience opened my eyes to just how reliant we are on outside sources to light and cool our apartments or houses and how difficult it is to survive without them. This is even more true for areas that have dealt with disasters and hundred to thousands of people have to evacuated just because their house are too warm or cold when if designed properly without so much reliance on systems they would not need to.
One example of this is last winter in Dallas and ice storm came and knocked out the power leaving many homes cold and uninhabitable except for one family, the Olp’s who’s house was prepared for such conditions. This house relied on natural flowing air to warm the house along with just a wood fire and was able to survive just fine on their own. Another interesting feature of this house is that even in summer it stayed around 75 degrees, only relying on air-conditioning at night.
Passive survivability is not only for people worried about natural disasters and power outages, but also for people aiming for sustainability because the two really go hand in hand, using natural systems where possible and finding self reliant systems where it is not.