Where to Start: Fuel

Let's talk about necessities.

What is a necessity? It is something you need to sustain life. Luxuries are things that make life easier/longer/entertaining/etc. For example:

NECESSITIES: Food, water, shelter.

LUXURIES: Cars, TV, A/C, cable, "nice" houses, electricity, phones, running (hot/cold) water, central heating, radios, travel, prepared/convenience foods, internet, ready-made "fashionable" clothing, comfortable mattresses, access to education or libraries, sewer systems...you get the idea.

In my opinion, most people in the USA (and the rest of the First World) have confused "necessities" with "luxuries." Which has caused many stresses, with people demanding that their "rights" include luxuries provided as "necessities." (ObamaPhones, anybody?) But I digress...

When I hear "rationing" associated with WW2, I immediately think "food." Maybe if I'm having a good day, I might think "clothes." But it turns out one of the main things rationed (and part of the reason some of the others were rationed) was FUEL. Fuel technically isn't a necessity, although fire could arguably be considered a necessity, depending on the climate. I'd include fuel/fire under the "shelter" heading. "Shelter" could more properly be termed "An Hospitable Physical Environment, Compatible With Life." (I would personally file clothing under "shelter" also; clothes being basically a portable way of ensuring AHPE,CWL.) Fuel keeps people from freezing in cold weather, fuel makes it possible to cook food, fuel in its various forms can make life much, much easier. 

Fuel rationed included gasoline, kerosene, paraffin or lamp oil, natural gas, coal, and electricity. I couldn't find any evidence that wood (for burning) was rationed. During wartime, the military had priority for fuels. Next priority would have been fuels needed to produce food. Third in line, transporting food from the farms to the people. What was left over was rationed among civilians, and was always subject to disruption.

I had no end of trouble researching fuel rationing. I finally watched a BBC show, 1940s House, and right about 1:07, there was several shots of a British newspaper ad regarding fuel rationing. Success!!

Since part of discovering if we, as a modern family, could survive wartime rationing would include the necessary fuel rationing, I did my best to come up with my best guess as to what our fuel ration during wartime would have been:

1 Fuel unit equals:
*7 1/2 KW of electricity
*1 gallon of paraffin, kerosene, or gasoline
*500 cubic feet of natural gas
*1/2 cart of coal (I'm guessing this is a weight measure, but I'm not sure. Doesn't affect us, anyway.)

Fuel was rationed based on the number of rooms in the house and the number of people.
1 room--60 fuel units
2 rooms--70 fuel units
3 rooms--90 fuel units
4 rooms--100 fuel units
5 rooms--110 fuel units
6 rooms--120 fuel units
7 rooms--140 fuel units
Each person was allotted an additional 15 fuel units per month for person use.

Based on this, our 7-room house (4 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room) and three people, total 185 fuel units per month.

Well. Humph.

On our last electric bill, we used 1,031KW of electricity in 32 days. At 7 1/2 KW per unit, we used 138 units just to run the house, which would have left us only 47 units left for gasoline for the cars.

We use WAAAAY more than 47 gallons of gasoline each month. The only solution: we're going to have to start watching our electricity usage.

Excuse me...I have to go shut off the A/C. And a few lights....


Gorges Smythe said...

Life ain't gonna be easy! lol

Catherine said...

It's definitely going to be a challenge, that's for sure!

I'm hoping that once the weather cools off and we're not using the A/Cs anymore, that our electricity usage will drop enough to make the gasoline ration not an issue.

Tricky Wolf said...

I'm looking forward to keeping up with your challenge, found you through Gorges blog

Tricky Wolf said...

I'm looking forward to keeping up with your challenge, found you through Gorges blog

Sixbears said...

I think I have fuel beat, but only because I'm using solar electric for much of my power needs. Also have a vehicle that runs about 80% of the time on waste vegetable oil. Plenty of that stored up. Neither of these options were available back in WWII. However, just like my grandparents, I can heat my house with wood gathered within walking distance from my house. Feel pretty good about that.

By the way, also came over by way of Gorges's site.

Catherine said...

Hi, Tricky Wolf!! Welcome!

Sixbears, I've followed your adventures for a while now. Glad you came over for a visit! We heat with either wood or kerosene (which we get for free.) It's the gasoline ration that's going to be our bug-a-boo, since everything out here is so far and my husband MUST have enough gas to get to work. I envy you your veggie oil set-up. I've actually researched steamers and wood gasifier vehicles, but I'm not so sure they're entirely legal anymore. I may post on them later, though.