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Fossil Fuels: At Home

While fossil fuels are generally used for transportation or for the generation of electricity and heating, there are many instances when they can be used around the home. Though it is true that many people are turning away from a fossil fuel reliance, if used in small quantities and in conjunction with (or even to supplement) other renewable energy technologies, there's no reason to feel that you should avoid them. Moreover, with present concerns over the unreliable and costly supply of refined oil and gas for general consumption it certainly pays to have a back-up system in place just in case.


Oil and diesel generators for electricity and heating, portable gas cookers, barbecues and lamps, and oil and coal heaters (for both internal and external spaces) are all viable emergency back-up options in the event of a power-outage, a supply cut or an unexpected hike in prices. These hardware items can also be used for camping and caravanning, for outdoor entertaining, for boating and fishing, and for remote communities who have poor connections to the grid for both electricity and gas. All that is required is a stored supply of oil, gas or coal - perfectly manageable in cylinders (gas), drums (oil, petrol and diesel) and bags (coal).

Emergency Generators

The main reason many people keep stores of one or more fossil fuels at home is for use in emergency or back-up generators. There are several designs of portable generator available on the market, many of which have been developed for use on construction sites or for camping and caravans. Depending on your needs you may be satisfied with a small, portable diesel or petrol powered generator or you may decide that a larger and more permanent emergency back-up option is needed. When shopping for a suitable model, be clear about your power needs - small generators are only capable of powering a few lamps or power tools for a few hours at a time. For larger jobs such as whole-house heating and lighting you may need to invest in a significantly larger generator.

Coolking, Lighting And Heating

Portable cookers, lights and heaters have been around for a number of years and are particularly popular amongst campers and caravanners. Small stoves are popular with backpackers and with people living in urban areas for use on construction sites, for picnics, or as an emergency back-up cooker for use during power outages. Portable stoves come in a number of designs and the majority of the modern models use gas as fuel (supplied through small cylinders or cartridges that can easily be refilled or replaced). Some older designs may use liquid fuel (such as ethanol, petrol or kerosene); these models are known to operate better in cold weather and are easier to refill than gas.

Fossil-fuel powered heaters are also incredibly useful both for outdoor entertaining and emergency supply, particularly in the colder months when fuel shortages and increased demand can lead to power cuts. Kerosene (or paraffin) and natural gas are the main fuels used in such heaters, though coal could also provide an adequate source if ignited to burn in a brazier or pit.