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Letter Re: Storage Without a Basement

Hello J. W.,

I wanted to write in response to the letter [1] posted July 2, 2014 from MM. The writer asked for suggestions regarding an alternative to storage without a basement.

The writer said, “Any suggestions will be helpful as a basement would have offered storage with automatic climate control in an off grid situation.”

It was my interpretation that the writer was looking for advice regarding how to keep his preps cool in the southern U.S. in an off-grid situation if a basement/cellar was unavailable or even an impossibility. I felt he was trying to say that in his area, a basement was not an option since the water table resides too close to the surface.

Normally, I would not nit-pick one of your responses, but I too have been pondering a solution to this very problem, and I desperately need some suggestions.

I currently live in a zero-lot-line home in the south-central U.S. Typical temps in the summer can reach up to 105F with high humidity. I am actively taking the steps necessary to move to another area where a basement AND and root cellar will be an option, but in the meantime, I need a solution to the original problem.

Without air conditioning or a cellar/basement, my food preps would be in danger of spoilage due to the extreme temperatures.

In an off-grid situation, we have a real problem. We can’t dig a root cellar because there is no room, and even if we had the room to do so, the water table is too close to the surface and creates a problem with moisture (standing water).

Your response did not address my question, and I would love the benefit of your problem-solving skills in such a scenario.

Could you re-address the letter and give your opinion as to a possible solution?

The scenario he wrote about has been bugging me for quite a while and I would love for you to share your wisdom.

Thanks so much. I am still reading “The Blog” daily and making progress one day at a time! – PlainJanePrepper

Hugh Replies: This is an area that I have recently addressed in my own preps. While the ground water is not an issue in our current location, we live in a house that was built on a concrete slab, so no basement is possible. There isn’t a convenient place to put an exterior root cellar, though that is high on my list of “wants”. If we determine that our current location is the location we will bug in to, the root cellar will happen. In the meantime, preps are stored in a garage. Fortunately, the garage is insulated, but the temperatures still soar well into the 100s in the summer inside. I installed an air-conditioner on the garage this year, specifically to deal with that. Drawing only 8 amps, it is able to keep the temperature hovering around 75.

Sadly, there isn’t really another way. Either you build an outbuilding that takes advantage of surrounding geography to keep the temperature down, or you use an air-conditioner. Back issues of Mother Earth News and Backwoods Home Magazine [2] have a plethora of ideas on energy efficient building that will suffice.