Striving for Victory – The Battle for Fuel


By the 17th of  March, 1942, coal, gas and electricity were rationed  so that these resource could help the war effort. This month, we are going to emulate life on the home front by reducing the energy used in our homes.  The Battle for Fuel begins!

I’ve done my best to figure out our fuel rations but these rations are not going to be all that accurate.  Firstly, math is not one of my strong suites and secondly, there are significant differences between our homes in 2018 and the homes in the UK during the 1940s. For instance, homes in the UK tend to be much smaller than what we are use to in North America. Additionally, our Canadian climate  is much harsher than it is in the UK, although at the time I am writing this post, the UK is facing a historical snow storm and it is hard to tell the difference between Canada and the UK! Another point to consider is that 1940s homes had fewer electrical appliances as the wartime household did not rely on refrigerators, deep freezers, or washing machines and dryers.

Despite these differences, we will do everything we can to reduce our energy consumption and embrace the spirit of the Battle for Fuel. This challenge starts in March and it will continue over the course of the Striving for Victory Challenge. We will add new goals to meet each month as we further reduce our consumption.

This month’s challenge:

  1. Find out how much energy you use each month. You can do this by using your past bills or by accessing your accounts online. You may want to determine your historically monthly usage as well as your daily usage.
  2. Do what you can to reduce your energy consumption and confirm that you did so by comparing your consumption at the end of March with your historical consumption. Our next post will provide tips, both historical and current, for reducing household energy use.
  3.  Bonus challenge – Determine what your ration for household fuel would be in 1942 for your household and see how close you can come .

Household fuel included coal, natural gas, and electricity. The fuel ration was measured out in cwts of coal, but don’t panic – this measure can be translated into kilowatt hours and gigajoules of natural gas.  To calculate what your ration would be you need to determine:

  • How many people are in your household?
    Multiply this number by 7 ½ to find how many cwt of coal you are allowed for your personal ration.  There are 2 people in my household so we get 15 cwt of coal per year. H has 4 people in her household so she is entitled to 30 cwt of coal per year.
  • How many rooms are in your home? Exclude utility rooms, pantries, bathrooms and any rooms in the basement that are not bedrooms.  I counted 4 rooms (I excluded my pantry, my bathrooms and my laundry room). That gives me an additional 60 cwt of coal per year. H has 6 rooms so she gets 75 cwt of coal per year for her house.
  • Where do you live?  Since both H and I live in Canada, and H lives on the wide open prairie, we are going to use the household ration for homes located in the North of England or Scotland.
  • Use the chart below, determine the fuel ration for your house based on your location and the number of rooms you have

Household fuel chart


  • Add the personal ration for all the members of your household to the ration for your house. This will give you your YEARLY ration.  Divide by 12 to get your monthly ration.
    Me = 15 + 60 = 75 cwt of coal a year or 6.25 cwt per month
    H = 30 +75 = 105 cwt of coal a year or 8.75 cwt per month.

With me so far?  Good, cause now we are going to convert the coal measurement to an equal amount of electricity or natural gas.

The first thing to know is that “cwt” stands for a hundredweight. Oddly enough, a hunderdweight is equal to 112 pounds (50.8 kg) of coal. The second thing to know is that 1 pound of coal is pretty much equal to 1 kilowatt hour of electricity.  That means there are 112 kwh in every cwt of coal. That makes the conversion from coal to electricity easy.  Whew.

The conversion from coal to natural gas is almost as easy as the conversion of coal to electricity. One gigajoule of natural gas is equal to 45.5 kilograms (100.31 pounds) of coal.  To figure out your natural gas ration, convert the cwt of coal to pounds of coal by multiplying by 112. Then take this number and divide it by 100 to determine the equivalent amount of natural gas.

As mentioned above, H’s monthly ratio of coal is 8.75 cwt or 980 pounds. This means that she allowed 980 kwh/month) OR or 9.8  gigajoules of natural gas OR a combination thereof. I get off much easier because we do not use natural gas,  I am allowed 8400 kwh per year (700 kwh per month) for our combined personal and household ration.

Stay tune as we will discuss energy saving measures in our next post.


Convert coal energy to KW: 

1 pound of coal = 1 kwh of electricity

One gigajoule of natural gas is equal to 45.5 kilograms (100.31 pounds).


If you want to join in, please do! We would love to hear about your experiences. If you have a wartime story to tell, please leave a comment. Stories are an important way to keep the memories of our mothers and grandmothers alive. And one more request, if you enjoy or find value in any of our posts, please consider making a donation to Sheepdog Lodge to support those for whom the horrors of war are not in the past.

  • Our Pintrest board

If you have any other resources we can tap into, please include them in the comments.


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