It's the dog days of summer, even at 10pm your neighborhood is just slightly warmer than the surface of Venus, and everybody in town's got their A/C units cranked up to 11. Which would explain what triggered the rolling blackout that has now left you and yours sitting in a darkened home. Just because you're going to swelter until the power comes back doesn't mean you need to do so in the dark. Here's some ways to lighten up the situation without having to resort to a pricey generator.
Remember your old friend fire, the glowing body of gas generated by the combustion process? Turns out, it's still really good at producing light, and with the right accoutrements you can use candles to set a room alight without, you know, actually setting it alight.
One utilitarian option is to raid your emergency go-bag for its 100 hour candle. These 1-pound light grenades burn liquid paraffin, which produces odorless, smokeless light for the better part of three days. And since the fuel is sealed in the container with only the wick exposed, you can safely snuff it out, store it, and use it again for the next blackout. Just make sure you open a window for ventilation.
Emergency candles are, of course, designed for all function and no form. There's no style to them. So what do you do if you're expecting company when the blackout hits? You can't very well entertain around a single 100-hour candle. Instead, quickly and easily assemble Mason lanterns to save date night. Take a few wide mouth pint and quart-size mason jars, fill the bottom inch or so with whole coffee beans, rock salt, or sand, light a tea candle, drop it in, and boom—you've just made an attractive, illuminated centerpiece.
If you've got rambunctious kids and lots of drapes, open flames probably aren't your best bet. Luckily, with a plastic jug of water and a headlamp, you can fill a room with light just as easily as igniting a candle. Take a filled, one-gallon plastic water jug and strap your headlamp to the side of it with the bulb facing the bottle. Light refracts through the liquid, turning the jug into an impromptu camp lantern and illuminating the room.
Really any directional light source will work; the headlamps band simply makes attaching it easier. If you don't have one available, you can also use waterproof LED tea lights or just drop an MX3 in there. On the other hand, if you don't have a gallon jug handy, these bottle cap lamps from Puntoit Design fit onto any regular-mouth water bottle and provide four hours of light. There's also the Lightcap 300 which is completely self-contained and solar-powered.
Jug lamps are great in a pinch but for longer power outages, you're going to want a more robust lighting solution. The Coleman 4D XPS, for example, uses 190 lumen Cree XR-E LED light source and runs between 25 and 60 hours on either 4 D-batteries or the rechargeable 6V battery pack. The Energizer Light Fusion lantern is also a solid choice, and uses more-easily-obtained AA batteries.
Using a lantern is great, but having to stumble and rummage around in the dark looking for it, not so much. The Greenlite 3-in-1 flashlight is an inexpensive and low-pro way of preventing that. These LED lights plug into any open wall socket and act as an automatic night light, area light, and flashlight with an 8-hour operational life.