Large parts of our town are without power. We were without power off and on Monday. Everything is back up now for us but there are still 1000s of people without power in our town and still more in surrounding areas.
What does power out mean for us? Not much. We are prepared for power outages.
A few years ago an ice storm came through and took out the power over large parts of the state. The outage was so bad people were being forced from their homes. The cost was so high to the power company that they created a new policy of proactively trimming back trees that overhang power lines.
Many years ago my father called the local power company because a tree on our property was overhanging the power lines and he was afraid it would fall and take out the power lines. The power company’s answer? “When it falls and takes out the power, let us know and we’ll come restore power.”
This was the state of preventive care for power lines for many many years.
So we know that long term power outages are possible. What does it mean to us? Again, not much, we are prepared for power outages.
The thing to know is that electricity is required for many things within your house that are fueled by other means. For example, your oil burning furnace has a pump, an igniter and fans that move hot air around your home. Without electricity, your oil/gas furnace doesn’t work.
At the fram, we had a dual fuel furnace. It used both wood and oil. While we were there I think we went through about 10 gallons of fuel oil. The house was heated with wood. With electric fans to move the heat around the house.
There was a time when gas stoves were the norm. Only the fancy/rich people got electric stoves. Today electric stoves are the cheaper option and most people have electric stoves. It is also safer to provide an electric stove to a renter than to allow them to use a gas stove.
Some idiot leaves the electric on, it makes for a very hot burner. It might even destroy a burner. But that’s a $10 part replacement.
Some idiot turns on the gas but doesn’t light it and you can easily get gas concentrations high enough to ignite and burn down the building.
When we purchased the house we had an oil furnace, electric water heater, electric appliances. Over time we’ve replaced the electric stove and electric dryer with gas versions.
Having a gas stove means that we can cook, even if the power is out. The electric start doesn’t work, but we can light a gas burner with a match or lighter. No big deal. We actually have an out of gas bic long reach lighter next to the stove. The spark still works and the spark is at the end of the long neck. Turn on the gas, reach in with the lighter, pull the trigger and get sparks that light the stove.
Even before we had the gas stove, we had the ability to cook with gas. Our outdoor grill is gas powered and has a side burner. We can cook on the side burner or bake in the grill side.
Without power, our gas oven doesn’t work, which isn’t a huge issue for us.
Our primary source of heat is a wood stove in the living room. There are a couple of the cheap thermo-electric fans that sit on top and move the heat around. No power? No problem. That stove heats up most of the house.
We have Coleman gas lanterns, we have oil lamps, we have long burning candles. Long burning? Try two or three weeks. I’ve never been able to completely use up one of the candles mom makes.
For auxiliary heating I have a kerosene heater that is rated for indoor use. We also have a multi-fuel military heater that runs on fuel oil, gas, or kerosene. I would have to plumb the smoke stack, but it is certainly powerful enough to heat most of the house.
Our gas system was designed by me and installed by a professional. You do not want to mess around with gas lines.
We use two 100# propane bottles as our feed. Only one bottle is open at a time. It feeds up through a valve into a cross connect that then feeds into the regulator. The regulator then feeds the supply line to the stove and drier. If we want to upgrade the hot water, then we are prepared to do that in the future.
If the feed tank runs empty we just walk outside, shut the tank valve, shut the cross connect valve on the empty tank and turn on the valves on the full tank.
Later that week I’ll disconnect the empty tank, load it into the truck, drive to the local propane provider and get the tank filled.
Because of the price of propane and gas going up we also have a spare.
And if it gets bad, i.e both tanks run dry, I can hook up one of the little 20# tanks.
Those gas appliances give us a level of independence that electric never will.
On, we also have a generator. If power was out for an extended period of time we can pull the disconnect and power our home from the generator. That would allow us to keep the fridge and freezers at temperature. Without running the genset constantly.
The genset is powerful enough to actually drive the machine shop, but is portable as well.
There is always more to “bans” that first meets the eye. Banning gas stoves is a step towards government control of more of our lives.