Ice Storm Outage
Posted on March 5, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 10 Comments
The winter storm that went through Ohio knocked out power here starting yesterday afternoon and continuing through about five minutes ago (5 am). I’m catching up with everything right now, online and off. I’ll probably not be posting a lot here today. Of course, I always say that and then go on a posting tear. But let’s assume it’ll be true for now.
When you’re stuck inside your house you always run out of more important things to do, and nine year old kids call upon reserves of patience no man has ever possessed. When you’re sure no jury in the world would convict you, we’ll be here for you. :)
NOTE Shameless plug
There ARE many options for emergency generators and if power outages directly affect your work, you might get a real and definable payback. *cough* I could set you up, of course.
If nothing else I suggest spending $200 on a small solar panel, charger, car battery and 300 watt inverter; you can keep the laptop going.
You know, when the power goes down, generally speaking the last thing I’m thinking about is all the stuff I could be doing online or with my computer. It’s kind of when other things take precedence.
Agreed. Most people think of their heat, first of all. By night, how do I get to the bathroom without knocking over the dog or the new end table. When I get there, will the water run? etc.
In this work I run into all kinds – some want TV, some heat, sumps pumps, oxygen generators, some have horses and need to make sure that well pumps work. And some work from home so having the computer running is everything. I don’t mean to chase ambulances here.
I would think heat would be #1 on the priority list followed, ironically by refrigeration. How do you heat? My best friend moved to Kentucky and is on all electric. I wouldn’t be comfortable in that situation. I have read about enough ice storms to not want to have to rely on electricity for heat. I have to mention that I live in San Diego and really know nothing about it. I have never let that keep me from expressing an opinion.
no electricity = no thermostat
no thermostat = no heat
there are other types of natural gas furnaces, to be sure, but most people lose the ability to run their furnaces and water heaters when they lose their electricity, so the question of whether you’re on all electricity or a combo of electricity & natural gas is pretty much moot.
sorry to hear you lost power, John. we lost ours for about a day and a half early this winterseason. instant transportation back to the 19th century, except without the fireplaces in the living rooms, coal burners in the bedrooms, etc., and without realiable light sources. couldn’t even wrap myself in a blanket and read. couldn’t make morning [fill in hot caffienated drink of choice here] to get the day started. I so would have hated to actually live through “ye olden days”
I was quite surprised at how cheap house backup power supplied (in the 5-20Kw range) were at Home Depot.
I’m not sure how our furnace would react. We have gas heat (hot water circulated through radiators) and a very old Sear Roebuck Furnace (yes, Sears). We replaced our analog thermostat with one that we can program for different times of the day but I think that is battery operated (I could be wrong.). I do know that the pump won’t circulate the water without electricity so our basement (which has radiators) will get warm but not the rest of the house. (We had a problem with the way the pump was regulated when we first moved in and discovered the side effect about the basement getting warm as a result. We were lucky that the pressure didn’t build up enough to cause the furnace to explode.) We have a gas stove that can be lit with a match if the power goes out and the electric starters don’t function. We also have an old fashioned fireplace and wood. I have a couple of flash and book lights and batteries on hand. Although when we’ve had long power outages, I tend to keep active to stay warm and not read..
Yeah, having all electric heating irks me to no end. What gets me is that the building my apt is in was originally piped for fuel oil, but they tore it out. So I get to eye approaching storms while completely away that an empty, useless fuel-oil tank is only 15 feet away on the other side of the building.
Luckily, here in Asheville our winters aren’t fatally bad as long as you’re not sleeping rough without good gear. If the power went out, we’d certainly be cold as shit, but we’d live. Probably spend all day sucking up tax-paid heat at the library or something.
It’s odd how dependent we’ve become on wasteful/nongreen electricity in an age of higher and higher home heating efficiency. Modern systems do a great job of extracting heat from fuel but almost universally require electricity to distribute it through the home. Not much, mind you, but more than zero. Many are electrically ignited too.
Ironically, some old-style steam radiator systems would work without electric as long as you kept a (usually coal) fire burning in the boiler. Steam would rise naturally to the radiators, condensate would drain back to the boiler and so on.