Saturday, July 7, 2012
Learning the Hard Way
I've learned something the hard way this week. I discovered that while we are well prepared for a winter power outage, we are woefully unprepared for loss of electricity iin the summer. In winter, an outage is usually caused by snow or ice storms. We have both wood and gas for heat so we can stay warm. There is no worry about losing food because it can just be put out on the porch and the freezer stays cold because it is in an outbuilding. We have water because we can melt snow or ice. Kerosene lamps for light and we're set for the worst of storms. In summer the story is different. We have no way to keep food without refrigeration. When we lived without electricity we canned or dried our food so we did not have to worry about losing it. The downside of that is that not all foods retain flavor or can be processed by these methods. We have no source for water either since ours is in a well 723 feet deep. No water means no way to keep cool; showers are the best defense in hot weather and can make the worst of temps manageable. But with no way to pump water, we can't take showers. The gas fridge has helped a lot and made nights bearable because I can freeze icepacks to put into bed with us. And we have a way to keep at least some food. But without water it's most difficult to manage. So we have a new project. Step one is to buy and install a natural gas generator. The cost of these has dropped significantly in the past few years and we can get one for about $2000. They are easy to start and run much quieter than the gasoline generators. Step two is to set up a gravity feed water system. We already have 2 1200 gallon stainless steel tanks in the ground from the days when we had a spring system for water (the spring eventually dried up so we drilled the well). We can re-install the lines to the tank above the house and keep it filled so we will always have a water backup. Both steps are not difficult and we should have done them already, really. Now we have incentive and realize how vulnerable we are in the face of the loss of electricity. It's been an expensive lesson but a valuable one. Copyright 2007 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.