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.


Angela said...

You will be so happy when the electric goes out the next time and that generator starts right up without you or Larry having to do anything! My husband bought me a generator like that for our anniversary a few years ago and I love it! Better than diamonds! lol One thing I will have to say is check the battery from time to time because one time ours didn't come on right away and it was because the battery had exploded and we had to get a new one. Thankfully the electric came back on soon that time. I also think my husband puts oil in it too.

Hope your electric comes back on soon!

Jenny said...

Living where we do we often have power outages. Like you though, most of them have been in the winter due to ice storms but we ARE in tornado alley & have had them in the summer too.

We considered a generator but we decided it just was not worth the cost to us. We've lived here over 20 yrs & in that time we could have used a generator twice when the power was out for more than 4 or 5 days. The rest of the time, the power was never out long enough that we couldn't get by without one. To us, the loss of all the food in our freezer wouldn't equal the cost of buying a generator, the fuel to run it & storing it for yrs before it's needed.

We also have a well so we don't have water either when there's no power. I do keep lots of water stored when I know storms are coming. We carry water from the lake in our back yard to flush toilets & use the stored water for drinking/cooking. We do have heat in the winter & we cook on a little camp stove if we need it.

I think losing power in the summer is much harder to deal with than winter. You just cannot find relief from the heat but it's easy to get relief from the cold. I hope your power comes back on very soon & you can get back to normal.

Nance said...

I don't know where my comments have dissipated to -- I have left probably three in the last 5 or 6 days . . . doesn't matter but makes me wonder if they evaporated or something! We hit 104.8 deg F today, no rain in sight but we have electricty. We are comfortable, even if our crops, plants and trees suffer. Take care! Glad you have your electric, your natural gas and a plan for future exigencies.

Hidden Trails Stables said...

Mother Nature is a harsh teacher, but it sounds like you have a good plan in place, Sue! Power outage in the summer is so different--and the water issue is definitely hard to deal with. We store water too, and have a generator for the freezers and refrigerator.

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