We’re so dependent on electricity these days that it may seem hard to believe that only a century ago, only half of US homes had electricity. Nowadays, we regard an extended power failure as something of a disaster – but failures are a very real possibility for which we should be prepared. Are you ready to get through an extended power failure? If not, here are some ways you can keep your home habitable, and even quite comfortable, when the lights go out.
1. Consider Getting a Generator
Before taking the plunge and getting a backup generator, ask yourself “What size generator do I need?” You might opt for a low-powered one that only keeps lights and your less energy-hungry appliances going, or you could opt for a machine that can handle your water heater, stove, HVAC system and refrigerator too. The one drawback of generators is that diesel is expensive, and a really long power outage could see you battling to cover the costs. You’ll also have to maintain your generator – even if it isn’t used very much.
2. Go Solar
Solar energy is free, but the installation costs are quite high. Of course, a few years of running your home on solar energy can give you a good return, but if you want your solar energy to work for you in an emergency, storage of energy will add to your costs since you will need special batteries and a protected space to keep them. All the same, solar energy eliminates your dependence on the grid, leaving you in control even when infrastructure fails.
3. Use Gas Power as a Backup
Your main concerns during a power outage will be heat, light, cooking facilities and refrigeration. You could go for large LPG or propane-powered appliances, or you can just make sure you have full gas bottles and a range of camping appliances to cover the basics. You may be somewhat uncomfortable, however. After all, you’ll have to prepare hot water for washing on your stove unless you have a gas water heater too.
4. Do It the Old Fashioned Way but Expect Losses
Before we had all the mod-cons, people relied on fire for cooking and heating. In milder climates, heating isn’t much of an issue, and you might even be perfectly happy to cook on the outdoor BBQ. However, the contents of your refrigerator and freezer could be a problem if a power failure goes on for days. A good quality cooler can keep food frozen for 48 hours if packed full – less if it isn’t filled. You can try extending that time by wrapping frozen food in aluminum foil. For lighting, you can go with battery power. Paraffin lamps and candles are another option, but they can be a fire hazard so they’re not first prize.
Should We Rely on Utilities as Much as We Do?
Electricity from the grid was once a luxury. Today, we’re so used to reliable power supply that we could be vulnerable in the event of a natural disaster. For those of us who would like to feel that we can be fairly self-sufficient, even in difficult times, having a backup plan will be a must. After all, nobody really knows what tomorrow may bring.