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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I realized today that ALL of our heat sources rely on electricity. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/duh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="duh"> The oil furnace needs electricity to work the pump. The space heaters plug in. No wood stove or fireplace.<br><br>
What would you do to stay warm in a blizzard or other long power outage? How do you keep the pipes inside the walls from freezing up? We've been considering getting a wood pellet stove but 1. they need electricity too and 2. our house is too big to be heated by one wood stove. Oh yeah and 3. we can't afford either a wood burning or a pellet stove for a couple of years. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">:<br><br>
Other winter storm tips? How do you keep warm when the lights go out?
 

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If you can afford one, have a generator installed that will run the entire house. you can also purchase smaller ones that will keep major appliances and the furnace running, but the house will be dark. My dad has a small one, and if they keep everything running including the lights, will power the house for about three days.
 

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Yup, another vote for the biggest generator you can afford. At the very least, get one that will run your furnace, water pump, and fridge!<br><br>
And then - be sure to use it safely. The auto-on generators are the easiest option, but also the costliest.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>JimmyMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9895312"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I've always heard that you can leave your faucet running just a little bit to keep from the pipes freezing.</div>
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One would need electricity thou for the water to run, but yes if you are going out of town or it's going to get super cold at night and the electricity works, then yes, this is a good method.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Denvergirlie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9899168"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">One would need electricity thou for the water to run, but yes if you are going out of town or it's going to get super cold at night and the electricity works, then yes, this is a good method.</div>
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Really? Is that for all water or just well water? We've never once had our water stop when the electric's been out, and once it was out for 4 or 5 days straight. We've always had water.<br><br>
You might consider a wood furnace. They are much cheaper than a wood stove, and can be found used fairly cheap and can be installed yourself if you're only slightly handy. If you have existing ductwork, it can be used. Electric is necessary to run the fan, but even with no fan, a fire still produces heat.
 

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A generator is about the only option I can think of for power. You must have a huge house if one pellet stove couldn't heat it. Our pellet stove will heat up to 3,000 sqft and there are quite a few models that go way above and beyond that. Of course, then price becomes a huge issue. I would think that first priority would be to keep a heating source running, then you don't have to worry about pipes freezing and stuff. Even if you don't have a generator that can run the whole house, you could still unplug your heat source from time to time to periodically run other important items, like a well pump or a grinder pump for the sewer.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>abac</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9899211"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Really? Is that for all water or just well water? We've never once had our water stop when the electric's been out, and once it was out for 4 or 5 days straight. We've always had water.</div>
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Unless you are using gravity (your water source is higher than the pipes), I don't know how that would be possible. You need a pump source to get the water through the pipes. Although you'll have a certain amount of standing water in the pipes if the power goes out, it won't likely be 4 or 5 days' worth.
 

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I agree on the generator. Always shut off the main breaker to the house when you use it so you don't electricute line workers as electricity will backfeed into the power grid unless your main is disconnected.<br><br>
Unless you have a pump, you don't need electricity for your water to run. On city systems it's generally pressure based. We've never had a pump on any of our municipal water-supplied homes and other than having a well, I don't know who would.<br><br>
If you decide to get a wood stove of some type people tend to just congregate in the rooms heated by the stove, even if that means camping in the LR for a couple days. It doesn't need to heat the whole house.
 

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We've always had water when the power was out, in every house and apartment I've ever lived. Even for a week at a time once.<br>
We wouldn't have heat at all if our electricity was out, but our apartment is pretty well insulated so I think we'd maintain a decent temperature (50s) for the first few days, if we were careful to not open the door for more than a quick second at a time. I would cover the windows and sliding glass door with taped up blankets to better insulate, and dress really warmly.<br>
Would gas stoves still work without power? If so, you could cook with the oven and heat the house at the same time, and boil water for hot baths and let the water sit in there until it cooled to help warm the air.
 

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If you have city water then no, you don't need electricty for your water to work. You do need it for a well pump though.<br><br>
Problems with generator: noisy! and exhaust, besides keeping gasoline sitting around all winter - you have to put a stabilizer in it and keep the neighbors from stealing it.<br><br>
My parents use their generator to keep the fridge/freezer going, their well pump-house is very insulated and my dad can put a light in it with the generator (they rely on city water for their water though), mom got a big Aladin lamp for the main light source, and they have a wood stove for heat. They are at the bottom of a big hill, so even when the rest of the world is coming back out they are stuck down there till it thaws more.<br><br>
Our house is decently insulated, and as soon as I turn the heat down, the temp drops pretty quick. I doubt you could maintain 50 degrees in here for more than a day, much less for several days. We have city water, and I sleep during the day, so our only problem is heat. We are getting a keroseen heater for the event of an ice storm. (I just don't like the noise from a generator.)
 

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Our freezer is out in the unheated/uninsulated garage on purpose, so if the power does go out in a freezing-cold snap it does keep things cold enough to keep from spoiling for several days (provided we do not open it AT ALL). (Ask me how I know! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> )<br><br>
This is a long-term solution, so it won't apply to everyone, but I think a wood stove is a must when possible, because even though it will not heat the entire house it will keep at least one room warm and habitable - the others can be cordoned off with blankets and doors. The top of a wood stove can be used for heating cooked foods, and one of those little fans can be set on top to move the heated air around (Whole Earth catalog, I think?). We have even heated up those microwaveable rice packs on a rack on top of a small wood stove, to put under the covers in cold beds - really warms things up.<br><br>
Pipes just need to be super-insulated. This is very difficult to confirm when you're renting, but it's worth really bugging the landlord about (my sister had the sprinkler system burst TWICE in her apartment, a major legal violation at best). If you own your home, find out who the very best insulation people are (they will offer a guarantee) and have them do your pipes. I agree w/PPs that unless you are on a pump, water supply is generally unaffected during a power outage.<br><br>
Have lots of batteries and flashlights on hand for light - while candles are cheap and pretty, the risk of fire is always a problem and if you're snowed in it's just that much harder for crews to get to you, increasing the potential for major damage or total loss.<br><br>
Keep a hand-cranked radio/flashlight on hand, best bet is one that can charge your cell phone too as most phones these days seem to require an electrical outlet too.<br><br>
Keep enough bags of salt and sand on hand (and a good snow shovel, NOT just a regular shovel) that you can safely get out to your car or the nearest main road. Emergency services may be unable to reach you if you don't have some resources on hand for meeting them at least partway. We keep enough salt and sand that we could help a neighbor too, if needed.<br><br>
Or you can use my strategy, which is to move to a climate with no snow, because I just can't take it! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
I know I strayed off the topic of warmth - we had a freak snowstorm here last winter that left people iced in without power for the better part of 2 WEEKS, and it was a miracle nobody died. We are not generally snow-prepared around here, and it showed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, it's an old 1910 house, too big for one woodstove to handle. Insulating the pipes sounds great on paper, but these old houses are often leaky, drafty and VERY poorly insulated so it's the pipes inside the walls I'm worried about.<br><br>
Honestly, if we had the thousands of $$$ for a wood stove we would have one already. I'm tired of the house being 50 degrees through the winter. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> We deal with it w/ space heaters in a couple of rooms but it's not fun.
 

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I know you can't afford a wood stove yet, but another thing my dad's got at his house, in fact it came with the house, is a wood burning stove that is in the basement and connected to all the ductwork in the house. Whoever installed it just added another duct to the one that comes out of their regular furnace, and installed a blower. They use their wood stove more than they do the furnace because its an oil furnace and insanely expensive to run. So if and when you're ready, this might be a good option-especially compared to those outdoor wood burning things which are really expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Did he cut the ductwork in himself or is his house forced hot air? Our oil furnace goes to hot water baseboard heating, so there aren't any ducts in the house. I've never heard of forced hot air powered by an oil furnace, interesting!<br><br>
We are def. planning to save up for a stove of some kind (wood or pellet) in the future, so thanks for sharing more options.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I've never heard of forced hot air powered by an oil furnace, interesting!</td>
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This is what we have, and it's also attached to our wood furnace. (We don't use the oil furnace at all.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Isn't it godawfully DRY in your house? We had forced hot air when we lived in the south but it was humid all year round so we stayed healthy. My skin and sinuses would be hating life if we had forced air here in NH.
 

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Yes, it's dry, but warm and cozy. We combat the dry air by leaving water in the bathtub when we're finished bathing, and it also helps to place dishes of water over the registers, so the warm air makes it evaporate.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>abac</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9921639"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Yes, it's dry, but warm and cozy. We combat the dry air by leaving water in the bathtub when we're finished bathing, and it also helps to place dishes of water over the registers, so the warm air makes it evaporate.</div>
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We kept a pan of water on top of my parents' woodstove to help with the humidity too.
 

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In terms of draughtproofing, have you stopped up the gaps in your floorboards? There's a lot of things that can be done to keep older houses warm, especially the turn-of-the-century ones. Also, quilts make great curtains.
 
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