Freezing Cold Weather and No Power

We’ve been without power the last few days.  It went out Monday morning about 4am, and came back on this morning (Wednesday) at 5am.  Luckily, it was cold enough outside, that we just put the contents of the fridge in a big storage tub out in the snow on the deck.  The freezers were completely stuffed, so we just left them alone.  Things were still pretty frozen when we opened them this morning to check on them, so we’re planning on keeping all the food that was in there.

Our main problem was that we have an electric heat pump (and electric everything else), so we had no heat for 49 hours when the outside temperatures were as low as 19F and as high as 38F.  And since the power went out at night, the temperature in the house was about 65F – our normal sleeping temperature.  The thermostat read 44 as the power came back on, so we were definitely cold in the house.

The main living room of our house has a 75,000 BTU wood-burning insert though.  We were able to keep the temperature in that set of rooms (kitchen, living room, and loft upstairs) about 54F by burning wood.  We have an insert though – not a true wood burning stove – it’s nestled inside the previous fireplace and so radiated heat mostly goes into the bricks of the fireplace.  The insert requires a little bit of electricity to bring the hot air from inside the fireplace to the room.  And that air movement is also needed to help keep the insert from getting too hot (imagine glowing hot iron – we’ve done it before on accident..).  We were able to light small fires, but nothing that would really heat up that room significantly without chancing overheating the stove.  We also have a high ceiling and loft above that room, so a lot of the heat travels up to the loft.  Normally, we have a ceiling fan to push the air back down, but not without electricity.  I’m amazed we could keep that room as warm as we did.

We had previously bought a generator (before Sandy), but had never run it – we go to start it up, and it won’t start 🙁  It’s a propane generator, because of our expectation of limited use (normally, our power is rock solid), and we think it may have been too cold for the oil or propane.  We’re going to be playing with it over the next week to see if we can start it.  Then once we figure out how to get it started, we’ll have to drain the oil to put it in storage.

We also have several oil lamps that are generally used for ambiance, but they were used for actual light the last few days.  It was almost romantic writing Christmas cards out by lamp light.

52F was *way* too cold for my comfort when we went to bed last night, but we might consider taking our night-time thermostat setting down to 60 instead of 65.

Have you been without power for an extended period of time?  What do you keep your thermostat set to at night in cold weather?

8 thoughts on “Freezing Cold Weather and No Power

    1. Mom Post author

      We spent a lot of time outside as well, we had about 3″ of snow on Tuesday morning, and it was the perfect wet stuff for building snowmen. Daughter Person enjoyed sledding down our short hill in the yard, and learning how to make snow angels. The activity kept all of us warm.

      Reply
  1. donebyforty

    Oh, man, that sounds rough. Thank goodness for that fireplace insert! We once didn’t have power for a few days when visiting relatives and a hurricane hit. But luckily it didn’t have any impact on temperatures, as it was the summer. We just lost some food.

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    1. Mom Post author

      We originally bought the insert because I’m a pyro and using the open (traditional) fireplace went through a lot of wood and sucked the heat from the house. It sealed up that hole in our house envelope, provided an outlet for my pyro tendencies, looked pretty, and provided some heat. It was never meant to try to heat our entire house!

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  2. plantingourpennies

    Luckily we’ve never been without power for very long. In general it seems like our infrastructure is built to withstand pretty powerful storms, and I’ve only heard of power loss for more than a few hours when it comes to Cat 3+ Hurricanes.

    Reply
    1. Mom Post author

      In the 5 years we’ve lived at this house, the power has gone out twice in the last month and that’s it – the previous time was out about 6 hours and it was a failed transformer. This was the longest it’s ever been out though, and it took out a relatively large swath of our neighborhood, but not our immediate neighbor, nor the street lamp in front of our house – grr.. I think it took so long because we were lower on the quite long priority list at the power company, and according to them about 25% of all of their customers were out at the peak.

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