Monday, January 5, 2009


Last week we lost power for about 36 hours. That is not too much time, right? Except we don't have any way to produce heat or water without electricity. During the night it dropped down to about 20 degrees, but during the day it got up to be pretty warm. The house cooled down only about 7 or 8 degrees over the 36 hours, which is pretty good. We started at about 62 degrees, so it was getting a little nippy....

Every time we lose power, Crab-Mama and I talk about how to have power when we have none. Our neighbors have generators and propane, while we have candles and blankets. We probably pay significantly less for heating our house than they do, but, when the lights go out, they laugh last (b*stards!) So, should we get a freaking generator? We could do it in a cheap-*ss way by buying a portable generator and running extension cords all over the place.

Option 2 - we really want to go solar, but that is an astronomical amount of cash. Which we really don't have. But, the government is giving a 30% tax rebate for installing a solar system this year. So, that is like a 30% off coupon (well, rebate...) When you are taking about spending 10-20 kilo-bucks on the system, 30% is a lot (enough?)

One of the problems with any of them is trying to figure out how much power we really need to run our geothermal unit. When the radiant floor heating is working and it isn't too cold outside, it doesn't use too much power. When the blower comes on and it demands more heat, the "booster" comes on, which is a 220 V 40 Amp draw. Now, that is an *ss-load of power. So, it is clear that we can't heat with the "booster" when we have solar power. But maybe we can do the radiant.

Can we cook? Get hot water? Watch a movie? Have a reading light? And heat the house? Hmmm, all it takes is more money. Mo Money. Mo Money.

Another option is to go with a solar hot water heater. This could heat up both our hot water and our radiant, and would take all of the heating load off the electricity. We would then turn off the blower and heat with radiant only, using solar photovoltaic to run pumps and reading lights and other stuff. That would save us a huge amount of cash, but would be more complicated, since we would have to run both electricity and plumbing out to the roof and yard.

Anyone have a windmill?

1 comment:

Lee said...

We have a similar discussion whenever we lose power, which is fairly rare. It blinks quite often, but we've only lost power for more than a minute or two a three or four times. I'm personally against a generator since Len thinks he would install it himself, which sounds very dangerous to me. We only really have to worry about water in the winter (wood burning stove and gas stove). In the summer, one must worry about my deteriorating mood -- a couple of summers ago we lost power for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably more like an hour, on the hottest, muggiest, nastiest evening of the year. No water, no air conditioning, no fans, and I think we were out of bug spray. I'm surprised I didn't maim someone (Len).