Staying Warm While The Power Is Out… And What I Learned In The Outage

The last time we lost power we went 3+ days in the dark. And the cold.

We learned our lesson. For well under $500 we picked up a small gas-powered electrical generator. It weighs under 50 lbs, carries like a suitcase, and while it won’t power everything in the house all at once, it will allow us to:

- Chill out the refrigerator/freezer – 2 hrs in the morning, 2 hrs at night is plenty;
- Simultaneously run as many lights as we have extension cords;
- And here’s the kicker: It will power the furnace!

It’s one thing to be in the dark. It’s another to be cold and in the dark, as we were with the 3 day outage.

“Power the furnace?” you ask. Well, it turns out that gas powered forced air furnaces – what most of us have – draw very little electricity, and that is just for the fan. The actual heat is, of course, gas powered. And the thermostat is either mechanical, battery powered, or draws a wee bit of charge from the same circuit as the fan.

To make matters more amazing, the furnace typically plugs into a 110 volt outlet – just like the ones in the house! We simply unplugged the furnace from the wall in the garage, attached it via the extension cord to the generator, and lived warmly ever after.

In fact it draws so little power that we were able to run the ‘fridge and the furnace simultaneously, along with all the lights we had extension cords for.

Now granted, when you put in the solar system you can add the “power wall” – good size batteries that sit on the wall outside. We, however, haven’t been able to make that addition “pencil out.” As cool as the batteries are, the math has not justified the cost. Yet.

So, if you’re on a budget, and don’t mind schlepping out the extension cords, consider a relatively inexpensive generator and stay toasty and bright the next time!