Thursday, July 5, 2012

How To Handle Summer Power Outages

Wow, it's been nearly a week since I was last able to get to my computer to make a blog post! I have had quite a few experiences with very hot weather, storms, and power outages where I live.

I have discovered that most people are NOT prepared to have their homes and lives disrupted by a multi-day power outage. My power was out for four days, and they were very hot and humid days at that. I seem to think that power outages of this length occur during the winter, so I was caught very off-guard to deal with the power being out during the summer.I have compiled a list of helpful information, that I have learned first hand, that will help you if you are faced with a similar situation.

1. Have candles and flashlights in a place that you can quickly and easily find them. I was trying to search for mine in the dark and they were behind other things. This includes knowing where lighters, matches, and batteries are to make these things work.

2.Refrigerators and freezers : DON'T open them to "check" if your food is cold or cool. This takes a great deal of restraint, but your fridge needs to retain as much of the cool as possible. In my case, I had to pitch most of my food after 2 1/2 days because it had cooled off. I was lucky that I had family with power to take my expensive meats and foods to.  One tip for freezers for energy conservation that is good even with power: you should keep two large blocks of ice in the freezer to help it become more efficient at cooling. If your freezer is very full or you have a full ice maker tray this will serve the same purpose.

3. Windows open vs. closed: With no A/C working during a power outage most people would turn to opening windows. This can be a close call if you are experiencing hot and humid weather outside your home. Even though the indoor temperature might reach 80, it will still likely feel cooler than outside because of the lack of humidity. If you notice a large temperature and humidity drop outside, this would be the time to open your windows.

4. Basements: My basement is not "livable", but if you are lucky enough to have space to hang out in the basement stays cool far beyond the power going out.
If you have a finished basement, or at least a liveable one this might be a great place to set up came while you wait for your power to come back on!

5. Pets: This was the most difficult part of the power outage! I have two dogs, three cats, and tortoises/geckos/turtles. Luckily the tortoises/geckos/turtles were not a concern because they did not need lights and the temperature was high enough to make them comfortable. For my  big dog and cats, the pets I could not take to a hotel or other family member's home, I left the toilet seat up. Gross, yeah, but the water stays cool and there is a large volume of water so it wont evaporate. These guys are hot being in a house with no air conditioning, so this is one occasion to let typical house rules fly out the window. I also left part of my kitchen sink full of water for the cats as well as leaving a large bowl in the bathroom sink.

6. Hotels: We decided that for the five of us humans, and my 9 pound dog, we were going to find a hotel to stay in for a few nights. There were widespread power outages, so hotels were all booking up. We made the decision on day 2 of the outages because we were given estimates of another 4 days of the power being off. If you are going to get a hotel, find one close to home so you can keep checking on your home. Also, find one with a cancellation policy that will allow you to cancel your night by 4 or 6 in case your power comes back on. Also, if you have kids, you might as well treat it as a mini vacation and find a hotel with a pool and complementary breakfast.

7. Turn off "Extras". One thing the power company asks of homeowners is that they turn off and unplug as many things as possible when they know their power is out. This helps prevent a surge once the electricity is restored. If every home had everything turned on and plugged in the power could go right back out again. They recommend leaving one light turned on so that you will know once power is restored. The A/C is the first thing they want you to turn off so that it doesn't draw large currents once the power comes back on.

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