Winter Weather and a New Year

Where I am, it’s about 40° F (4.4°C) right now, on January 1st, 2023. A week ago it was in the single digits, and there was a blizzard. I’m in Western NY visiting family, and was stuck inside for most of that weekend. Luckily, we had power and heat, and enough food. So we just sort of rode it out.

I’ve been caught in bad weather once in a while back home, once that took out my power for about a day and a half. It wasn’t too bad, except there was no power for my furnace – it’s natural gas, but what I presume is a small amount of power is needed to run the controls. And of course it’s hard-wired into the house. I have a small off-grid photovoltaic system I’ve cobbled together, with a 300 watt sine wave inverter that would probably have run the furnace with no problems. But I really didn’t feel like messing with the wiring right then and there. And, I was not interested in putting together a suicide cord. Something I’ll look at this year is wiring the furnace to a normal plug, and just having an outlet nearby. That way I can plug it into an extension cord next time this happens.

Between climate change, and the push for distributed energy in the form of home solar, I can see the need for individual dwellings to reduce their dependence on the grid. Not eliminate it, but just reduce it. This takes the form of backup power, as well as offloading some of the grid management difficulties regarding home solar to the homeowner. Batteries play a role here, something that a couple decades ago were in the domain of the off-gridder, but for which now there are commercial products.

Not that batteries are necessarily the perfect solution in the blizzard, unless you have a lot of them to last through a long failure. But they’re another tool.

Now, the weather is warming up, and it looks like the highs will be nearly 60° F (15.5° C) this week. At least there was snow for Christmas, I guess, and now we get a break. I find it a little unsettling, and hope for a tasteful amount of snow in a month or so. We’ll see.

I keep thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and I have varying degrees of success in keeping them. I’m just looking forward to feeling refreshed from vacation, and getting 2023 off to a good start.