Cold

Sitting here in Northern IL. with the temp. -5 hoping my furnace won't quit. Anyway this brought this Question to mind. How do the folks prepare in areas where it is really cold(e.g. Alaska) are the furnaces they have built for harder use? do they have backup units? I know most of them have fireplaces but I don't think they can heat some of the large homes we saw in Alaska with just a fireplace. I can't imagine a service guy mushing to a home at 3AM and-30. This is not a earth shaking question but it would good reading I think. Frank
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It has gotten to -22f in N Illinois, thats cold, but I would guess wood stoves, and a generator can do all you need. If the electric grid went down today very few here would be prepared, alot would die.
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I'm in CT and have at least marginal backup. Propane heater and wood stove.
Yes, most big service companies have people on call or on the road 24 hours a day. YOU MAY pay a premium though.
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Hi Frank,
I'm not from Alaska, but having survived the ice storm of '98 (see: http://archives.cbc.ca/300c.asp?id=1-70-258 ), I was determined never to be left without heat again.
Under normal circumstances, the bulk of our space heating requirements are met by a single ductless heat pump, the operation of which is obviously dependent upon electricity. When the heat pump cannot keep up with the demand or when temperatures fall below -10C (the point at which it basically suspends operation), the oil-fired boiler kicks on -- however, it too is dependent upon electricity. In addition, a number of rooms have in-floor electric radiant heat and if either (or both) primary heating systems fail, this third option can supply at least some heat, again, assuming we have electrical service.
In the event of an extended power cut, there are four propane fireplaces distributed across three floors and a propane cook top that can be used to prepare hot drinks and meals -- the latter will prove critical it terms of your personal comfort and safety if you plan to remain in your home during such an event, or are unable to leave for whatever reason.
Lastly, our boiler is wired to a backup generator, so one or two hours operation each day would provide us with all the heat and DHW we require. If it became apparent that power wouldn't be restored for some time, running the boiler in this manner would allow us to conserve our supplies of propane for other, more critical use.
And on that point, I try to keep at least 500 litres of heating oil on hand at all times and 300 or more litres of propane in our main tank, plus two smaller BBQ size tanks in reserve. I also keep two 20 litre containers of gasoline in the garage and these get refreshed about every other month. Given that our home is exceptionally energy efficient, that's more than enough fuel to get us through an entire winter.
Cheers, Paul
wrote:

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wrote:

Article:
Nevada flood waters begin to freeze over WEATHER: Thousands remain without power in Northern California. By Martin Griffith The Associated Press Article Launched: 01/06/2008 09:13:28 PM PST
FERNLEY, Nev. - Hundreds of homes sat in as much as 8 feet of water Sunday following a canal rupture as freezing weather spread sheets of ice over yards and streets, hindering efforts to get the water to drain away.
Nearly 300 homes were damaged when the canal's bank gave way following heavy rainfall produced by the West Coast storm system that had piled snow as much as 11 feet deep in the Sierra Nevada.
Thousands of customers were blacked out across the West and many of them in California could remain in the dark for days because the storm ripped down nearly 500 miles of power lines, utility officials said Sunday.
More than 215,000 people remained without power in Northern California alone.
Six snowmobilers and two skiers were reported missing in heavy snow in the mountains of southern Colorado, and one hiker was missing in snow-covered mountains in Southern California.
At least three deaths were blamed on the storm.
The irrigation canal failure at Fernley released a wave of frigid water into the town early Saturday.
"In 10 minutes the entire back yard was completely flooded. It was just nothing but water," said Kristin Watson, whose home backs up to part of the canal. "We just sort of panicked because we knew we had to get out of there real quick."
The canal was temporarily repaired by late in the day, but as much as a square mile of the town was still under water at least 2 feet deep Sunday as
ice impeded drainage.
"Our hope is over the next 24 hours to get the water out," Fernley Mayor Todd Cutler said at a briefing Sunday morning. "But we still have up to 8 feet of water in some areas. We need to keep the storm drains unclogged to keep the water moving to a wetland. We also may need to do some pumping in some areas."
Lyon County Fire Division Chief Scott Huntley estimated 1,500 people had been displaced. No injuries were reported in the town of 20,000 people about 30 miles east of Reno.
Despite heavy rain Friday, Gov. Jim Gibbons said the canal was not full when the bank failed. "This indicates to me there might have been a structural weakness over the years. Nobody knows and we don't want to speculate at this time," he said.
Rescuers in Colorado searched for six snowmobilers last seen Friday, before the storm dumped 3 to 4 feet of snow near Cumbres Pass, close to the New Mexico line.
The snowmobilers were two couples from Farmington, N.M., and their two children, ages 14 and 13, said Betty Groen, the stepmother of one of the missing men.
Donna Oney of the Colorado State Patrol said search and rescue team members were looking for the snowmobilers. The search was halted as night fell, to be resumed Monday.
Two skiers were missing 40 miles away in the Wolf Creek ski area, Oney said. Wolf Creek had reported 39 inches of snow overnight
Associated Press writers Juliet Williams in Sacramento, Peter Prengaman in Los Angeles, Scott Sonner in Reno, Robert Weller in Denver and Kathleen Hennessey in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
Oren --
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I pondered about replying to this, it almost seems like a troll, but here goes, FWIW.
I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. Not quite the same climate as some parts of Alaska but think Montana and North Dakota and you'll be close. Winter temps at this time of year are uaually around 0 F for highs and something like -10 F - - 15 F for lows.
I live in a moderately large urban area with predominantly natural gas heat via forced air furnace. Typically most people to not have any real back up. I have never known there to be any interruption of natural gas and our electric outages are rare and short. Some people do have fireplaces, mostly for decoration, you know that 80's craze and all. I have a propane camp stove and a coleman propane lamp that I could use in a pinch but if it came to that I'd probably move into the shed :).
I don't understand the part of the question about the furnace. Firslty if you are worried that your furnace might quite it's likely time for a new one. My house is 30 yeears old and has the original furnace and we have never had a lick of trouble out of it. Of course we do have it inspected and serviced as required, before the heating season begins. You must also realize that local building codes vary from locatrion to location taking into account such things as climate. I suspect that in Sask. our insulation requirements are different from yours in IL. Likewise our furnace is sized according to the size of house and anticipated load. So really my furnace should not be "working harder" than yours regardless of temp.
Lastly, I hope the comment about "mushing to a home" was a bit facetious. I am sure you realise that service companies in Alaska, just like SK and IL use motorized vehicles and hopefully the service co. selects vehicles that meet their needs - ie 4X4 in rural areas, larege enough to carry anticpated parts and service gear, block heaters so they start in the cold etc. Why would you think that calling for emergency service in Alaska is different than any other area of the US or Canada? Sure much of Alaska is rural or remote but so is much of the contiguous US - think Montan again.

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For sure I am not a troll. My reason for post was even brand new furnaces can and do fail. It just seemed that in really cold places this has to be a concern.No heat ,no heating tech when weather is really bad cold-snow. Thought we all might be interested in how others cope. Frank
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I think some of the newer high efficiency units fail more often than the old tried and true models. Just more things to go wrong.
It makes sense to have some sort of backup to prevent freezing rather than scramble last minute. You probably have about 24 hours in most houses today before the pipes freeze. The best backup needs no electricity also.
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Frank, since you seem interested in truth, most folks in really cold areas and well away from a city, do in fact have alternatives ready to use but they wont keep the house as toasty warm as 70 degrees.
Commonly seen in older homes is the old coal furnace is still there and a small load of coal. Also seen more often is several wood fired (or pellet) stoves which may be used even not in an outage to suppliment heat. Fireplaces are also common.
In 1997 or so, a wind-ice storm took out the electric (which also takes out my gas heater) to my area for several days. I live just south of the snow line but it was 17F at night and barely 24F in day for that time. It was not pretty but we are residential area so many went to hotels and those who couldnt afford it, stayed with us and the fireplace. We had lots of wood and blocked up the kitchen and hall leading to the bedrooms and were comfy enough. We cooked with my cast iron over the fireplace.
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It's around this date when I was working in Labrador, Canada in 1982 when a wicked snowstorm hit with a deep artic low / high winds. The temperature was -100 Celcius with the wind chill. No power for 4 days. I've worked on land drill rigs / pipe fitting in northern Canada (Alberta / NWT) but never have I experianced cold like that 2-3 days in Labrador.
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Get a generator, like a Honda EU 2000, learn to manualy hook it to the furnace or boiler you have. Or a tri fuel unit. Get a wood stove installed somewhere, even in the basement. Get a Propane tank and a heater. Get real it fails , so prepare.
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I live in Northern Minnesota, and when it gets cold, life goes on. I recall the coldest winter I ever lived through. Got down to 56 below. I got up that morning and went to work like any other morning-- truck was plugged in. You drive for awhile with square tires because they are so stiff the flat spot stays for awhile. No, our heating systems are nothing unusual. Wood heat at least for backup is nice, but most people don't have a backup. Thing of it is, when it is real cold, the weather is usually pretty quiet so I never remember a power outage in those circumstances. Your furnace quits, you call any number of 24 hour service guys. If you are so far out in the sticks that there are no furnace guys, you'd probably have wood heat anyway.
It was about 15 below last night. Heck, that's nothin. The way the TV weather news hyped it, it isn't safe to go outside. But really it isn't that bad out there--the sunshine is beautiful. When I lived in Washington state, I got depressed by all the clouds in the winter-- I'll take the cold with low humidity and sunshine any day.
I'm always surprised to hear that it how cold it gets in a place like Illinois. -22f is plenty cold. I guess you get used to whatever. It's hard to imagine living in a place that gets to 120 F, or has hurricanes, or whatever. But you adapt and don't think twice about it.
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Also being from northern MN, here it was -24 below this morning and didn't get above zero all day. Didn't use a drop of heating oil though, a wood stove in the basement ducted into my furnace plenum kept the 2 story house a toasty 70+ degrees. Worked all day in my detached insulated garage / shop also heated to 80+ degrees with a wood stove and I was nearly down to my shorts. I do burn alot of firewood but I am lucky in the fact that I have all the free red oak hardwood available to me I could ever use nearby and all I have to do is to cut and gather it. I don't mean to brag but life is not bad here...........:-)
Steve
If my electricity would happen to go out, which it rarely ever does, I am certain we could remain comfortable at least in the basement for as long as it took to get the power back on. It would be only when we were not at home there could be a problem. But I do have a temp alarm plugged into my landline phone so if we were not too far away for a day or more when it was really cold I could call my home number and I would know if things were ok.
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On Sat, 19 Jan 2008 16:48:55 -0800 (PST), marson

July 4th 2007 we cooked a pig (55#) in the desert (back yard). 116F outside.
Las Vegas...Hope this year on the 4th is cooler!
Oren --
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wrote:

It will be. Weatherman is predicting only 114 this year.
It was August of '81 I was driving cross country and in Arizona we saw 123 in some small town. Passed through Vegas and it was only 110. I've seen 100+ in LV in May and in September too. I can't imagine living there.
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Most of the folks I know, have a furnace for heat, and not much of a backup plan except to call a service guy if it goes out. The lucky ones have gas stove, and matches to light it. Even on the newer stoves, often the top burners can light with a match.
Many country rural folks have wood burning stoves. A few people have alternate heat, such as kerosene freestanding heater, or propane heaters.
Some folks have a generator, to power the furnace for a couple hours.
As I get older, my resistance to cold is decreasing. Well, so's everyone when they get old. During the 2003 power cut, I used burners on my stove (piped in natural gas) and hot water in the bath tub, natural gas fueled water heater. A hot shower brings back life.
I can't comment on Alaska, never been there. I'd guess it's much the same as NY State. Some folks have backup heat, most do not.
Tonight, I did get to mush to a friend's house for a no heat. It was plus 30, but I've been sick for a couple days and didn't really want to be out in the cold. Lucky me, the heat works in the service van.
--
Christopher A. Young
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most folks have no preparations, beyond expecting the government to take care of them. however katrina proves we can depend on government, when a real disaster strikes:(
now I watched some of the presenditial debates on tv, where it was stated a nuclear attack on the US by terrorists is very likely, like 60% chance over the next 5 years.
yet civil defense never came up, and a nuclear attack here wouldnt kill our entire country. the first hand effects mat kill everyone near ground zero, but a 100 miles away panic looting etc is likely the biggest danger......
yet no appareent plans, just like new orleans and katrina, a not unexpected event.....
we keep some extra food, bottled water, spare propane tanks, a bullet heater, and a emergency generator, ands a car inverter. no doubt its not enough, but far more than most people........
one day we will look back at lack of prepardness with shock we were so stupid.
incidently in many areas public buildings like schools have emergency generators and can be used as warm places in true disasters
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