In the meanwhile, they brought out a self-supportive... something... on a hand truck, that's plugged in to my regular power meter. It's all encased so that I can't see what it is, but I suspect that it's a deep cycle battery and some sort of a transformer. This thing has been powering my house effectively for well over 48 hours.
So I can't help but wonder: if this stand-alone thing would power my house for 48 hours (including my central heat and air, and my range), then there must be something I can build myself to do the same thing. With an electric bill exceeding $200 every month (over $300 during the winter), I'm willing to consider just about anything!
I looked into solar panels, but from what I read online this can cost in excess of $10,000. Even that isn't unreasonable; after 4 years, it has paid for itself. But what other options are there that I'm not considering?