Extreme Measures For Frigid Temps
Here in my little piece of Texas we experienced the most frigid temps in recorded history. The low temps weren't the issue, it's how long it lasted.
Most of the time we hover between 50-60 degrees in February. It's always a crapshoot because temperatures don't hold steady until mid March. During January through February temperatures fluctuate wildly, but they never stay cold for long.
This year, we had a week and a half of very cold weather. This past week was especially painful because we had rolling blackouts, never having power for more than 20 minutes at a time.
ERCOT claims that had they not ordered the rolling blackouts that the system would've suffered a catastrophic collapse. On the east coast of Texas, energy is ministered by a smaller, private company that beefed up their grid before the severe weather showed up. ERCOT handles the rest of Texas.
Texas Governor Abbot has called for an investigation on ERCOT. My bet is that it came down to money and they didn't want to pony up. It's an interesting aside that five members on the board of ERCOT don't even live in Texas.
I hope the investigation ferrets out the rats.
Anyway, back to our 10 days of misery. Without power we couldn't warm the house. The inside of the house couldn't rise above the 50s. I started a fire the moment I got up and we kept it stoked all day long. I'm glad now we split and hauled wood before the worst.
No mail for 10 days. No internet since the provider couldn't get enough juice to power his backup batteries. Luckily, we didn't lose water like other people did.
Daytime was the hardest for all of us, including the outside animals. Despite dressing in layers and sitting next to the fire we could not get warm. Sitting there in the cold and dark gave us a list of things we want to change or improve for the next time Mother Nature gets spiky.
- Generator transfer switch. Our generator couldn't be hooked up because the power kept cycling off and on. Our first order of business once this is over is to hire an electrician to put in a transfer switch so we could run our generator directly without feeding into the grid if the power came on.
- A wood stove. Wood stoves are more efficient conductors of heat than fireplaces. We're discussing now about adding a wood stove inserted into the fireplace. I'm on the fence about this. The chances of us having another bitter winter like this could be years away, but I'm willing to look into it.
- A new alarm system. With the power in a perpetual loop of on and off, our alarm system went berserk and started chirping or shrieking at all hours of the night. I was ready to tear out the wiring with my teeth! It's time to replace it with something newer.
- More plastic sheeting or clear tarps. We could've kept in more heat if we had hung plastic over the windows or in the back breezeway lined with wall-to-wall screens. We thought we had enough, but we used all the tarps we had for the goats.
- The animals. The chickens were fine, Greg designed the coop to handle freezes, but we almost lost the goats. Despite the extra tarps and wood panels, we had to go back on the worst day and drape more tarps under the rafters to trap more heat. We also added a radiant heater, but without a constant power supply it only gave them minimal warmth.
Surprisingly, the only ones who didn't mind the bitter cold were the dogs. Maybe because they knew they could always come in at any time, but they frolicked outdoors like it was a holiday. Weirdos!
Since I tend to look on the bright side, the one good thing about this brutal weather is that insect pests should be less invasive this year. I doubt it killed off scorpions but I'll be glad if it killed off other detrimental garden pests, fleas and ticks.
Only time will tell which of my outdoor plants survived. I just planted many of them last year too. :sigh: I covered what I could, but I checked one bed during the freeze and even with protection it didn't look too good.
One last tip, especially if you have kids. Build an indoor tent. It doesn't have to be anything more elaborate than four chairs with a blanket over the top. What you're doing is trapping heat. The kids (or you) will be comfy and warm.
If you've been caught by unusual cold this year, I hope you and your home weathered it without too many problems. Now that everything has thawed, it's leak patrol. We're going to check every pipe indoors and out for leaks. It'll probably be hard to do since the snows have melted and there's water everywhere, but that's the job du jour.
How's your winter coming along?
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