Blizzards, ice storms, and powerful winds will strike this winter. It’s impossible to predict just where they’ll hit, but anyone might need to endure cold nights without electricity until utility workers restore power.

Don’t be caught in the cold.

People can survive a few cold days in relative comfort by piling on layers of clothes or snuggling under thick quilts at night. But, even the most well insulated house will gradually cool as soon as a power outage shuts down the furnace. Eventually pipes will freeze, causing enormous damage as water squirts on carpet, furniture, books and electronics. In fact everywhere!

Will your heating system work without electricity? Find out before a blizzard leaves your family in the cold.

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If your heating system depends on electricity, now is a good time to install back up heat.

Two ways determine whether the furnace will work. The best is to call your local heating company and ask. Or, turn off the circuit breaker that feeds power to the furnace and give it a try. It probably won’t work. So, get to work protecting your home, furnishings and family.

Winding Pathways encourages homeowners to eliminate the risk of freezing pipes by taking precautions before cold weather arrives. Probably the best strategy is to invest in insulation and to replace old windows that leak cold air. A well-insulated home cools more slowly than a poorly insulated one. But having a backup heat source that doesn’t require electricity is important even in thickly insulated homes.

Electric wires are stretched between poles above ground where they are vulnerable to storms. In contrast natural gas lines are buried in the ground and are immune to storms but vulnerable to earthquakes. The chance of losing electricity is higher than losing gas.

Most modern gas and oil furnaces need electricity to work. It powers blowers that distribute warm air through ducts or circulates hot water to radiators. When a storm knocks out power the furnace shuts down.

Winding Pathways is in frigid Iowa where it can be 25 below zero with high wind for a week or more. A traditional furnace heats our home but won’t work without electricity so we’ve done two things that will keep us, and our pipes, warm.

We hired a professional to install a woodstove downstairs. And all spring and summer we cut, cured and stacked a few cords of wood. We enjoy its cozy heat even when the power works. It reduces our natural gas bill and would keep the house warm without electricity. Woodstoves aren’t for everyone. They require work to cut and stack the wood and maintain the fire. Firewood takes lots of storage space and stoves bring dust and smoke into the house. For those who don’t want to deal with wood heat there’s a better option.

We also hired a company to install two natural gas heaters. One is a fireplace insert. The other is a simple gas heater at the other end of the house. Their blowers won’t work when the power goes off but unlike the furnace they continue to provide heat without the blower. They’ll keep our home relatively warm even without electricity. Similar heaters can be fueled by propane and would be a good choice for homeowners who don’t have a natural gas line nearby. Most heating supply companies sell gas heaters that work without electricity.

When the wind howls, ice pellets rattle against the windows and the thermometer plummets it’s comforting to know that a house has a heat source that will work without electricity.

 

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