IF Power is Out on a Three Dog Night
The wife and I are living under the jurisdiction of a new Energy Domain: new to solar panels, new to heat pumps and new to Generac propane generators. We are not so new to power outages, and wondering about “best practices” if, say, the power is out extending into and lasting through at least one night. In winter. Which could be soon-ish.
I have learned that the whole-house generator can be switched OFF manually, so am thinking to conserve propane but keep the toilets flushing, the freezer from defrosting, cellular batteries from reaching zero, the pipes from freezing and the wife from suffering a melt down– by kicking the generator on for an hour every four.
I guess my greatest unknown is what to do about heat. We have a 31k BTU Buck gas stove in the Hanger–the timber frame room with the vaulted ceiling and gobs of cubic footage overhead that is somewhat of a challenge to heat the the most cold-natured resident’s preference. We have a small 1500W quartz space heater for heating people or a bedroom if the generator is running. And we have the heat pump. How best to use those heating assets during the theoretical (but inevitable) power outage?
An additional factor I just discovered this morning. The thermostat was on 69 but the temp at the control was 68. I wanted to boost it to 70 mostly because the Hanger stays 4-6 degrees cooler than whatever we set at the thermostat.
I didn’t think it would but it did: the electrical boost kicked in because the heat pump by itself when it is in the upper 20s outside is not capable of generating sufficient heat of two measly degrees in a reasonable time without assistance. And wow the air coming out the vents was HOT when heated with the electrical boost.
SO: Power’s out, and I want to run the generator as little as possible. When I cut the Generac on for that hour every four, should I engage the electrical assist to put as much heat in the house as possible, while using ??? more propane-generated kilowatts than the heat pump alone? Will the Generac even operate heat pump? I guess we’ll find out.
Meanwhile, the solar panels are useless if the grid is not intact; and we did not install a battery to take juice from the grid to pull from in these circumstances.
So there’s my situation, and I’d be happy to know what to expect and how best to manage our utilities until AEP reconnects us in a day or two of being without electricity. I won’t even muddy the waters here with the sense of risk that intentional ill-willed power outages might happen at more than the local level and last far longer than one caused by branches on power lines. Won’t go there. No sir.