Big Problem #1 = heat
The first thing that comes to mind, and what was rolling around in my head and eventually turned into this blog post, is heat. Right now we have no way to heat our house without our furnace or, at least, an electric-powered infrared space heater (which is really cool [er, hot] but not relevant right now). If for any reason we don't have access to gas or electric, we will get cold. Fast. I believe our furnace relies on electric power, too, so even if we still have gas, we don't have heat. But hey, how often do we have power outages? Oh... yeah, often. Right. But not extended power outages! Surely that will never happen! Oh... um... fine.
What are our options here? Well, we have a chimney, but it's been walled over in our house. Also, the chimney itself is in fine shape, but there is no lining or anything--it's just brick. So one of the most obvious options would be to have the chimney lined ($2500), access the chimney on the first floor, and install a wood stove (woodstove = $500-1000; guestimate for the construction = $1500). Naturally, this creates some new problems:
- the fridge in the kitchen butts up against the wall that houses the chimney. Now, in fairness, if we're in no-electric-world, a functioning fridge won't be much of an issue. But I expect that we'll at least have electricity for some time, and that time will overlap with periods where we would like to use our stove. And even if we don't use the fridge with electricity, we might still use it as an icebox, or for "cooler" storage. So the fridge might need to be moved, or at least insulated around; that's more money/remodeling.
- A source of wood. Okay, now, in fairness, I personally manage over 300 acres of classified forest for my job, so I could probably kill a day or two with some friends thinning trees. But really, that should stay here on the property of my employer (even if I offered to pay, they'd probably prefer to have the wood, since they have a biomass heater themselves). We do live in a wooded area, so I expect we could find a source, but we certainly don't have one right now, and nothing particularly nearby.
- Type of fuel. Maybe it would be better to get a pellet stove? I mean, damn they're cheap. Except... where the #$*% would I get pellets once The End Is Nigh? Okay, maybe no pellet stove.
Big Problem #2 = cooking
Okay, so the connection between problem #1 and #2 is pretty obvious. Unlike heating, we do have a few ways of cooking in the absence of gas or electric. We have a camp stove, to start with, which is a good short-term solution. We can cook for a few days or even a few weeks on that. There are also rocket stoves, which I've not made yet, but think I could, and we can cook over those. (Hey! Rocket mass heaters! That could also be a heating solution! Hmmm... will mull that over.) There are also solar ovens, which we could use in the summer and MAYBE in the winter here (big ole maybe). These are all great, but have some problems:
- Other than the camp stove, we don't actually have any of these things (yes yes yes, I do see those things over there on my To Do list, why thank you for noticing).
- The time we're most likely to lose power in a short-term fashion is the winter; all of the above cooking items must be used outside for health and safety reasons, and in some cases (solar oven) may not work for crap when it's cold. We need a way to cook when it's cold that won't cause us to get frostbite or die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Okay, those are some thoughts. Probably more thoughts to come. I spend a lot of my time thinking.