Through the years I can count major power outages on my fingers. One major outage was from a snowstorm back in the ‘60s. Our family was stranded on our farm for three days without electrical power or a telephone. It made an impression.

Dad nailed a heavy blanket over a doorway to block off the kitchen area from the rest of the farmhouse. The propane stove kept us warm. We had plenty of food. We played cards, read, and did what families did back then to stay entertained.

Looking back, the carbon monoxide levels were probably fairly high in that kitchen area because the fumes were released from the stove right into the room. Luckily homes were not as airtight back then and we survived.

Another major power outage struck our community during the weekend of October 24th – 26th in 1997. Trees suffered substantial damage from heavy snow. Deb and I made sure our home was well insulated, which helped maintain temperatures during the 36 hours we were without electricity.

That storm changed our lives substantially when Ben Woods and two of his friends stayed with us since they were also without electric power in a rental home. Ben was a friend of Stacy, our oldest daughter. We liked Ben and a few years later Ben and Stacy were married. They have blessed us with six incredible grandchildren. Power outages can also have good side effects!

The next unforgiving snowstorm or power outage may be just around the corner. It could be this winter because the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a colder than normal winter.

I’ve also been informed by a well-respected outdoorsman the brown or orange stripes on the Wooly Bear Caterpillar are thicker this year and legend indicates this is another way to predict a colder winter! The Farmer’s Almanac is still my first choice for weather predictions.

Regardless of how severe winter will be, we can be assured to have some cold and blustery temperatures. That’s something we can always count on, so it’s best to be well prepared to reduce the risks.

The most important thing to do is to make sure your existing heating system is well maintained. That increases your odds it will operate through the winter. I believe John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical has the best service maintenance agreement available.

Alternate heating sources make sense too since a typical furnace needs electricity to operate. An example of an alternate source of heat is a wood-burning stove. Wood burning fireplaces are OK, but most use considerably more makeup air and can cool the inside perimeter with infiltrated air. At the same time lot can be said for the ambiance of a wood-burning fireplace. The Cracker Barrel restaurant has one of my favorite wood-burning fireplaces.

How about a solar-supplied Lennox heat pump? It’s possible to use the sun to heat your home with this method. There are Federal rebates available for solar use. With the rebates, a solar system is still slightly more expensive than a standard system, but there is a value in the alternate source backup.

Lennox has another product that can provide peace of mind and save energy. The Lennox icomfort Wi-Fi thermostat can notify your HVAC contractor or you if your heating system fails or is having difficulty keeping up. The Lennox comfort thermostat can send a message to your I-phone or computer. It can also be used to adjust temperatures while away from home. It’s an ideal thermostat to use for a remote property or while you are away from home.

Is your car ready for winter? Make sure your vehicle anti-freeze has been adjusted to be safe at low temperatures and your tires will work well in icy or snowy conditions. It’s good to keep a blanket and flashlight in your vehicle. Get those garden hoses unhooked and everything outside drained to prevent freezing.

We can count on increases in local natural gas and electric utilities. The best preparation for a cold winter is to replace existing heating and cooling equipment with quality high efficient equipment. Just like a new car, the odds are new equipment will be much more dependable and will run more efficiently. Speaking of cars, if you could compare a car to your furnace, it would travel 90K miles each year. How many “miles” does your furnace have on it?

Hopefully, you will be well prepared for cold weather. If not call John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical to fix your frozen pipes and heating equipment!

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