Friday, 16 December 2016

11:14 – I spent the morning yesterday at the dentist, undergoing oral surgery. When Barbara retired from the law firm as of 10/30/15, we elected to continue her dental insurance under COBRA. That expires in March 2017, so I wanted to get done whatever needed to be done while we were still covered for dental. Barbara is volunteering again today to get the public library moved to its new location. She just called to check on me.

It was 14.8F (-10C) when I got up this morning to take Colin out. By the time I did his after-breakfast walk an hour or so later, the temperature had skyrocketed up to 15.3F. It’s not officially winter for another week or so, but winter has definitely arrived in Sparta, NC.

I just ordered another humidifier like the one we’re currently using. The tank holds just short of a gallon (maybe 3.5L), which on high it runs through in about 12 hours. Putting two gallons of water per day into the air helps, but it’s not quite enough. When it’s really cold outside, our indoor humidity starts to drop. Even with one unit running flat-out, the humidity gets down into the 45% range, which is uncomfortable for Barbara. She likes it up around 55% to 60%, which running two units should allow us to maintain.

Email overnight from Jen. They’ve run several readiness exercises over the last couple of years, hunkering down in their home over a long weekend. They decided to run another, longer-term exercise over Christmas, starting Friday evening the 23rd and running through Monday morning the 2nd of January. They’ll have to “cheat” a bit because not all of them can take off the whole week between Christmas and the New Year. Her husband David, for example, has to cover two days that week at his veterinary practice, and her brother Jim will have to go into work for at least half-days most of that week. They’ll both be taking their lunches and thermoses with them, so it’s only a minor cheat.

They haven’t tried to do a week-long readiness exercise before, because Christmas was the only realistic time to run it and the women decided there was just too much going on over that holiday to try a hunkering down exercise. But Jen and David have made some significant improvements to their infrastructure over the last year that’ll make it a lot easier for them. They’ve installed a decent size off-grid solar setup with a high amperage true sine-wave inverter that allows them to run their well pump, basic lighting (which is all LED now), TV, and so on. They also installed a high wattage Honda inverter generator as a backup means of charging their battery bank and driving their refrigerator and freezer directly. Finally, they also did what we just did: installed a large propane tank and a gas cooktop in their basement living area, along with a small propane water heater, which feeds only the sink and bathroom in the basement living area. They didn’t replace their main electric water heater because propane is about three times as costly as electricity, and they use a lot of hot water. Still, as Jen says, that gives them hot water for showers and food-prep/dish-washing downstairs. She can still do laundry upstairs, but she’ll just have to run cold-water washes.