Snow Covered Holly - Austin, Texas

My Fireplace – Austin, Texas

Things were not going well weather-wise in Austin and the rest of Texas. We are still digging out from the big snowstorm and a historic cold-snap that started on Sunday. Our power was out since early Monday morning and finally came back late Wednesday. Nearly a 3-day outage. I am mentally prepared for possible future outages. I’ve used every trick to keep the house warm enough to prevent the water pipes from freezing. I’m also dripping the faucets throughout the house.

I heard about half the houses in Austin were without power at the peak. Many are starting to lose water.

Lucky for us, the water is still running. And miraculously, we had hot water via our primitive natural gas-powered water tank all throughout the ordeal. A hot shower was one of the few civilized treats we had.

Thankfully, we also had our natural gas-powered fireplace. It’s primarily a decorative unit but kept the main room at about 50 degrees. Our house is designed for hot weather. High ceilings and wide-open spaces don’t heat very well with such a small unit.

Our second-floor bedrooms were a different story. They were in the low 40s Tuesday night. However, we made due. Five layers of clothes and six layers of blankets kept us unexpectedly toasty. I suppose it was like camping but inside the house.

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8 thoughts on “Lifeline

  1. We can relate! Just got power back this morning. Still no hot water, as the pipes to our Rinnai unit seem to be frozen. But the heat is bliss!

    Hope you stay safe and healthy!

  2. Agreed: gas fireplaces can be a real lifeline in lengthy power failures during subfreezing weather. Gas fireplace log sets are sold as decorative rather than as a heat source. But running them on the low setting (assuming good quality) can safely heat the first floor of a house for days. A carbon monoxide detector with battery backup should be used. Unlike gas furnaces, which need electricity to operate, the open flame safety pilot used in gas log sets makes them usable as long as natural gas is available.

    1. There must be gas powered furnaces with battery backed up electrical controls. It seemed rather silly to not be able to use the gas furnace even when there was no electricity. That said, this rarely occurs in Texas.

      The gas fireplace really came in handy. I’m definitely going to look into a battery powered carbon monoxide detector.

  3. As a life long New Englander, I learned the hard way to always incorporate a wood stove into my heating plans. We’ve been using wood as our main source of heat for several decades. It has it’s issues and problems, but during the 2011 “snowpocolypse” here when we lost all power and water (from a 600 ft pump driven well) for a week and were trapped at home with fallen trees across our driveway, the wood stove kept us warm and allowed unto heat snow for toilet water. As a former presidnet said, ‘I feel your pain.”

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