What could possibly go wrong? With that tongue-in-cheek question, a GBA reader named gstan wonders where money is best spent in a season when the threat of power outages looms large.
“As I write this, the news headlines are all power outages and deaths caused by those outages (all a result of unanticipated weather conditions),” gstan writes in this recent Q&A post. “Murphy is once again right: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time. It’s Christmas, the coldest weather in 50 years sweeps across, the power grid goes down in various States from Texas to Maine—heat pumps, all electric devices (not battery powered), even gas-powered furnaces controlled by electricity all go down.”
This leads gstan to a central question: Does it make more sense to spend money on the latest high-tech devices and gadgetry, or on adding more insulation when designing and building a house.
“It’s actually difficult to find many scenarios where better insulation is likely to fail,” gstan says.
That’s where we start this Q&A Spotlight—more money for hardware and equipment, or more money upfront on insulation?
Actually, we need both
Ohioandy doesn’t think it’s an either-or question for people living in colder parts of the country.
“Adding more and better insulation can’t be done without also relying on high-tech powered gizmos to help us actually survive in that cozy shell,” he says. Survival, let alone comfort, relies on ventilation, windows, lighting, and heating, and a lot of that can’t be accomplished passively.
“But yeah,” he adds, “resiliency is a top-of-mind concern for most of us here, and this bomb cyclone exposes one set of weaknesses.”
Power outages rarely affect the whole grid
Notwithstanding the fact that most power…
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