The electricity in Southern Colorado is particularly dependable. It rarely goes out and when it does, it’s often just long enough to require you to reset your clocks. But, disasters happen — as we have seen first hand in Southern Colorado the last two years — and everyone should be prepared for a prolonged power outage.
The Energy Resource Center has a few tips to help you prepare for a blackout.
When the lights go out, you’ll want to know you can find your way around. Having a couple flashlights handy might be all you really need. However, you can do more if you want. There are many battery-powered or battery-back-up lights that you can buy for your home, enabling you to light it up almost like you could if you had power.
Solar light bulbs and chargers have also risen to prominence in recent years as the cost of both low-energy-demand light-emitting diodes have evolved and as the cost of solar has dropped. If you worry about being out of power for a prolonged period, charging bulbs during the day and using them to light your house at night could be a good solution.
If you live in a home with well water and an electric pump, you’ll want to be sure you have enough water stored to get you through a few days in the event a power outage keeps you from being able to pump fresh water.
Your refrigerator and freezer will fail in a power outage. Keep them closed as much as possible so the inside will stay colder longer and your food is less likely to melt or spoil. Keep ice packs in the freezer and have a cooler handy for any medications or other items that are vital to your survival so you can keep them cold.
If you rely on electric baseboard heat, be sure to keep plenty of warm blankets and clothes on hand. You might also want to have a generator or battery-powered space heaters you can use to keep your pipes from freezing.
Make sure your pipes are insulated before you go into winter, especially if you rely on electric heat. Consider installing a wood-burning stove as a backup heat source.
Rooftop solar panels, contrary to what you might think, will not typically help you during a power outage. If your system is connected to the grid — as most are these days — it’s programmed to stop generating electricity when the grid is shut down to prevent electrocuting utility workers.
If you’re thinking about installing solar, find out if you can island your system so it can keep producing power for your house even during a blackout.
We perform free home energy audits and improvements for income-qualified residents of El Paso, Teller, Fremont, Elbert, Douglas, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande counties. Our services are also available for a fee to those who don’t meet income requirements.