I decided not to get the $7,000 generator for my home.
Why I'm not getting the generator
It wasn't the upfront cost...I more or less expected that price range. Believe it or not, it was the $475 charge quoted me for annual maintenance.
Sure, I could probably "afford it," but I didn't get to where I am today without being frugal and carefully weighing big ticket purchases like this one.
The light bulb went off in my had after my cousin mentioned, at the tail end of our "should I or shouldn't I" conversation, that he had used a kerosene heater for years before transitioning to a portable generator, and later, a whole house generator like the one I'd been considering.
I decided to more thoroughly research kerosene heaters, and I liked what I read. A nearly 100% efficient fuel source, unlike my top-line oil furnace which is just 83% efficient. Very quiet. A compact, 22-lb DuraHeat kerosene heater could warm my entire house quite quickly! I was somewhat amazed.
Vague fears of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning had caused me to avoid even considering using one, but after reading Amazon product reviews in great detail, I ordered one online, along with a carbon monoxide monitor for the basement (i already have 2 detectors upstairs).
Since any kind of burning fuel will consume oxygen, you just need to crack a window to ensure good air flow (and no carbon monoxide poisoning). If you have a drafty house, you might not need to crack a window. My basement is fairly drafty under the door to garage, but I will set up the monitor anyway, so instead of merely sounding an alarm if there's a problem, I can see at any time what the carbon monoxide levels are on the LCD display. I also have a small window I will crack open near where I will put the heater, which will sit on a concrete floor.
It has an auto off feature if it's accidentally knocked over.
The only hassle will be filling up the tank, which they recommend you do outside because upon start-up, there may be a minute or so of stinky smell. So I'd have to carry the roughly 22-pound heater from basement into attached garage, where I'd start just outside the garage door, let it run a minute or so, then carefully carry it indoors again.
And since I would only plan on using it during a power outage, I could be trying to fill up the heater in the dark, or with a flashlight, which could be a bit tricky.
Unfortunately, I do have a step down from the basement to garage, but otherwise, it could be done. I do routinely haul 44-lb boxes of cat litter home from BJs. That's about the most I'd want to lift.
My cousin suggested filling the heater only about one-quarter full outside so it's not too much heavier when I bring it back in the basement, at which time I would fill it completely.
My cousin, who is VERY long-winded, was actually extremely helpful because his habit of explaining things in great, excruciating detail, which normally makes me impatient, was very informative for someone who has had little exposure to things like alternative fuels and how they work.
I feel a lot more comfortable now after our conversation, which confirmed much of what I'd read in customer reviews of the heater I just bought. He even said he ran the heater overnight while he slept, and when he went off to work, 2 things I would not do.
the only other caveat to remember is that kerosene fuel does not store well long-term, so I would plan to buy fresh fuel around October, before late fall storms roll around, and then in April, when I felt the coast was clear as far as future storms, I would just burn up the rest of any remaining fuel i had. It actually would be more efficient and cost less than my heating oil.
So yeah, using a kerosene heater would not be a PERFECT solution to the power outage problem, in that the house would still be dark at night and the fridge could not be opened, etc, but it would ensure my pipes would stay toasty warm, as would the rest of the house.
And I started thinking about how many other ways I could use that $7,000 investment. Finally, just knowing I'm not at the complete mercy of the electric provider (Eversource) as to when power is restored is a truly empowering feeling (pun intended).
So when you consider the kerosene heater is a FRACTION of the cost of the generator, it's a slam dunk for me. My total outlay for the kerosene heater, 2 fuel cans, a siphon, and the carbon monoxide detector, is less than $200 vs $7,000+. Of course, there's the cost of the fuel itself, but it's nothing inordinately expensive and you can purchase it many places, apparently, including gas stations. I never really noticed before.
Now that I've totally bored you with the minutiae of my decision-making process, I'll move on to other things.
The one thing I like about my job...
Since I don't have to be at work til 10:30 am, I get up at my normal time (at this time of year, 6 or 6:30 am) and make good use of my limited free time.
I've gotten into the habit of doing a 1/2 hour walk around the block here during this time. This is an excellent thing since I also ALWAYS go for a 1/2 hour walk during my lunch break at work. I consider this essential for my sanity and it's also a really good idea to stretch my legs.
So I've basically DOUBLED my daily walking routine to 1 hour a day. I track my exercise using supertracker.usda.gov and I'm hoping it could help me with some weight loss.
However, I really don't like walking much when it gets below 30 degrees, like it is this morning, but overall, having the extra time in the morning is really extremely helpful.
I've used this little bit of extra time in other ways, including my Wednesday morning trips to the landfill (which lets me avoid having to go there on crowded Saturdays), vacuuming the house and heck, not feeling like I have to spring out of bed at the crack of dawn if I stayed up a little late the night before.
I am really hoping they don't ask me to work tomorrow (Saturday). I have much I'd like to do, and it can't all be done Sunday.
I got another debit card ($10) from an electric company I had problems with. Contacting the state regulatory agency promptly fixed the problem, but I am not doing business with them, so sending me gift cards after the fact, to someone who will not be returning to you as a customer, is sort of dumb. It's a shame they couldn't process a new, discounted rate they advertised on the state's website. That's all it was all about. But I will apply the gift card toward groceries.
An about-face: no generator
I decided not to get the $7,000 generator for my home.