Some Lessons of Sandy

Hurricane Sandy (Or Super Storm Sandy if you prefer) has come and gone. Like most of New Jersey, we lost power for 13 days. Unlike many poor souls, we were lucky enough to have no damage to the house or real damage to the property.

This is partly luck and partly where we live…we are not in a flood plain, nor near a tidal river nor near a barrier island.

But this is not a land use blog. This is one that extols the value of really insulating your home or business and having some simple, but appropriate technologies on hand to survive a disaster.

For the time that we had no power we also had no heat. All was not lost. One of the reasons that we bought this house is that it has perfect southern exposure. After the storm, when it was sunny outside, the house temperature would rise to about 68 degrees by mid afternoon.

By the following morning, after using the stove in the evening to cook, the house would drop no more than 9 degrees to about 59 degrees.

Why? Because, the attic is insulated to R-60 and the walls are insulated to about R-19. The windows have all been replaced over the years with energy star windows and all have been caulked and sealed around the trim so that every possible leak that could be found has been sealed.


You see, insulation certainly helps to keep the heating (and cooling) bills down, but in this situation, it made a potentially intolerable situation tolerable.

What about refrigeration? A really good cooler that we bought last year after the last storm served as an emergency refrigerator. Oddly enough, this cooler relies on the same principle described above for the house. Super insulation and a super sealed system. After the snow, we used the simple principle of snow as a thermal regulator to keep the cooler even cooler (I couldn’t resist).

So what is the point here? Sustainability practices can also mean survivability and the ability to shelter in place during an emergency. Not only that, but in the end, a super insulated building will lower heating and air conditioning bills and keep you more comfortable.

My best wishes to those who have really suffered. I hope that you are on your feet soon.


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