Today’s blog post is sponsored by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). All opinions are my own.
The lessons we learned from Uri, and why being environmentally conscious doesn’t need to break your budget.
My husband and I moved to Texas 14 years ago to get away from the snow in Utah. Austin promised pretty much no snow, except a rare occurrence maybe every few years that would quickly melt away often that same, or the very next day.
My kids had seen snow twice in their lives. Jayda (pictures above in her first time in snow) loves it. Our youngest, Lee Lee (in my husband’s arms below), had never seen it. So when an early winter storm blew through in January of 2021, my kids were pretty pumped to make snowmen and have a snowball fight. It was all fun and games, until the power went out.
In February, Winter Storm Uri blew through with a vengeance
It again wreaked havoc not only in our community, but in the entire state. The storm devastated the state’s electrical grid. We were lucky to have intermittent power for a few days – it was worse for many others who were without for days or even weeks. Thankfully, we have propane, so we were able to find warmth huddling by our propane-powered fireplace to try to stay warm.
You may not know this, but propane appliances work even when there isn’t any electricity. That’s because propane is on-site, like it is at our home. We didn’t realize this when the electricity initially went out, but we could still use our stove and water heater. It was a blessing to have the ability to cook my children’s favorite meal, spaghetti, during a statewide disaster. And the water heater quickly warmed our family when we took periodic showers. When the power did come back on, our propane-powered furnace quickly warmed our home and family.
That whole experience was eye-opening for my family
Well, at least for my husband and me. When we ask the kids what they remember about it, they say it was fun because we got to camp in the living room. But it made my husband and I start to look into how we want to prepare for the next disaster. And we aren’t alone, over 60 percent of Texans doubt the electric grid in our state would survive another big storm, according to a PERC survey.
We have discussed integrating a new clean-energy option like solar alongside our current one–propane–to aid in the demands from our electrical grid.
Previously we’d been heavily leaning towards solar panels. Having paid-off our home and loving the idea of having the least amount of bills as possible, living “off the electric grid” sounds appealing. But after doing our research, we decided it wasn’t right for us. We learned if there’s snow on the panels, the power to our home would be impacted. And, unless we invested in a power wall to store the captured electricity, power captured by our solar panels would feed back to the city grid (not actually powering our own home). All of that adds up to tens of thousands of dollars (about $30,000 by our estimation with a brand we were considering). Our electricity bill isn’t that high because so many of our appliances run on propane. The option of solar did not add up (if any when you consider how long it’ll take to pay itself off).
Realizing this led us to consider investing in a backup power solution
If having backup power in case of emergencies is our goal, a less-expensive option than investing in solar panels for us, is to consider is a standby whole home generator. And using propane to power that generator just makes sense for us. Propane standby generators supply supplemental electricity in as little as 10 seconds after an outage. Plus, propane doesn’t degrade over time, like diesel or gasoline, making it an ideal standby power source. And because propane is considered a clean fuel by the EPA, we are still achieving our goal of being environmentally conscious. Propane-fueled residential standby generator sets produce 25 percent fewer emissions to deliver the same energy services as grid-supplied electricity.
As I research propane further, I’ve learned renewable propane is made from a mix of waste residues and sustainably sourced materials — including agricultural waste products, cooking oil, and meat fats. Renewable propane can be used to fuel all sorts of things, like vehicles and can support backup generators. Propane is a clean, reliable, and affordable energy option that reduces carbon emissions right now. And the abundance of propane and growth of renewable propane mean it can be used now and for generations to come.
We all held our breath this year when we had another freeze in Texas. Though we didn’t lose power this time, it’s still something I think about often. And our family wants to be prepared for the next emergency. Cause let’s be real, it’s not if, it’s when.
I’ll keep you posted as we research and choose a standby generator for our home. Of course, they’re in high demand right now, but I can’t wait to feel even more prepared and self-sufficient.