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  • Ukraine and Your Gas Bill

    how has conflict in the Ukraine affected Natural Gas transport?

    Have you been following the situation in the Ukraine? Skirmishes on the other side of the globe seem far from our everyday worries, but some parts of the world are already considering possible far-reaching effects.

    At the top of the list is Europe’s energy supply. Roughly a quarter of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russian oil fields. Most of Russia’s pipeline transport routes cross Ukraine on their way to continental Europe. Though experts claim Europe’s reserves are in good shape, and fears of shortages or price hikes are premature, European newspapers like Britain’s Telegraph are already reporting increases in the price of oil and gas.

    Some of you might remember oil and gas shortages in our own country in decades past (is anybody going to own up to remembering the 1970s?). And within my own kids’ lifetime, we’ve seen energy prices fluctuate frighteningly. But along with shortages, embargoes, and depletions, we’ve also seen a fairly miraculous proliferation of energy technology. Just a generation ago, for example, the cost of solar power for consumer use was extremely high. Today, the average prepper can buy a portable solar generator for less than the cost of a laptop.

    Chances seem good that Ukraine’s troubles won’t affect your gas bill—but Ukraine isn’t the only country with troubles! Could you power your home if your utilities were disrupted? Do you have the tools you need to wash clothes, heat your home, or to cook? Have you considered storing fuel? Or maybe you’re looking into generators. Whatever your own energy solution, be sure to do your homework.

    Storms and wars aren’t likely to stop. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit in the dark!

  • Staying Toasty in Texas: No Power? No Problem!

    If you couldn't adjust the thermostat when temperatures dropped, how would you keep your home warm?

    We've been talking a lot lately about harsh winter weather; we expect winter weather each year, yet it’s still unpredictable. Icy roads, flights canceled, extreme cold, and disrupted water services are only a few of the possibilities when winter gets particularly vicious. Another example of winter trouble comes from North Texas, where the city of Jacksboro was almost completely without a natural gas supply to heat houses and public buildings for some 1,200 customers.

    A local CBS affiliate reports that liquid in the pipes caused pilot lights to go out and gas to build up in the lines. Whatever the cause, however, the result was a city-wide shutdown of Jacksboro’s gas supply. And just in time for below freezing temperatures.

    So if you weren't able to just adjust the thermostat when the temperature dropped to “uncomfortable,” would you know how to keep your home warm?

    Our article on emergency warmth includes some helpful tips for staying warm both at home and on the road. You can also find a great list of smart ways to keep a house warm without power at this wiki, and some safety considerations when using non-traditional heating methods from the NC State Extension.

    Your advice? What are your tips for staying warm without power?

    Here’s wishing everyone a safe and warm winter!


  • Europe Under Glass: Slovenia's Worst Ice Storm in History

    Europe Under Glass: Slovenia's Worst Ice Storm in History

    Chances are pretty good you have no idea where Slovenia is. I probably wouldn’t either, if I hadn’t been sent there more than a decade ago as a volunteer missionary.

    Nestled between Italy, Austria, and Hungary cuddled up under the Alps, and just kissing the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is quite possibly the prettiest little place on the planet. Similar to the climate of my native Pacific Northwest, Slovenia’s weather is typically mild.  I remember a moderately snowy winter and a slightly humid summer—but I don’t remember anything like what the former Yugoslav republic is experiencing right now.

    According to Reuters, heavy ice is responsible for Slovenia’s “worst devastation in living memory.” Back-to-back blizzards and dramatic temperature changes have created a layer of ice heavy enough to bring down utility towers and strong enough to seal cars under its thick casing. No deaths have been reported, but Slovenia’s infrastructure—including everything from public transit to ATMs—is, well, frozen. Flip through this amazing gallery of western Slovenia, completely encased in ice.


    When we think about winter preparations, we spend a lot of effort protecting ourselves from the dangers of snow and cold. But we shouldn’t forget the havoc that half a day of above-freezing temps can wreak in the midst of blizzard season—even in the US. Here are a few other examples of the damage ice has caused here in Indiana and Texas. Check those out, and then read up on winterizing your home.


    Photo Courtesy of Business Insider

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