Winter, like taxes and death, is inevitable.  What if power outages coincide with heavy snow?  The wise homeowner like the smart entrepreneur prepares for such emergencies while the sun shines, but what if you are not prepared on that cold day?  Loss of electricity does not have to mean loss of heating in homes with a baseboard hot water (gas or oil fired) system.  Such a system does not need a lot of electricity to run the water pump and electronics.  What if you could supply, just enough power from an alternate Electrical Plug Connectionsource?  Your car battery for example. 
My freezing neighbors all had 2 cars in their garages…

You don’t have to have a professional engineer’s license or an engineering degree to come up with simple solutions.  What if you had a neighbor, friend, or coach who has solved just this problem?  There is little that is truly new, in life or business.  Smart entrepreneurs are always seeking out the experts and the ideas that can take them to the next level of success.  Some people I know actually lit their gas barbecue indoors to keep their pipes from freezing, a fairly dangerous solution that shows how desperate the situation was.

My solution was easier and safer. Heating comes from burning fuel (gas or oil) rather than electricity.  If yours is a forced hot air system, a heat pump or electric baseboard heating, then my solution might not be right for you.  Consider getting a backup generator; just remember to keep it in working order so it can kick in when you need it.

If you have a baseboard hot water system like mine and the mercury goes into freefall, and the power lines come down, then consider this; simply use your car as the generator to supply power to your heating system.  You will need a power inverter, the 800 to 1200 watt type that clips onto your car battery.  You can get these in most home centers and department stores for less than $100.  Most heating systems draw less than 500 watts and are hard wired into your electrical panel.  Open up your main electric panel, (this is the part that you should get a licensed electrician to do for you) and put a cord on the heating system supply wires with a standard electric plug.  You can make this a permanent fix with a dedicated outlet, powered by the heating system breaker and permanently plugged into that outlet.  Ride out the storm in comfort by plugging your new heating system plug into the power inverter on your car via an extension cord.  Make sure you don’t run your car out of gas.  As long as you leave your engine running (outside of course), don’t max out the inverter’s power rating, and plan to give it a rest every few hours, you should be fine.  

Special challenges, call for special solutions, but in business it is the chronic problems and everyday frustrations that call for coaching and cooperation.  An objective expert on your side, to remind you of the importance of details and even sometimes the simple connections that make a profound difference.  Do you remember this rhyme where small things can have big consequences?

For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

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This originally appeared in my February 2013 Newsletter.