Fifteen years ago a freak wind storm knocked out power to Cincinnati for nearly a week, and one of the first things we bought when we were able was a 3500-watt portable generator. In the following decade-and-a-half we only fired it up a couple times a year to keep the seals fresh ... until two weeks ago. This time Cincinnati was hit by an ice storm that obliterated power to nearly a hundred thousand people. So there my wife Barb and I were, in a dark house that was rapidly getting colder, but this time we pulled out Old Sparky for real.
We gassed him up, and for the next twenty-four hours--and as long as we kept him fueled--we had enough juice to run a couple of space heaters and a floor lamp (we could even unplug one of the heaters long enough to fire up the microwave when needed; which we did). Between the heaters and our fireplace there was enough to keep us relatively warm, and if the outage had kept it up, we could have shunted power to our refrigerator and upright freezer long enough our to keep from losing anything.
Moral of the story? If you live in an area with an iffy climate, you could do worse than spending a couple hundred bucks on one of these bad boys.
Thus endeth the lesson.