Posts Tagged home generator

Know How Generators Work to Prepare Financially for a Disaster

how generators workWhen disasters hit, such as the recent tornados that hit the Mid West, there’s often no time to think about whether you’re prepared financially for the situation. This makes it imperative that you consider ahead of time what you will do in those circumstances, how you will react and what steps you should take ahead of time to minimize your risk.

Spend Money to Save Money

When people look into how generators work and whether they should buy one for their home, money might come into the picture. While the initial investment required to install a standby generator might be significant, there’s something else you should keep in mind: Having a standby generator in your home might actually end up saving you money in the long run.

Why? Well, for starters, if you have a generator, you might not need to leave your home and head to a shelter in the case of a disaster. Looting can be a problem when homes are left empty, so if you’re staying behind, you’ll be able to protect your assets. In addition, being able to run a generator means you won’t go days without power in the case of a major storm, so things in the fridge won’t go bad. Plus, you will still be able to follow the weather reports through the TV or radio.

When it comes to being ready for a disaster, however, getting your important paperwork in order it’s just as important as getting your home ready and stockpiling on food and water.

How to Get Started

The first thing you should do to financially prepare you for an emergency is to select the important paperwork you want to protect. Here’s a breakdown of the most essential documents:

  • All personal documents, including Social Security card, birth and marriage certificates, diplomas and passports. If you have additional paperwork, such as military documents, those should be saved as well. If you have a will or estate planning paperwork, add that too.
  • All home-related documents, including car title, home deed and insurance policies
  • Financial documents: account information for your 401(k) or IRA, as well as any bonds or stock certificates you might own
  • Medical documents: Health insurance cards are a must during an emergency. So are prescription records, in case you need to refill essential medication for a condition

You should also have written record of all your most important phone contacts, including your doctor, a friend or relative you can call during an emergency, a vet clinic if you have pets and your insurance (both medical and car insurances). Don’t rely on the numbers saved in your phone during an emergency — you might not be able to recharge your phone or the lines/towers might be inaccessible, and then you won’t know the numbers to call.

How to Store the Paperwork

Important documents should always be stored in a fireproof, waterproof box. Unless you have tons of paperwork, you can go with the smallest of boxes, which should be big enough to store several full folders.

Waterproof plastic containers are a good second option if you have nothing else available, but keep in mind these will only serve as protection against water, but not fire. Also, always test the container in advance by submerging it under water and confirming that water cannot get inside once the lid is secure.

The Power of Electricity

When it comes to financial planning, keep one thing in mind: ATM machines need electricity to run. Once you understand how generators work, you’ll see that only major places, such as hospitals and some stores will have one in place. Chances are your local bank will not. Small grocery shops aren’t likely to have one either. While they might remain open to sell products, they won’t be able to accept credit cards if there’s no electricity.

The answer? Always keep some cash in hand. Better yet, store it along with your financial papers so you can access it quickly during a disaster. You probably don’t need a lot – just enough to buy you a tank of gas and some extra food and water if needed.

Image credit: CNN.com

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How Much Does Hurricane Season Really Cost Homeowners?

emergency power, power outageIn spite of predictions for an above-average 2013 hurricane season, it’s been relatively quiet so far. With three months left to go, however, South Florida could still be hit with a devastating storm. According to FEMA, late August and September are considered the high points of the hurricane season because of warm water temperatures that help fuel the storms. So while you’re counting your blessings that we’ve had nothing more than some wet weather so far, it might be good to consider what a major tropical storm or hurricane could cost a home without an emergency power supply.

Temporary Shelter

The U.S. Department of Human Services says that temporary accommodation for both people and pets are one of the biggest expenses during a power outage. Nearby hotel or motel rooms required at the last minute typically run at around $100 to $150 a night depending on the size, while kenneling for pets can run at $50 per pet per night. If the outage lasts for 3 to 5 days before power is restored, it could cost the average family of four with two pets around $1,500 just to have light, security, hot water and the ability to cook food. While some of this may be covered by insurance, the deductible is for your own account—as is the inconvenience. In addition, the hotel stay could be extended if there are damages to your home that need to be repaired before you can return.

Repairing Damages

Damages caused by the lack of emergency power are by far the highest expense, costing Americans some $150 billion a year according to Purdue University Energy Center’s Smart Grid initiative. Costs in this category range from around $3,000 to remove household mold caused by damp during the outage, to $20,000 or more in basement flood damage due to inoperable sump pump mechanisms. Once again some of this is covered by insurance, but you would do well to check the fine print on your policy to ensure that damages are covered if your sump pump isn’t working—for any reason.

Replacement Costs

When the refrigerator is off, your food spoils. When your AC isn’t working, the humidity gets into your closets and causes mold, which can damage your clothing and linen. Depending on the severity and duration of the power outage, you may find yourself having to replace significant quantities of these items. Insurance typically doesn’t cover much in the way of foodstuffs or personal effects, so you could be on your own with this aspect. If you have an emergency power source as a backup, however, you can ensure that none of these problems arise.

Healthcare Services

Health care is always the most critical issue during a power outage. If your household includes someone with disabilities, a patient who needs refrigerated medication or the use of electrical equipment such as a dialysis machine, an emergency power supply such as a home standby generator enables you to keep everything running smoothly. If you don’t have one, the costs involved in transporting a patient safely to temporary accommodation with the equipment he or she needs can be frightening—and these are mostly not covered by insurance.

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Why Whole Home Generators Beat Portables

whole home generatorsWhen homeowners experience a power outage, it’s often the first time they stop to consider the option of installing an emergency power supply. Don’t be tempted by portable generators; sure, they are cheaper and take less work to install, but there are a number of reasons why whole home generators are a better bet than a portable one. Here are some of the main factors you should consider before making your choice:

Safety

The safety of home generators is a primary concern. With portable generators, there’s a degree of risk involved in the continual refueling needed to keep the generator going. Most portables use gasoline or propane to operate, and gasoline is particularly volatile during handling. Both Subaru and American Honda recently issued recalls for portable generators, due to a fire hazard caused by potential leaks in the fuel hoses.

In addition, regardless of the type of fuel used, portable generators produce colorless, odorless carbon monoxide gas. This can be lethal in high enough concentrations, particularly for someone with a compromised immune system. Whole home generators don’t require refueling or complex home operation, so your safety risks are minimized.

Cost Benefit

The cost of installing whole home generators is substantially higher than portables, we know that. There are a number of benefits, however, which we believe should be taken into account when you’re making your decision:

  • Investment value – by installing a whole-home generator you increase the resale value of your property by at least 75% of the installation cost over a five-year period.
  • You might save on labor charges for installation, but you’ll pay in the long term with the numer of personal hours you’ll have to put in to starting, refueling and maintaining the portable.
  • Calculate the cost of traveling to and from your nearest gas station multiplied by the number of trips you’ll have to make to get through a 7-day power outage.

When you consider these cost implications, the higher-priced whole-home generator becomes a much more attractive proposition.

Convenience

If your power outage lasts anything longer than a couple hours, you’re going to work as hard as the portable generator does to keep it running. The gas typically lasts around 4 to 5 hours in most models, which means to keep it operational you’ll need to come home in the middle of the work day and set your alarm to wake up at 3 am. If the weather is lousy, you’re refueling the generator in the dark on a cold, wet and windy night! Besides, even if you live near a gas station you’ll need a backup supply, because if the power outage affects the whole area the gas pumps may not be working. Whole-home generators use a natural gas installation so re-fueling isn’t required.

Efficacy

There’s only so many circuits that a portable generator can power, even if you buy a big one. And of course, the larger the equipment the more fuel it uses. That means you essentially have to choose between whether to run your AC or your refrigerator, and whether to cook or keep medication at the right temperature. You usually can’t do it all. A whole-home generator starts automatically and uses clean power, so there’s no fuss, no smell and no choosing between amenities.

For an assessment of your power requirements and an estimate to install a generator to power your home during an outage, contact us to request a quote today.

 

 

Posted in: Emergency Power, Generator Safety, Home Generators, Power Outage

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Understanding How to Pick a Home Generator

Understanding How to Pick a Home Generator“20 Million people without power across the United States.”  With global warming taking its toll and causing frequent extreme weather events, this is a news headline that’s becoming commonplace. The loss of power can leave you feeling vulnerable, inconvenience your lifestyle tremendously (think: unable to go to work because garage door can’t open!), and in some cases can be dangerous to your health or safety. It’s not only bad weather that results in power outages, however. Every day, homes and businesses across the state experience minor outages caused by equipment failure, overloading of the grid or any one of a number of other reasons.

You’ve done the math. You know what the odds are of being left without power at the most inconvenient time, and that your best solution for the safety and wellbeing of your family is to install a generator. But knowing how to pick a home generator from among the multiple options available is a science on its own and you aren’t sure where to start. We’re going to demystify the process for you and help you make an informed choice.

Determine Your Needs

First, calculate how much power you need in the event of an outage. Make a list of the essential electrical items that you need to operate. These typically include:

  • Lights
  • Security system
  • Refrigerator
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Medical devices such as dialysis equipment
  • Communication equipment

 

In the warm climate of South Florida, if you have a power outage in summer you may feel your air conditioner is an essential item. Consider the worst-case scenario and determine approximately how much power you need using this power sizing tool from Generac.com.

Conduct Research

Research is important when you’re deciding how to pick a home generator. There are a variety of generator makes and models on the market, and knowing how much power you need is only half of the question:

  1. Search for home generators to find how which models offer the strength you want.
  2. Decide whether you need to power all the rooms in your house at the same time, or if you can manage with a few critical circuits. Powering the whole house is ideal but it may require a more expensive model.
  3. Find out whether the generator model you are interested in installing runs off natural gas or propane, and whether gas lines are available in your residential area.
  4. What size will the generator’s footprint be in your yard, where will you locate it and how will you fit it into your landscaping?
  5. How much noise will your chosen model make, and is this likely to impact your decision?
  6. How do the various models compare in terms of performance such as power output and run times?

The Financial Fun

Once you know how to pick a home generator, figuring out how you will fund it comes next. The “financial fun” includes comparing the prices of the different generator models, as well as what you can expect to get for the cost. Does the price include accessories such as covers or transfer switches, warranty, installation and support? What will ongoing maintenance? How will you finance the purchase – does the manufacturer offer in-house financing, or will you use personal credit to cover it? Does the final cost fit into your budget?

If you’re considering installing a standby home generator, contact us for a no-obligation quote to find out what we can do for you.

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