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    Winter Is Coming—Do You Need a Backup Generator for Your Home?

    When Winter Storm Uri—or as I like to call it, the Snowpocalypse—hit Texas back in February, leaving over three and a half million residents without power for multiple days, I was not prepared.

    I spent the first night bundled up in bed with my dog, who was there for body heat. It was 32* in my house, and even wearing every layer I owned, I was miserable. The second night, I got crafty. I found a DIY project online—a feat I was only able to accomplish after charging my phone in the car for two hours—for a “home heating hack” that claimed lighting tea candles under a terra cotta pot could warm up an entire room. Let me tell you right now—it does not.

    Unfortunately, large-scale power outages following inclement weather or other climate crises are becoming commonplace. Damage from Hurricane Ida in September resulted in power outages for over 1.2 million electricity customers across eight states. Thousands of families in southeast Louisiana had to wait more than two weeks before power could be restored to the area.

    If you’re concerned about how your family would weather a multiple-day power system failure, it may be time to consider purchasing a backup generator for your home. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some situations in which a generator can be absolutely critical and compare features of the two types of generators you can get.

    Situations in Which a Backup Generator May Be a Necessity

    Functioning electricity is kind of like good health—we don’t really notice it until something goes wrong. Having a backup generator available in case your power goes out for multiple days can go a long way toward ensuring peace of mind for you and your family, particularly in these situations:

    You Have Essential Medical Equipment in Your Home

    Many people depend on life-saving medical equipment in their home, and this equipment usually requires electricity. When Winter Storm Uri hit earlier this year, it had tragic consequences for dozens of Texas residents who were unable to access power for oxygen machines, dialysis machines, and other critical medical equipment.

    You Have Large Amounts of Food That Must Stay Refrigerated

    If you keep large amounts of food (meats especially) that must stay frozen or refrigerated, it might be worth investing in a generator. According to the USDA, a freezer will only keep food frozen at a safe temperature for around 48 hours during a power outage (if you don’t open the door). After this, you will need to dispose of it.

    You Need to Be Able to Communicate

    Reducing screen time is great during a normal day, but if you’re in an extreme weather or other emergency situation, you’re going to want to be able to communicate using your phone, tablet, or computer. Keeping these devices charged means electricity is essential to emergency communication.

    You Live in An Area Where Access to Heating is Essential

    When the temperature is below freezing outside and you don’t have power or heat available inside your home, exposure and hypothermia can become very real dangers. If you live in a colder part of the country, you know that heating your home isn’t just a luxury—it’s a critical necessity.

    Comparing Portable and Standby Generators for Home Use

    When it comes to buying a backup generator for your home, there are two main types to choose from—portable and standby. These generators vary by price, cost to install, and efficiency.

    Portable Generators

    • Power Output: 3,000-8,000 watts
    • Purchase Price: $400-$1,500
    • Installation Price: $0
    • Fuel Usage: 12-20 gallons of gasoline/day

    As the name implies, portable generators are easy to pick up and move around. You can keep them safely in storage while they’re not in use, and when a power outage occurs they’re easy to bring out and connect them to your most essential items that require power.

    Portable generators are typically powered by gasoline, so you need to have gasoline stored that’s ready to use in the event of a power outage. Portable generators are usually less efficient than standby generators.

    Standby Generators

    • Power Output: 8,000–20,000 watts
    • Purchase Price: $2,000–$5,000
    • Installation Price:$2,000–$15,000
    • Fuel Usage: 13–48 gallons of LPG or natural gas/day

    If you really want to step up your backup power game, installing a standby generator may be your best bet—but it’s significantly more expensive than purchasing a portable generator.

    Standby generators are installed as permanent fixtures of your home. If the power goes out, a transfer switch enables the generator to take over and supply power to the house. Both the switch and the generator need to be installed by a qualified professional, which can drive up the cost.

    Standby generators are usually fueled by propane or natural gas and are much more efficient than portable generators.

    Other Benefits of Getting a Backup Generator

    Did you know that installing a standby generator could save you money on your homeowners insurance? Insurance carriers often view standby generators as a threat-mitigation device. If your home’s primary power goes out while you are away, it leaves your property open to potential theft. Since automatic generators keep the electricity running, your home will still appear inhabited, which deters criminals from breaking in. You should discuss any potential discounts with your insurance provider.

    Hopefully, we’re all about to have a nice, mild winter with no statewide power grid failures. But it’s always best to be prepared!

    Click here to get a homeowners insurance quote now!

    Related Categories

    Disaster Preparedness Insurance

    Amanda Harr

    A graduate of the Plan II Honors program at UT Austin, Amanda Harr is the Content Manager for SWBC. A clever wordsmith who appreciates artful persuasion and authenticity in writing, Amanda uses a structured creative process to craft marketing strategies, develop communications solutions, and deliver top-notch content.

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