When the lights go out, the costs can add up quickly. An average of 3.5 million Americans experience a power outage each week (a number that’s even higher when there’s a major storm). Power outages caused by severe weather cost the U.S. economy an average of $18 billion to $33 billion a year, according to a White House report. The cleanup and repair costs that result from a prolonged power outage can cost homeowners more than if they had taken preemptive measures to prepare their home for severe weather.
Power Outage Cost by Item
When preparing your home for the risk of severe weather, take note of four hidden costs associated with a single power outage:
- Spoiled Food: $160
According to the USDA, if the power is out longer than four hours, families should throw away any perishable food items from the refrigerator and freezer, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and leftovers.
- Emergency Supplies: up to $650
A survey of homeowners who experienced a power outage in the past two years found that over 30 percent needed to purchase emergency supplies, such as firewood, blankets, candles and flashlights.
- Hotel Stay: $131/night
Power outages often occur during weather extremes, at times making it unsafe to reain in the home without power to properly heat or cool it. If this is the case, families may need to seek hotel accommodations.
- Property Damage: $1,916
Property damage brings the highest hidden costs associated with a power outage, including sump pump repair, basement flooding, mold removal or theft. These costs are typically a few thousand dollars. However, serious flood claims average $34,000 or more, according to FloodSmart.gov.
Standby generators turn on automatically when a utility power outage is detected and provides the home with a seamless supply of power. When utility power is restored, the home standby generator automatically powers off. In addition to the basics such as lights and refrigerator, other common home appliances operated by a standby generator include air conditioners, heaters, electric stoves, water heaters and washers/dryers.
Installing a home standby generator helps ensure these types of costs aren’t incurred every time a storm knocks out a home’s power this summer.