The Financial Cost of Power Outages


It’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in 2020 (Hurricane Laura notwithstanding), but it’s worth knowing exactly how much damage Mother Nature can inflict upon your home with a power outage – and what you can do about it.

U.S. homeowners may not want to dwell on the topic (after all, who looks forward to a blackout?), but power outages can leave household budgets in tatters, as well as leaving the house in the dark.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, power outages cost American households about $150 billion annually, and at the height of hurricane season on the East Coast, about 3.5 million Americans can expect a loss of electrical power in their homes.

More specifically, U.S. homeowners can expect the following big ticket items when the lights go out, according to data from Briggs & Stratton Corp, a manufacturer of back-up power generators.

Service Cost

Full-service hotel - $150 per night.

Removing household mold - $3,000.

Basement flood damage - $21,890.

Tossed refrigerator food - $200.


Additionally, the U.S. Department of Human Services says that basement and appliance repairs, spoiled food, and extended hotel stays are the most common costs incurred by homeowners during and after a power outage.

Being in the back-up power generator business, Briggs & Stratton obviously wants you to buy a generator. Actually, it’s not a bad idea. Power generators can reduce or eliminate the costs of a blackout cited above.

A small back-up generator, which can light up parts of (but not all) of a home, can be had for as little as $2,500, according to A medium-sized unit, which can provide much-needed heat to most of the home on cold nights, costs between $4,000 and $10,000.

A large unit, which can heat and light an entire home, costs between $9,000 and $15,000.

Sure, that’s a lot of cabbage, but eliminating the cost of a dead sump pump, which can lead to basement flooding, and household mode, can make a generator well worth the cost.

“A homeowner can incur greater costs from a single prolonged power outage than from investing in preparation measures, such as installing a standby generator system before an emergency occurs,” Briggs & Stratton Standby Power stated in a research note. “A standby generator protects a home’s appliances from losing functionality when utility power is knocked offline and gives families peace of mind after a hurricane or strong storm.”

Even if that “peace of mind” costs you $5,000 or $10,000 for a new generator, it’s a good investment from homeowners, especially those in the traditional path of major hurricanes.

In fact, it could save you easily twice that amount when Mother Nature comes barreling through your neighborhood.