When you think of summertime, thoughts of beautiful weather, barbecuing with friends and family or traveling may come to mind. But according to experts, the summer heat expected this year could make for some trying times for many of us.
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center recently issued an assessment that this summer is going to be abnormally hot.
"2022 temperature outlook depicts elevated odds of above normal seasonal mean temperatures for most of the U.S., including northern and western Alaska, with the highest probabilities over the western half of the nation," the agency says in a forecast summary.
This Summer’s Forecast: Hot, Hot, Hot!
In a reliability assessment for the summer season ahead, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a nonprofit based in Atlanta, Georgia, predicted that high temperatures coupled with drought conditions are going to put significant stress on America's power grid.
A graphic from the NERC assessment shows a large swath of the country will have “insufficient operating reserves” of energy during peak and above-normal temperatures this summer.
You know what could happen when the power grid is overloaded? Blackouts.
The report from NERC puts it this way: “Expected resources do not meet operating reserve requirements under normal peak-demand and outage scenarios.”
How To Prepare for Hot Temps This Summer
Those predictions are prompting money expert Clark Howard to say it might be time for you to invest in a generator.
“I’m not trying to give you something else to worry about, but I believe in being prepared,” Clark says.
He says many of them are battery-powered and may even come with solar panels. He has a portable generator himself.
“They are available now and tend to cost in the range of $1,000 to $2,000,” Clark says. “The batteries are fully charged, and it comes with these solar panels that fold out and regenerate the power as the battery is drained.”
What Are the Top-Rated Portable Generators?
According to Consumer Reports, some of the top-rated generators sell for between $400 and $2,500. In its ratings, the website used a variety of metrics to find the best generators, including testing for noise, power quality, runtime range, ease of use and safety technology. The overall scores are based on a 100-point scale.
Before You Buy a Portable Generator, Here’s What You Need To Know
Portable Generators Won’t Power Your Whole House
There are different types of generators, including whole-house generators, portable generators, gas-powered varieties and more. Clark points out that a portable generator is not going to run your whole house, but it will help keep your household running.
“What it will run is your refrigerator and microwave and allow you to charge things like your phones,” he says. “You’re not running the air conditioner or heat in your home. All it’s doing is keeping basic systems operating.”
Watch Out for Carbon Monoxide
If you buy a portable generator powered by fuel, remember to be aware of the deadly levels of carbon monoxide that can emit from the machine. The odorless gas can be fatal in concentrated levels.
“Know the proper placement of a portable generator that runs on fuel,” Clark says. You should keep a generator outside your home and not in enclosed spaces.
A fact sheet from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) says that, for proper ventilation, make sure that your generator has 3-4 feet of open space on all sides and above it.
Properly Store Your Fuel
If your generator runs on fuel, you'll want to make sure it's stored the right way. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the fuel should be stored outside your home.
When it comes to the possibility of power outages, Clark says it’s better to be safe than sorry. He suggests that you look into buying a portable generator.
For more purchasing information, see Consumer Reports' Generator Buying Guide.
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