An emergency generator can prevent many headaches when
there's a loss of electricity for more than a few hours. However, it's
important to determine what your electrical needs are, so you can select the
best one, home improvement experts say.
1 CHECK THE WATTAGE. Generators - most of which are powered by gasoline -
come in a variety of sizes and are rated by how many watts or kilowatts they
produce. For example, a small generator could be rated 2,000 to 6,000 watts,
enough to power a few lights, a television, a computer and a refrigerator.
These generators start at about $400.
2 THEY SLEEP OUTSIDE. Generators should never be used indoors because they
need to be well ventilated and should have at least 5 feet of space on all
sides. Special heavy-duty extension cords with three-prong plugs should be used
for all appliances plugged into the generator. Some generators have enough
plugs for six or seven items; others may have only two plugs.
3 REFUELING. How long a generator will work before being refueled depends
on how much wattage is being used. A 6,000-watt generator will run longer if
only 1,500 watts are being used as opposed to its full capacity.
4 COSTLY SYSTEM. Because generators run on fuel, this cost must be factored
in. One woman in Houston who was using a generator for a few days after
Hurricane Ike said she was spending $57 a day on gas to power it.
5 STANDING BY. To power an entire household without any loss of service,
the best bet is a standby generator, which kicks in automatically via a
transfer switch as soon as the regular power goes out. These generators can
cost from $6,000 to more than $12,000, and they must be installed by an
electrician. For some, the transfer switch is included; for others, the switch
must be purchased separately. Likewise, wheel kits for easy moving are not
6 CONSIDERING CENTRAL AIR. One thing to remember is that central
air-conditioning draws a lot of power, and if it's going to be used during an
outage, the AC must be considered when buying a standby generator, according to
Electric Generators Direct, which sells generators online. Standby generators
are generally best for areas where power outages happen often.
7 FLASHLIGHTS, ALWAYS.
It's also important to have emergency lighting on hand. Flashlights are
usually the first line of defense, and it's important to make sure they are in
working order and there is an adequate supply of batteries. Most flashlights
take D or C batteries.
Compiled from wire reports
Going greener with eco-friendly cork flooring
Green thinkers consider cork flooring to be eco-friendly because it's a
renewable resource: It's made from the bark of the cork oak, and the tree isn't
cut down. During periodic harvesting, the outer bark is stripped from the
trunks without injuring the trees, which live for more than a century.
Cork has been a popular flooring material in Europe for many years, but in
this country, it's relatively new. Known for its sound-deadening qualities and
durable surface, it's available in sheeting and tiles, the latter being the
easiest to install.
A flooring contractor will charge about $785 to install and finish
12-inch-square, 3/16- inch- thick cork tiles in a 10- by-12-foot room. A handy
homeowner can do the job for $625, the cost of the tiles and finish - a
savings of about 20 percent. The key to good results for any flooring
installation is a sound subfloor, which should be clean, dry and level.
You'll find cork floor tiles sold at most home centers and flooring
retailers; to find the material online, type "cork floor tiles" in a search