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Prepare your home for brownouts

By Cassie Burton, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 29--DECATUR -- As temperatures heat up, sunblock, cotton clothing and finding an air conditioned place seem like a no-brainer.

However, many don't consider what effects the heat could have on the inanimate aspects of a household, specifically, air conditioning and television.

In an April survey conducted by Harris Poll, 44 percent of homeowners said they had experienced a brownout in the past year, and only 17 percent of homeowners protected their air conditioning, heating and furnace units.

The poll was conducted for Intermatic and also examined homeowners awareness of brownouts, which are temporary interruptions of power in which electrical power is reduced due to high demand, storms or other problems in the system.

Higher incidence of repair or replacement for air conditioning units subsequently occur during the summer months.

"Even if the effects are not immediate (referring to effects of brownouts), the excessive heat can deteriorate the chemical makeup of the refrigerant in your air conditioner and reduce the A/C compressor life significantly," said Brian Lamberty, product marketing manager at Intermatic, which makes a compressor-protecting device.

An indicator of a brownout is when lights flicker or dim momentarily during a storm. Brownouts can be more dangerous than blackouts, which are total losses of electrical power.

As temperatures heat up, consumers have options to protect their homes. If a consumer is home during a brownout, King Lar's Dave White suggests shutting off the air or electronics completely until weather conditions subside. When hit by a lightning strike and facing irreparable damage, White said the outlook isn't necessarily bleak.

"If it gets hit with lightning, whether it's running or not running, there's nothing you can do about that," White said. "We deal with a lot of home insurance companies, and depending on your deductible, most customers have pretty good luck (on an affordable replacement)."

While air conditioning units are often the electronic appliances most at risk, other major appliances, such as televisions, should not be overlooked.

Different plugs and protectors can prevent a television from sustaining long-term damage similar to that of air conditioning unit, and costs can vary. Art Warner of B&C Television said that an extra amount can go a long way.

"Typically, what hurts televisions the most is when the power comes back on after a brownout," Warner said. "The backup power supply bar is a little more expensive than a plug bar or surge protector, but they have power backing so if power goes out, the stuff connected to it stays on long enough to turn off."

For Clients with Prostate Cancer

cburton@herald-review.com -- (217) 421-7963

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(c)2014 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

Visit the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) at www.herald-review.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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For Clients with Prostate Cancer