Call now

Power Outage Guide 2024

Written by Lisa Iscrupe

Edited by Jamie Cesanek

Last updated 07/26/2023

Imgorthand/E+/Getty images

Why trust SaveOnEnergy?

Learn More

At SaveOnEnergy, we work to offer accurate information with editorial integrity. Our partners do not direct our editorial content, though we may reference their products in our posts. Read more about how we make money.

Key Points

  • Report a power outage in your area to your utility company.
  • Follow the power outage checklist to keep your family safe when there is no electricity.
  • Power outages can affect your plumbing, but there are several steps you can take to prevent any problems.

A power outage and voltage fluctuations in the grid can damage electronic appliances. Electrical surges when the power comes back could ruin the internal structure of computers and other electronics. To prevent damage to your electronics, unplug important or large appliances, such as TVs and computers, as long as it is safe to do so. Investing in a surge protector ahead of time is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to safeguard them. A surge protector blocks excess power from your appliances and redirects it to the power lines or the ground. The best way to safeguard your home against voltage fluctuations is to install an entire-home surge protector along your electric line where it meets your meter. A certified electrician must complete this work.

Power outage FAQs

  • Typically, yes. A power outage should not affect water unless you are connected to a septic system that uses an electric pump. According to Family Handyman, if your toilet tank is not refilling after you flush it, “you can manually add water to the tank to flush the toilet.” However, there “may still be room in the septic tank for a few flushes, but you risk overfilling it and a nasty sewage backup if you flush too often. In an extended power outage, you’ll probably need to consider alternate waste disposal methods.”

  • Four hours is the standard length of time that food in your refrigerator is still considered safe in a power outage. Foods that reach over 40 degrees Fahrenheit should be discarded because they could make you sick due to bacteria growth.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), bacteria grow fastest in environments between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, known as the “Danger Zone.” They can grow twice in numbers after just 20 minutes. You should avoid leaving perishable food outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours and 1 hour for temperatures over 90 degrees.

  • Once your power is restored, you should reset your thermostat and your clocks.

    Sudden outages may affect your HVAC system, and your thermostat may have reset itself to its default settings or timers. This could leave you with an unpleasant surprise on your monthly electricity bill.

  • Here are resetting instructions for some of the most popular thermostats: (1) Battery flip-flop. With some thermostats, you can install the batteries backward for five seconds to reset. Then take the batteries out and put them in again the correct way. (2) Paperclip push. Many thermostats have a recessed reset button that you can push with a paperclip for five seconds. (3) Circuit break circumvention. Turn your thermostat to the “off” position, go to your home’s breaker box, and turn the HVAC system’s breaker to “off.” Turn it back on after about two minutes, then go back to the thermostat control panel and switch it to the “on” position. Finally, set the mode (heat/cool) and the temperature, paying careful attention to the flow of conditioned air.

Ready to shop for an energy plan? Let’s get you taken care of. Call:

Enter your ZIP code to get started

Are you moving to a new address?