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Could Your Home Withstand a Natural Disaster?

Extreme weather can strike during any season, putting life and property at risk. Wise homeowners make sure they prepare in advance so their homes have a better chance of surviving disaster. The good news is that many of the steps that help disaster-proof a home also serve to make it more energy efficient.

Do what you can to help your home and belongings make it through the next big storm:

Use Surge Protectors: You spent a lot of money on your electronics, so why leave them vulnerable to a sudden power surge due to a lightning strike or disruption in the power grid? If you have advance notice that a storm is coming, you should unplug unnecessary devices, but sometimes disasters arrive without warning, so make sure everything goes through a surge protector, or better yet, an uninterruptible power supply.

Solar is Your Friend: One unfortunate result of extreme weather can be power outages that last for days, even if your house doesn't suffer a direct strike. Be prepared with solar panels so you can get by before the power comes back. Note that most home solar setups are tied into the power grid and therefore won't power your house independently if the rest of the electricity is out, but some systems do allow you to charge a battery directly so you can keep the lights on. Another option is to keep a generator on hand for emergencies. They aren't as eco-friendly as solar power but don't rely on the sunlight for fuel so tend to be more reliable.

Walls Matter: The latest in building wind-proof houses is using insulated concrete forms, or ICFs, to make a mold for quick and easy concrete construction. Not only are concrete walls far stronger than wood, making them more likely to survive extreme winds, they are much more fire resistant than standard construction as well. What's more, concrete usually costs a bit more than wood framing, but over the life of your house you should see big energy savings. The superior insulation provided by the concrete walls and foam molds means you spend less for heating and air conditioning. Estimates range from a few hundreds dollars per year in savings to as much as an 80 percent reduction in heating costs. You can also find cheaper insurance rates for concrete houses than for wood.

Let the Experts Help: Have a trusted professional inspect your house to make sure that your roof and foundation are in good shape and your HVAC and electrical equipment is all functioning correctly. You can resolve any issues in advance to increase your chances of weathering a bad storm, and if disaster never does strike you still know you made a good investment. Call your local Mister Sparky for a check of your electrical system and any necessary repairs as a part of your disaster preparedness plan.

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