Generate your own backup

Electrical outages have been on the rise since 2009 as a result of a spate of heat waves and natural disasters. Just ask the 1.3 million folks who recently lost power in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

Solution: Buy a portable generator to ensure you won't be left in the dark -- or stuck with costly hotel bills and a refrigerator full of spoiled food -- in the next storm.

A 6,500- to 7,000-watt generator should give you enough power to run the fridge, the washer, a TV, and a few lights, says Ryan Emerson of East Hill Electric in Eau Claire, Wis.

Top pick: Generac 6,500-watt portable generator.

Use any leftover cash to stock up on gas; 10 gallons will buy you about a day of power.

  @Money - Last updated September 21 2012 02:00 PM ET
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