Generating Envy

The deluxe model. (Getty)

A well manicured law? Check.  Egyptian cotton sheets? Check. Four car garage? Check. Mercedes SUV, 3-Series coup, Lamborgini parked in said garage? Check.

Generator?

As the climate grows more and more unpredictable, power generators are the new hot accoutrement for suburban dwellers, according to The Times. While we may be spoiled with ConEd’s comparatively fast response when the power goes down in the city, suburbanites living in the sticks can face days on end without electricity or running water. Those with generators have been generating significant envy among their peers stuck on the grid (and in the dark). But gone are the days when whirring generators were cranked to produce a few measly kilowatts. The most recent snowstorm revealed how the next-generation of  generators  have become suburban staples, helping maintain a semblance of refined normality even in stormy weather.

In Greenwich, Conn., some chilly residents shivered while their neighbors’ mega-units (the whole-house kind that kick on automatically and emit a sound hardly louder than a cat’s purr) powered not just furnaces, washers and dryers, garage doors and electric gates, “but the mood lighting on their trees,” Leslie McElwreath, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty there, said wonderingly, impressed by her neighbor’s generator prowess (and his spotlighted trees).

We sympathize. It can be so difficult to live without the perfect arboreal atmosphere! But like most things in the sprawling urban periphery, generators don’t come cheap. As severe power outages continue to pummel the areas in wakes of extreme weather systems, however, some are considering the investment.

Power failures are like childbirth, said Marilyn Bethany, a former magazine editor who lives in Columbia County, N.Y. Her farmhouse runs on oil heat and well water.

“Each time it happens,” she said, “you swear, never again. And then, of course, you forget all about it. But the kind of generator we want costs $5,000. That’s money you really hate parting with. After the ice storm a few years ago, when we lost power for six days, I went to Home Depot to look at one. You kick it, you say, ‘Ah, a generator.’ But it’s not very sexy. Imagine all the things you could do with $5,000.”

$5000 dollars? That is hardly more than the cost of trimming the topiary for the year!

eknutsen@observer.com

Generating Envy