Only two out of ten (22%) U.S. homeowners protect their major appliances from brownouts and other power quality issues despite the fact that nearly nine in ten (87%) understand that a brownout can damage these same major appliances, according to a new study conducted for Intermatic by Harris Poll. As temperatures heat up and the potential for brownouts increases in many parts of the country, homeowners need to protect appliances such as air conditioners, furnaces, refrigerators and washing machines to avoid costly damages.

Intermatic commissioned Harris Poll to aid business decisions, to conduct a study to better understand consumer awareness of the impact of brownouts. The online poll was conducted from April 25-29, 2014, among 2,026 adults ages 18 and older.

“Most people don’t think twice about plugging a $200 television or $800 computer into a surge protector to ensure they are protected from transients and surges. However, expensive systems like central air conditioning units, which would cost thousands of dollars to replace, sit completely unprotected from surges, brownouts and blackouts,” said Brian Lamberty, Product Marketing Manager, Intermatic. “We were alarmed to find that 86% of homeowners are at risk of incurring significant replacement costs because their air conditioning units are not protected from power surges.”

Key findings include the following:

  • 44% of U.S. homeowners said they have experienced at least one brownout in the last year. A rise in average global temperatures along with more extreme storms and heat waves lead to an increased threat of blackouts and brownouts. In addition, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, many of the transmission lines that provide Americans with electricity throughout the country are at least 25 years old, making them more susceptible to power disturbances.
  • Although the majority of homeowners (84%) protect their home electronics including televisions, computers and home audio systems from power quality issues, only a mere 17% protect their air conditioners, heating systems and furnaces. Homeowners may not understand that brownouts can cause similar damage to an air conditioner as they do to a computer, so they require proper protection as well.
  • Among those who have experienced a brownout in the last year, 12% had to replace a major appliance because a brownout or power surge caused damage. If the appliance that needs to be replaced is a central air conditioning unit, for example, the average national cost to homeowners is $5,402, with most homeowners spending between $4,552 and $6,252, according to

“Homeowners and small business owners must put measures in place to safeguard expensive appliances including their heating and air conditioning systems,” said Lamberty. “Making a minimal investment in a combined surge and brownout protective device today can bring tremendous peace of mind the next time the temperatures soar, lights dim or lightning strikes.”

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Intermatic from April 25-29, 2014, among 2,026 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.