New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Your Home’s Electrical System
I Resolve to Have a Happier New Year with a Safe, Reliable, and Energy-Efficient Electrical System
Have you already made your New Year’s resolutions? Well, J&A South Park would like to add a couple more to your list. This year, we are including home electrical resolutions – to help ensure both a safe and energy-efficient New Year. In addition to eating healthier, exercising more and losing a few unwanted pounds, you might want to consider adding these electrical improvements to your list of New Year resolutions.
Auld Lang Syne means “days gone by.” If countless days have gone by since you last thought about your home’s electrical system, consider changing that this year. Updating your home’s electrical infrastructure is the perfect New Year’s resolution. It’s measurable, achievable and really quite important. Not only will updating your electrical system help keep your family safe, but it’ll also help you save money.
I resolve to make my home electrically safer this year.
Electrical safety in the home should be one of the most important factors of our daily living; unfortunately, it’s one that we spend very little time thinking about.
All electrical systems have the potential to cause shock, injury, fires, and death. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 50,000 fires are caused by faulty electrical systems in homes each year, resulting in about 450 deaths and 1,500 injuries. Yet, too often, we take our electrical systems for granted and even overlook basic safety training not only for ourselves but our families as well.
Here are some easy resolutions you should really keep this year:
- I will replace my extension cords. We’ve all been guilty of this faux pas. An extension cord can be particularly useful when you need to relocate an item, such as a lamp, from one room to another. However, it’s important to make sure you don’t overlook the safety hazard an extension cord can place on your home. It’s vital you take the time to carefully place your extension cords out of the way and in a safe place. More importantly, if you find yourself constantly needing an extension cord for regular daily tasks, it just might be time to think about getting an additional outlet installed.
- I will install more outlets. It’s tempting to plug in as many appliances as possible when you’re strapped for socket space, and adapters make it easy to do. But just because you can plug in extra appliances doesn’t always mean it’s safe doing it. As for those extension cords again. An easy tip is to only use one extension cord per socket and never plug an extension cord into another extension cord. That’s just asking for trouble. Consider having additional sockets installed if you regularly rely on extension cords and adapters.
- I will reset my ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. Did you know that you’re technically supposed to do this every month? Not many consumers actually do this, but a new year is a great time to put this to practice along with your other monthly home maintenance routines. You’ll find these outlets in moisture-prone areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and any other areas where electricity and water might come into contact. Simply press the test/reset button and make sure the outlets trip and reset accordingly. If they are malfunctioning, call your electrical contractor to have them replaced to reduced electrocution risk. If you don’t already have GFCI outlets in these critical areas, make sure to put this on the list of New Year resolutions.
- I will replace any two-prong plugs. Why? Put simply, two-prong outlets are unsafe. Fact is, since 1962, code says all new houses must install three-prong outlets. They help protect your home against electrical shock, electrical fires and damage to your electronics and appliances.
- I will install tamper-resistant receptacles. If you have toddlers or young children around the house (grandkids included), installing tamper-resistant receptacles is a good way to keep them safe. These electrical outlet designs have spring-loaded shutters over the slots that won’t open unless pressure is applied to both at the same time. They need less oversight than child safety covers, which have to be unplugged before the outlet can be used.
- I will have a whole-house surge protector installed. Is your home subjected to recurrent electrical surges? Is it susceptible to surges during electrical storms? Your electrical appliances and devices can be slowly compromised due to these surges, affecting both operation and life expectancy. Plus, power surges have the potential to cause sparks that can lead to a fire. This new year, why not think about installing a whole-house surge protector which only allows in the electricity your home requires and blocks any over-voltage. It also protects appliances from surges that are produced inside your house.
- I will notice the signs of faulty wiring. If you’re living in a modern, well-maintained home, you may not be able to see your electrical wiring. So how do you recognize if there’s a problem? You simply have to pay attention. For example, feel your switches as you go to turn them on or off. Are they warm? Do circuits seem to trip more and more? Do your lights flicker and dim? If you start to notice any of these glitches, it’s important not to pass them off as typical, everyday electrical issues. Call a certified electrician who can identify the cause of the issue and make quick repairs.
- I will organize that fuse/breaker box. This is a very practical resolution and can be achieved quickly if you have two people working on it together. If the breaker box is not labeled, do yourself a favor and “map your circuits.” It’s easy. Start by turning off the breaker in the top left of the access panel. Then, have your partner call out the part of the house where you just turned off the electricity. If there’s no power in the kitchen, then you know to label the switch you just pulled “kitchen.” Repeat this step with each breaker, and you’ll be able to label every circuit in your home. There’s often a place to write the location next to each breaker. If not, you could easily label them with masking tape.
Warning: Make sure it’s safe to turn off the electricity before you start this project. You’d hate to face your daughter if you shut down her computer before she has the opportunity to save her 50-page report. Just sayin’.
While you’re at it, you might want to consider having a qualified electrician replace your standard circuit breakers with combination-type arc fault interrupters (AFCIs). An AFCIs is a circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects an electric arc in the circuit it protects to prevent electrical fires. An AFCI selectively distinguishes between a harmless arc (incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs, and brushed motors), and a potentially dangerous arc (that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord which has a broken conductor).
Here’s another practical resolution worth your consideration.
Be prepared for a power outage. With the number of power outages that occur in our region, it’s wise to be prepared by keeping an emergency supply of bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, a first aid kit, medicine, and extra batteries. Don’t have an emergency kit? Make a resolution to put one together.
Also, you might want to consider investing in a standby generator. These generators are a good source for temporary power during an outage and will ensure your home never misses a beat. But before you crank it up, however, refer to the owner’s manual to confirm proper operation. Plus, make sure you use the generator outdoors and away from ventilation to avoid a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide.
I resolve to reduce my overall energy consumption
The invisible dollars we don’t see floating from our homes and out of our wallets and/or purses can be mind-blowing when we sit and break down what our home’s energy usage costs. How much could a little smart home energy tight-belt-tightening in 2019 save us? Setting a New Years’ home efficiency resolution can go a long way to saving hundreds of dollars in home energy costs.
This can be done in a variety of ways: simply turning lights out after you leave a room, unplugging and turning off electrical devices when not in use and ensuring lighting and appliances are Energy Star qualified. Whatever you do, remember you can also call on the experts at J&A South Park to perform an energy audit for your home to ensure your electrical system is operating at the utmost efficiency.
Here are a few more ways to cut your energy usage in your home.
- Old appliances waste energy. To conserve energy while also protecting the environment, resolve to consider upgrading to energy efficient appliances. Appliances that feature the Energy Star logo are a great way to cut down on your energy bills. But keep in mind that the upfront costs of these upgrades involve much more than the actual ticket price. Instead, consider energy efficiency as a long-term investment.
Note: Before spending money on a new appliance, you need to do a bit of homework. Not all appliances will save you a ton of money. Look for the appliance’s potential energy savings PER YEAR.
- Resolve to switch out light bulbs for energy efficient LEDs. Although they cost a bit more, LED Energy Star qualified light bulbs to end up paying for themselves in energy savings in the long run. That’s because they use 75 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and last 35 to 50 times longer! Plus, they offer greater peace of mind since they give off very little heat, reducing the risk of an electrical fire. They’re also quite robust, so if dropped, they won’t shatter all over the floor.
Need proof? A 60-watt incandescent bulb that puts out about 800 lumens (brightness) will burn up to 240 watts in just 4 hours. A comparable 8-watt LED bulb will consume only 32 watts.
Add in a bulb’s guarantee of three years minimum, there’s no reason not to resolve to use LED bulbs.
- Resolve to make better use of your ceiling fans. Give your HVAC system a break and use your ceiling fans more this year. Set your fans to spin clockwise in the winter and counter-clockwise in the summer. They’ll pull warm air down from the ceiling when it’s cold and create a wind chill effect when it’s warm.
- Resolve to kill energy vampires. Have you heard of “vampire power?” That’s the energy appliances draw when they’re just plugged in and not being used. It might not seem like much (after all, how much power could something as a countertop coffee maker use?). But when added up, it can become rather problematic.
A study by the National Resource Defense Council found that homes lose around $165 per year on “vampire power” consumption. The most familiar sources of “vampire power”: TVs, computers and kitchen appliances. To keep this resolution, you can unplug any device you don’t use consistently. For things you do rely upon over and over, plug them into a power bar. When the bar is turned off, no “vampire power” is wasted.
How can J&A South Park help you?
J&A South Park should be your premier choice for electrical service if you want to start the new year off on a positive note. Our team of certified electricians is ready to deal with all your electrical requirements, and we guarantee 100 percent satisfaction. For any New Year’s resolutions you make concerning your electricity, you can count on us to help assure it comes true. That’s why we offer a wide range of services to help out with most any projects including electrical panel replacements, electrical remodeling, switch and outlet replacement and so much more.