The summer heat may make your home feel very uncomfortable. Using an air conditioner is a popular way to keep your home cool. Yet, it may be quite costly to install and maintain air conditioning in your house. Plus, wading through all the available options can be frustrating. The good news is, you can always get expert help from the professionals at Piper Electric. You should also take a look at the following tips to help you get started.
Reduce the amount of sunshine entering the house
The sunshine entering your home can cause the air inside to heat up pretty quickly. This can be avoided by covering your windows. Using drapes and curtains is a simple way to reduce heat in your house. You can even buy special blackout curtains that will help keep your home’s temperature down. At the very least, cover the windows that are directly in the sun rays’ path.
Use ceiling fans
Ceiling fans are an affordable way to cool down your house. They cost much less than air conditioning. And, you won’t have to spend as much money on your electricity bill. Using fans will improve how air circulates in your house. In fact, using fans together with your air conditioning will keep your house cool without increasing your energy costs. When in doubt, it might be best to speak to an expert. They will be able to advise on the best way of keeping your house cool in an efficient way.
Keep your house properly sealed
When your AC is running, it’s important that the house is properly sealed off. You don’t want the cool air to escape through an open window. On the flip side, hot air entering the house will put make it more expensive for your air conditioner to keep you cool.
However, if the temperature outside is less than what it is inside, try turning your AC off. Instead, open windows that oppose each other. Then, sit back and enjoy the cool breeze rushing through your house!
Manage your air conditioner
As much as possible, your air conditioners should be kept in the shade. If you can, have your AC installed on the North side of the house. That side of the house gets less heat during the day. Doing this will help to reduce your running costs.
It’s also best to switch your AC unit off when you’re not at home. Your house will not stay cooler just because the AC was on the whole day. The next tip gives you a much better option.
Use a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat will ensure that your AC only runs during certain times of the day. That way, you can ensure that the unit doesn’t stay on when it’s not needed. This is a crucial step if you want to save money while keeping your house cool.
Make sure that there are no heat-emitting objects around your thermostat. This includes lamps, ovens, or even desktop computers. The extra heat will “confuse” the device about the room’s temperature. As a result, the AC unit will work harder to keep the room cool. In turn, this will end up wasting money due to high power consumption.
When it comes to cooling your house, it’s always best to speak to an expert. They can help you figure out the best options for your budget. You will also avoid a lot of trouble that can come from buying the wrong cooling equipment. Find out how you can get your needs met – get in touch now!
21 Jun 2018
Flickering lights can be incredibly frustrating, causing headaches and a lot of discomfort. However, you may not realize that they can also be really dangerous. When your lights are continuously flickering, it’s often a sign that something is seriously wrong with your home electrical system. Electrical fires cause over $1.3 billion in property damage every year and around 10% of home fire fatalities are a result of electrical malfunctions. This means it’s important to get to the bottom of why your lights are flickering, in case it’s something truly dangerous. Here are the top 5 reasons why your lights are flickering:
Reason #1: You’re using LED or fluorescent lights
Some types of light fittings naturally flicker more. When you turn on fluorescent lights, the phosphors have to reach the right illumination, and they’ll often flicker in the process. LED lights will also commonly flicker as they’re trying to connect to their drivers. It’s quite normal for LEDs and fluorescent lights to flicker right after you turn them on, so don’t let this flickering worry you.
Reason #2: The bulb is loose
Your light bulb may just be too loose. If you haven’t screwed the bulb into the socket tightly enough, it will flicker. Obviously, you should turn the light off, wait for it to cool, and then screw the lightbulb in more tightly. Always screw your light bulbs tightly into the sockets. If your light bulb keeps flickering, however, then you’ve got a different problem.
Reason #3: Your light switch isn’t working properly
If your light switch isn’t properly connected to the light bulb, you will get some flickering. Try turning the light on and off a few times. Or, you can leave the light off for a little while before turning it back on. If either of these solutions fixes the problem, then you’ve simply got a faulty light switch. An electrician can replace this for you quickly and easily.
Reason #4: Your home’s voltage is fluctuating
Your lights may be flickering because the voltage in your home is fluctuating a lot. This is particularly likely if the lights flicker when you’re using a high wattage appliance. You’ve probably got a voltage problem if you experience other problems like; your light bulbs burning out and lights going dim for no clear reason. If the voltage in your home is fluctuating a lot, then you’ve got a real problem. Your home voltage should always be between 115 and 125 volts, and you can check it using a voltmeter. If you’re getting more variability than that, it could be a sign that something is seriously wrong. Consult an electrician as soon as possible if this is the case.
Reason #5: Your home wiring is loose
The worst-case scenario is that your flickering lights are caused by loose wiring. Loose wiring is the biggest cause of electrical fires in homes, so you don’t want to ignore it. You should turn off the light at the circuit breaker before you remove the light fixture and take a look at the wiring underneath. If it looks loose or you aren’t sure how steady it looks, call in an electrician as soon as possible.
Flickering lights would annoy anyone, but you should also be concerned for your safety if you notice them in your home. If you’ve got flickering lights in your home, or you’re concerned about any other electrical issue, get in touch with the experts at Piper Electric. We’ve been working with home electrical systems in Denver since 1983 and we’ve got all the expertise you need.
07 Jun 2018
Due in part to the plethora of DIY inspired home renovation shows and magazines on the market today, many homeowners get it into their heads that they can tackle any home repair. Unfortunately, many homeowners quickly become aware that home renovation projects are often more complicated than they seem. One of the most complicated and dangerous elements of home renovation that no homeowner should handle themselves is electrical work. Before you delve into your home’s electrical wiring, take a look at the FAEQ.
FAEQ #1: When do I need to call an electrician?
While we recommend hiring a professional and licensed electrician for any electrical work, there are a few other occasions when you would benefit from having a professional in your home. Call an electrician right away if:
- Your lights are flickering on & off, if they are frequently dim, or if you find yourself changing fuses all the time.
- You notice a burning smell coming from any of your electronics or outlets.
- You need additional power outlets installed or updated.
FAEQ #2: How much electrical work can I do by myself?
Legally, most states will let you do pretty much whatever you like in your home. However, tinkering with electrical work can be dangerous, especially if you don’t really know how they work. Changing a fuse and rewiring a socket is probably manageable. But, for anything else, just call an electrician. The danger and damage that you can do by messing around with your home electrical grid usually aren’t worth it the minimal financial savings. And of course, if you mess up, you’ll end up paying more to have everything repaired.
FAEQ #3: What are the different electrical outlet grades?
Outlets are organized into three main grades, homeowner grade, commercial grade, and hospital grade. Homeowner grade outlets are the least expensive and the most common but, they’ll generally wear out within five to ten years of use. Commercial grade is a better option as they cost more but will last around one hundred years! Hospital grade outlets are much more expensive and aren’t needed in the average home, as they’re built to be so fail-safe that they can stay on to power medical devices and so on.
FAEQ #4: What’s a “short”?
A short is just another name for a short circuit. It essentially occurs when a wire carrying electrical current (usually the black wire) touches the grounded conductor (the white wire) or the equipment ground (the green or bare copper wire). A lot of heat builds up and can cause sparks. This is why your home’s circuit breakers will cut off your power if a short circuit occurs, so this excess heat doesn’t turn into a fire.
FAEQ #5: What’s the difference between a circuit breaker and a fuse?
Both circuit breakers and fuses have the same job – when there’s an issue with your electrical system, they’ll stop the flow of electricity. The difference is in their longevity. You’ll have to replace a tripped fuse, but a circuit breaker can be put back into use and doesn’t need replacing. This makes circuit breakers the more popular option these days.
FAEQ #6: Why do the light bulbs in one of my fixtures keep blowing?
It’s probably an issue with heat, vibration, or voltage. If the light fixture has an enclosed lens, then the bulb can easily get too hot and burn out the bulb. You need to remedy this, as the excess heat can increase the risk of catching fire. Make sure not to install light bulbs that are too big (you can check the label on the fixture to find out the right size). If the fixture is next to a door then the constant movement may cause the bulb, and its filament to vibrate, which will also cause the bulb to blow. If this is the problem, you can try using a halogen light bulb, which has a stronger filament and is less likely to break. Your lightbulbs may also be too low in voltage for your home. Many modern homes have voltages as high as 125 volts, whereas many common light bulbs are just 110 or 120 volts. The high voltage in your home will run them out quickly, so in this case, it can help to use a 130-volt bulb.
FAEQ #8: Is my home electrical system safe?
If you’re experiencing any of the problems we mentioned in FAEQ #1, then your home electrical system may be unsafe. Similarly, if your home is quite old then your electrical system may not be able to safely handle modern electronics. If you’re concerned about your home electrical system, the best thing to do is to get it checked out by a professional electrician.
Electrical systems can seem confusing but, hopefully, this FAEQ has answered some of your burning questions! If you have any more, just get in touch with us here at Piper Electric. Providing top quality services to customers throughout Denver since 1983, we are the electrical contracting experts.
21 May 2018
It can be all too easy to forget about the wiring in your home. After all, your brain happily focuses on more visible issues like paint chips and broken kitchen appliances. However, your home’s wiring is a vital part of your day to day life and your safety. Electrical fires cause around 300 deaths and over 1,100 injuries every year, and over a billion is lost per year to property damage resulting from electrical fires. In fact, bad electricals result in around 51,000 fires every single year. You don’t want this to happen to your or your family but it easily can if you neglect your home. But how do you know when you need to rewire? Here, in no particular order, are the top ten signs which indicate that it’s time for you to rewire your home:
If you can often smell burning and the scent doesn’t seem to go away, you may be having serious wiring issues. You should always turn off the power at the circuit and get in touch with an electrician immediately if you suspect that there’s a burning smell caused by an electrical issue in your home.
If you often get an electric shock when you plug something into outlets in your home, this could be a sign that your wiring is faulty. This can easily happen over time or as a result of a bad original job, and it should be corrected by a professional rewiring.
Similarly, if your outlets often spark when you plug something in or out of them, you need to beware. Don’t ignore this sign that something is wrong with your rewiring. Consult an electrician if you notice continual sparking from your outlets.
Dim or Flickering Lights
If the lights in your home are continually dim or flickering, there could be something wrong with your wiring. One dim or flickering light is usually nothing to worry about. However, multiple imperfect lights is a sign that you need to rewire.
Does your house sound like you’re grilling in the backyard, even when everything should be quiet? Then you’ve probably got an issue with your wiring. Sizzling sounds can be a sign of electrical faults, so start thinking about rewiring your home if you keep hearing them.
Tripped Circuit Breaker
Your circuit breaker will trip if your electrical system can’t handle the amount of power running in your home. There are a few other reasons why your circuit breaker might trip but it is often a sign that you need to rewire, so consider calling an electrician if this keeps happening.
Equally, if the fuses in your appliances keep blowing, you might have a problem. One blown fuse could be a fault with the product or a coincidence. Continually blown fuses are a cause for concern. Your house may need rewiring if your appliances keep blowing, so don’t ignore this important sign.
Discoloration on Outlets and Switches
Your switches and electrical outlets will often end up discolored as a result of old or bad wiring. Tiny sparks and fires can cause a charred appearance which will become noticeable over time. If you start noticing this discoloration, contact an expert about getting your home rewired.
Your home may need to be rewired if your outlets are hanging loosely from the wall. Even if they’re just a few millimeters off the wall, they could easily cause electrical fires.
An Old Home
Sometimes, it’s simply the most obvious problem. If you’ve got an old home and you haven’t rewired it in a long time (or ever!), then it may be time for a rewiring. An expert, like the ones at Piper Electric, can help you figure out if it’s time to rewire your home.
Here at Piper Electric, we’re always happy to assist you with your electric needs. If you’re thinking about rewiring your home, get in touch with us to find out about your options. With over thirty-five years of experience in electrical contracting, we’re always ready to help you get the best service possible.
10 May 2018
Summer is coming, is your backyard ready? If you’ve already freshened up the patio furniture and cleaned out the grill, it’s time to update your outdoor lighting. This task is often overlooked, but it could help make your summer nights both magical and enjoyable. Here’s how to get your backyard ready for summer.
Below are a few ways that lighting is used in backyards:
- For illumination, safety and functionality — You need lights to see when it’s dark outside, so it makes sense to design outdoor lighting with this basic function in mind.
- Security — Outdoor lighting also helps improve security outdoors by discouraging potential intruders.
- Aesthetics — Backyard lighting sets a certain mood, helping to make being outdoors more welcoming and intimate.
Lighting for Illumination, Safety and Functionality in the Backyard
The first order of business is to ensure all walkways, stairs, entrances, patio doors, and functional areas (such as the barbecue and outdoor cooking areas) are adequately lit. Likewise, if you plan on eating outdoors, adding built-in lighting to your patio cover could provide the perfect amount of light you and your guests need to enjoy the meal.
If you have a pool or spa, these areas will need to be illuminated sufficiently. An electrician can help design a lighting scheme that lights up these areas both functionally and aesthetically.
While you may not necessarily want to draw attention to your side yard, you might want to consider adding motion-activated lights here to provide illumination when accessing trash cans or a side gate.
Lighting for Security in the Backyard
Many families leave their windows and patio doors open on summer nights, helping to cool their homes. Unfortunately, burglary rates increase by about 11 percent in the summer thanks in part to open windows and doors, empty homes while families are on vacation, and valuables left outdoors at night.
Adding flood lights, motion-activated lights, and general outdoor lighting can help make your home less attractive to potential burglars.
Lighting for Aesthetics in the Backyard
Outdoor lighting can play an important role in the aesthetics of your backyard at night. Not only can outdoor lighting, make your home feel more welcoming in the dark. Meanwhile, fairy lights, umbrella lights, rope lights, and other backyard lights can transform your backyard into a nighttime wonderland. Whether you’re enjoying time alone with your family or hosting a backyard party, set the mood with outdoor lighting.
Off-the-shelf string lights and solar lights are good DIY lighting projects that can add sparkle and personality to your backyard. For pool and spa and larger outdoor lighting projects, you’ll want to enlist the services of a reliable electrician to ensure that your project is wired properly and according to all applicable safety and local building codes.
Power strip vs. Extension cords
Everyone uses power strips and extension cords in homes and workplaces, yet many don’t know that the two most common plugin options are different. In fact, there are a couple of differences between them. Although both of them are designed to plug in multiple electronic devices at a time and can help prevent power spikes, they are not the same.
In simple words, power strips plug into the power outlet on the wall and allow you to connect multiple appliances and devices at a time. They have a one-length cable that has a three-pin plug on one end and sockets enclosed in a box on the other end.
Following are key points to remember about power strips:
- Power strips can handle multiple small loads at a time.
- Power strips come with a range of voltage ratings.
- Power strips lack longevity or stability for extended use.
- Power strips are called a Temporary Power Tap (TPT) and come with six outlets with overcurrent protection.
Extension cords, on the other hand, have a similar design but are longer compared to power strips. They are also less stable and come with only two or three plugs. However, less stability doesn’t mean extension cords are not useful. What it means is that they are for short-term uses of one-hour duration, as opposed to power strips, which you can use for a few days.
Power strip safety tips you should know about
Never connect two power strips with each other
Connecting two power strips with each other is known as “daisy chaining.” Doing so is dangerous. One of the power strips may overload and cause a fire. Instead of connecting power strips for more length, it’s better to buy a longer one than triggering any hazard.
Avoid space heaters
Space heaters consume large amounts of electricity. Most of the power strips cannot handle so much load. You should ensure that your powers strip is rated for heavy appliances to correct the energy absorption or else you might face a meltdown.
Avoid using frayed cables
Make sure the casing around your cable is in proper condition so that you don’t damage your devices. Cables that are frayed can be extremely dangerous. They may cause an electric shock. So, in case you see any damage in the casing, take it to a service center immediately.
Plug only one device at a time
Avoid overloading your power strip by connecting multiple heavy appliances. For example, if you plug-in your computer to one, make sure you don’t plug-in your television to the same one. It may overload and blow a fuse, potentially damaging all the connected devices.
Lastly, you shouldn’t use power strips beyond their intended period of use as they are only for short-term use. You should discard your power strip once you exceed the specified usage period.
If it gets hit quickly, it’s best to discontinue using it.
25 Apr 2018
Do I Need to Label My Electrical Panel?
As important as it is regarding the safety of your home, most homeowners do not make it a practice to label their electrical panels. They either don’t understand just how crucial it is or they are not entirely sure about the process. Now, before we provide you with some simple, but practical steps any homeowner can take, let’s talk about why you would want to label your electrical panel in the first place.
An electrical panel, also known as a “fuse panel,” “fuse box” or a “circuit breaker panel,” is a piece of equipment that safely distributes electricity throughout your home and also helps to prevent electrical issues. Most homeowners install it in the garage or basement.
Electrical codes require homeowners to label the electrical layout of their homes before selling them. It guarantees a level of safety to future homeowners, technicians or any other individual who might have to touch the electrical panel. Even if you don’t plan on selling your home any time soon, it’s still a good safety practice.
Also, labeling your electrical panels proves useful while installing new devices and appliances. Should you face any flooding or fire, it can also help an electrical technician to do his/her work more effectively, as it will show the circuit breaker that’s defective.
How to label your electric panel?
The primary challenge in labeling electrical panels is to identify which fixtures and outlets connect to a specific circuit breaker. Don’t worry; you are not the only homeowner facing this issue. If you are clueless about labeling your electric panel, here are a few steps to follow:
Turn off all circuit breakers
The first step you should take while labeling your electrical panel is turning off all circuit breakers. Then, see which appliance or fixture turns on when you turn on the breakers one by one. You can also check the power outlets by plugging in an alarm clock or lamp or using a voltage tester. Now, the entire process may take some time; however, it would be worth the effort for the safety of your home.
Label your appliances
Heavy and large electrical appliances like air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, and dryers tend to consume a lot of electricity. For this reason, it is recommended to provide them with electrical panels of their own. Some even give them two fuse box slots. You can label each appliance according to the circuit breaker it connects to or the amperage rating, making it easy to identify defects when something disrupts electricity to these appliances.
Label your breaker box
It is recommended to label your breaker box as well. Even though there are no specific guidelines in the electrical codes, you can do it with the help of already-numbered slots. You can make a diagram of your own if you want a detailed map of the entire electrical layout.
Approach a professional
Lastly, if you are facing any trouble while labeling your electrical panel, you should consider taking the help of a professional. Electrical panel labeling is not easy. There are many safety issues involved in it. Hence, approaching a professional, who can simplify the process for you, would be the smart move here.
Around 51,000 home fires and 500 deaths are caused annually due to electrical faults. While all new buildings have to meet certain electrical safety regulations, it is older buildings that pose a great concern. Many buildings that are over twenty years old are not equipped to deal with the present electrical load and pose a high risk of electrical fires.
Electrical safety concerns in older buildings
- Outdated regulations: Buildings that were built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s met a certain standard of electrical safety but, those standards are completely outdated now. Every three years, the National Electric Code (NEC) makes revisions to its safety laws to reflect changes in technologies that make buildings safer.
- Increase in load: Over the past few years, the concentration of buildings using electricity in each area has grown. The electrical consumption in each household has increased with the influx of new gadgets and appliances. The considerable increase in load on the electric supply has also increased the probability of electrical fires in homes with outdated electrical installations. In fact, electrical fires are responsible for $7 Million worth of property damage every year.
- Age: Overtime it is not uncommon for the wiring in buildings to wither and crack, exposing loose wires that are essentially leaking electrical charges that can easily catch fire.
- Home improvements: DIY home improvements over the years could have damaged the electrical installations in a home. Adjustments in electrical sockets, lighting fixtures, or remodeling a room by an unqualified person could damage the integrity of the electrical setup in a house.
- Other problems: A number of other problems have been observed in older homes that give rise to concerns of electrical safety; overloaded circuits get overheated, improper or no earthing for sockets, no residual current devices in bathrooms, etc. All these and more have a high risk of an electrical accident.
What can be done?
Older homes need to be inspected regularly and up to date fire safety regulations need to be put in place. Installation of working smoke detectors and fire alarms, AFCIs, Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), and Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRRs), could all help reduce the number of fires caused by electrical faults.
Because of the fast growth in the number of residences in cities and towns over the last few years, there has been an additional load on the electrical supply. Many older homes were not equipped to handle this load and now are at risk of electrical accidents. A proper system when put in place to evaluate these risks and take the necessary measures, will help combat the problem.
Skyrocketing energy bills daunt millions of homeowners these days. No matter how much they skimp on the time they spend running electronics and home appliances, the number never seems to reduce. Instead, it goes beyond the budgeted limit, thus pushing homeowners to switch to cheaper, more energy-efficient options. If you are interested in such devices, perhaps you should read on to know about a few of them:
The biggest energy drain in every home is its heating and cooling systems. But a smart thermostat can perhaps block this energy outflow and push down your utility bills drastically. These devices are so smart that they can store your preferences and process your and your family’s comfort settings for creating a comfortable indoor space. These devices are supported by a mobile app, which allows you to control settings from anywhere, anytime. You are sure to save whopping sums of money every month after installing a smart thermostat.
Smart outlets and plugs
Standard outlets can consume a lot of energy owing to their manual control settings. But smart outlets are a gust of fresh air among the standard ones because they come with a wide range of features. You can operate these outlets using a smart application, which allows you to schedule the on/off times and also increase the efficiency of humidifiers, fans, lamps, water heaters, coffee makers and many more. You should also consider smart plugs, which plug into your existing outlets without requiring a major rewiring project.
Sensor switches are becoming a part of smart home designs owing to their energy efficiency. These switches are equipped with advanced sensors that know you and your family are leaving or entering the room. They do so from several feet away, without you having to turn on or off the lights manually. Some sensor switches also have natural light-detecting capabilities, which save an incredible amount of energy and money. It’s truly a great installation if you still fumble for the light switch after entering a dark room.
Some home appliances and gadgets suck out outrageous amounts of energy. But you can tackle this problem by installing smart surge protectors. It’s very simple to use: connect your device and create a charging station for your mobile device for protecting your expensive appliances against power surges. You can control everything through an app or an automatic scheduler, both of which can hack down your energy consumption and expenses substantially.
High summer temperatures mean high usage of air conditioners. But air conditioners are not only expensive but also harm the environment. But, smart blinds come as a blessing in such a situation. These blinds can open and close themselves automatically after reaching a predetermined temperature. These are simply a great alternative to expensive HVAC systems that suck out energy and money.
Energy-efficiency is something no homeowner can achieve within a day. It takes time. But they have to install energy-efficient, smart devices at home that create a win-win for both homeowners and the environment.
23 Feb 2018
It’s going to be a long time before we will have some natural warmth in Colorado. Blistery days and bitter nights mean we will be turning up our heat until the winter thaws. So, until then, we will be spending a fair bit of money on energy bills. But, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are a few clever solutions to help you reduce your heating costs and boost the natural warmth in your house. Basically, what we are saying is that you can reduce your dependence on heating. So, let’s take a look.
Use film to cover patio doors and windows
Experts say that around 25% of the heat inside your home escapes through your windows and doors. You can combat this by simply covering those areas with plastic film. This simple trick can save you up to almost 14% on your heating bills. Working as an insulator, the plastic film keeps the heat in and the cold out. Plus it’s very affordable. You can buy a 62×84 sheet for just about $6. It’s also very easy to apply and remove.
Turn it down a notch
This is probably the simplest solution of all – just turn down your thermostat by a notch or two. You see, most people tend to keep their homes warmer than necessary. Turning down the thermostat by a few notches isn’t going to cause the temperature inside to drop drastically. In other words, you won’t freeze to death because the temperature drops a degree or two. However, it will have a fairly significant impact on your energy bill.
The best time to do this is when you’re going to bed because that’s when you’re least likely to notice the drop, especially when you’re already cuddled up under a blanket.
Switch on the fan
This might sound counterintuitive, but switching on your fan can actually improve the heating inside your home. However, the trick is to make it run in a clockwise direction. Typically, fans are “programmed” to run in a counter-clockwise direction. This is how they circulate cool air.
However, when you run it in the clockwise direction, the fan “sucks” up the room air and brings down the warm air. You see, hot air rises, so the air going up is always warm and the fan, when moving in a clockwise direction, brings the same warm air down.
For best effect, use a low-speed setting.
Get an energy audit done
If you follow the above-mentioned tips and still can’t seem to reduce your heating, it is time to get an energy audit done. Performing an audit will help you identify where your home is wasting energy. Once you know where the problem lies, you can make the necessary adjustments to boost efficiency. Call Piper Electric for an audit today!