Reducing your electrical bill during the pandemic


With cases of COVID-19 creeping back up again, some folks are again electing to stay home and work instead of going to the office. In some ways, working from home is great. Not only do you have more time to yourself, but some studies are even showing people are more productive even though they’re not actually working as much. 

The flip side of this is all well documented. People feel lonely, separated and depending on your child’s school situation – you might be juggling both work and kids – which is a lot. One other, under the radar problem though – is that people have noticed large jumps in their utility bills – particularly their electrical bills. 

And let’s be honest – it makes sense. Your house is powering more devices for longer periods of time. So how do you counteract that? Is there a way you can take the edge off? Here are a few things that you can do to stay ahead of the curve and lower those utility bills in these trying times. Let’s jump right in!

Be conscious of what you leave on

Look, just about every person in the world is wasteful when it comes to something. Maybe it’s food, money or hot water; but if you’re someone who leaves lights on, we’re sure your monthly utility bill has been quite a wake up call! 

Look around you. How many devices are you running? Do you really need the TV running in the background? Does the Air Conditioner need to be bumping at full blast? Are your kids jumping off Zoom classes and playing video games? And what about when you’re not using any of these things? Are you leaving them on?

If so – turn ‘em off. Don’t use lights when you don’t need them. Use an energy saver setting on your AC. And power down your laptops when you’re not using them. 

Natural light is your friend

Especially if you live in a sunny place like we do here in Florida, just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you can’t let the sun in. Open up those curtains and let the sun add both warmth and light into your home. The Vitamin D will do you some good and you’ll find yourself using less electricity during the day. 

Grill more, cook in the kitchen less

Not only can grilling be super healthy for you, but you’ll be using less of your kitchen, which means you’ll be spending a whole lot less on electricity at the end of the month. Kitchen’s account for almost half of our monthly power usage every month – from ovens and microwaves to toasters and George Foreman Grills. Using your grill will get you outside and help you be less dependent on your kitchen. 

Energy Savings Settings

Every device in your home now has energy saving settings of some sort and as such – you should take full advantage – particularly when it comes to your computers and devices. Even depending on when your appliances were made; they also come with these settings. Be sure to take advantage of them. Using these settings can reduce your costs 5-10% alone, which might not seem like a lot; but in a day and time where every penny counts; this is the way you’ll want to go about things and it’ll certainly help take the edge off. 

Hopefully these tips will help make looking at your electrical bill a little less painful at the end of the month. If you’ve got questions or are looking to make any upgrades in your home during the pandemic, we’re open for business! Give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation.

 

4 issues electrical inspections will help identify


Every now and then it’s a good idea to get your home’s electrical system inspected. If for nothing more than the fact that technology is moving at breakneck speed these days and even things like lamps and televisions consume different amounts of electricity than they used to. 

That being said – if you ever do experience things like flickering lights, breaker trips, notice any burning smells or smoke or arcing noises then yes- you need to get someone into your home immediately to check it out. Why’s that? Because these are all signs that something could be wrong with your electrical system or that it might be deficient. 

A thorough inspection by a licensed electrician can uncover a whole range of potentially dangerous things in your home – but in particular; there are some big ones out there that might be emerging problems that haven’t revealed themselves yet. 

That’s the reason for today’s blog. Here are some of the hidden issues that regular electrical inspections can help identify. Let’s jump right in. 

Faulty wiring

Faulty wiring is a blanket term used to describe a number of issues pertaining to the wiring in your home. It could be that t

he wiring is frayed, improperly sized, could be the wrong type of wiring or there could simply just be loose connections. Either way – poor wiring could cause a house fire, so you’ll want to make sure your electrician can rule that out or if there is an issue – that it can be addressed. 

Faulty electrical panel

Your panel box distributes electricity throughout your home. Fuses and breakers exist for a reason – your safety and protection. An electrical inspection can identify a multitude of potential issues, including but not limited to incorrect wiring, an out of date panel or perhaps even a model that has been recalled. 

Incorrectly sized breakers and fuses

Fuses and breakers trip when a circuit gets overloaded. If one of these things is too small for your system, they’ll trip frequently. On the other hand if you have a breaker or fuse that carries too much of a load, it won’t properly protect against overloads and short circuits.

Improper grounding

Any worthwhile electrical system needs to have a good grounding system in order to keep voltages steady and protect homes against potential surges. You’ll see these frequently in a number of structures including garages, houses, and commercial buildings. Over time, these ground wires can get severed or fray and connections can become loose – presenting a potential hazard to the structures they’re attached to. 

If you have concerns about the integrity of your system; you should get it inspected. If you’re in the Largo, FL area and need an inspection done, give our professionals a call today. Good luck!

 

Saving energy in commercial office buildings


Especially in times like these – if you’re a business owner – every cent counts. Even in normal economic conditions, keeping expenses low is a key to maintaining your businesses’ profitability. One of the biggest areas of wasteful spending and needless expense is energy usage.

Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about how your business can trim those excessive energy bills at the office so that you can use that money in places where it’s better used. Let’s jump right in!

Take advantage of power management settings on equipment

Most every device or piece of office equipment has some sort of energy saving setting or mode that you can use. Don’t take these things for granted. You shouldn’t have to stroll past a computer and see a screen saver; you should be seeing a black screen sleep mode. And as for things like copy machines – you can save as much as 30% just by using energy saver settings. 

Maintenance and more maintenance

Whether it’s office equipment or your HVAC systems – all of these things use energy and will cost you money to run. When they’re not working properly – not only will they cost you more month to month to operate, but they’ll cost you more money to fix as well. Make sure that whatever you have in your place of business – that you have some sort of monthly/annual maintenance plan with your service provider. 

Yes, it might seem like more money out the door at first, but compared to the costs associated with malfunctioning assets and repairs, it’s a drop in the bucket. Don’t let these things slide by the wayside. 

Get an energy audit

Especially if you’re working with a lot of technology, we highly recommend that you get an electrician to perform an energy audit. Sometimes you’d be really surprised to see the places where money is flying out the door; things you wouldn’t have thought of, considered or even thought to address using the naked eye. 

Audits are important, too; because they not only help you find hidden problem spots, but they also provide you with a road map as to what you need to do in order to have your energy usage exactly where you want it to be. You’ll know what equipment isn’t working right, what is, what is old and might need replacing and what could use some tweaking. It’s tough to find where you’re going with a blindfold on – and not getting an audit is a bit like that. Know where you need to go. 

Don’t take automation for granted

While we’d love to tell you that power management defaults are a big cost saver, sometimes they don’t work correctly and it’ll take a little light diligence on your part to make sure that they’re functioning as intended. Sometimes employees get lazy and tweak settings or turn up a thermostat – or something silly happens. No one’s asking you to be dedicating substantial time to this daily, but just try to make it part of your passing, daily observations when you’re walking through your office. 

Updates are worth it

Updating things like server rooms, thermostats and computers can seem expensive up front and in some cases, they are. That being said, the cost savings you can experience over the long haul is substantial and significant. If you have some systems that are a little long in the tooth, don’t bemoan your situation and complain that you have to spend money. Consider it an opportunity to invest in your business; an investment that’ll save you money over the long haul. 

Hopefully these tips will help you save some money and maintain a more active role in your businesses’ energy management. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to give us a call today and set up a free consultation. Good luck!

 

Why is my wall buzzing?


So you’re sitting at home one night and you hear a low buzzing sound in your wall. Why is it there? Why is it so annoying? Could it be, you ask yourself- dangerous? The answer is that this isn’t a normal situation. Vibrating or buzzing sounds could be a sign of any number of potentially hazardous electrical issues – ranging from wiring, switches to outlets – all of which require immediate attention. 

Here’s what you do first

First thing’s first is to try to identify where the sound is coming from. If you’re not really sure where to begin, we’ve got a few quick tips listed here to help you figure it out. Some of the reasons you might be hearing buzzing include:

  • Poor connections inside a switch or outlet
  • Screws that fasten wires to outlets may be loose
  • Your gas or electric meter is on the other side of the wall and might need servicing
  • Air vents could be buzzing due to excess air pressure
  • Turn off your ceiling fan to make sure the buzzing isn’t coming from there
  • Fluorescent bulbs do have a low hum. If they’re in your room, shut them off to see if the buzzing stops.
  • Look for signs of bees or wasps

Electrical outlet buzzing

OK – so here’s the one you’ve gotta keep your ears peeled for. If buzzing noise is coming out of an outlet in the wall – you’re likely hearing the electrical current running to the outlet. But – here’s the snag – you don’t want to hear that sound. Wall outlets don’t make that sound unless something is wrong.

If there’s a buzz, there’s a high possibility that there’s a loose connection and faulty wiring. Loose connections do occur from time to time just from being jostled around. This is more common in older outlets and light switches. If you live in an older home and you hear that noise, it’s time to get the outlet replaced. 

Another possibility is that the outlet was simply not wired correctly. Reverse polarity from bad wiring causes the buzz. This is 100% the culprit if you plug in an appliance and the buzzing gets louder. This is a situation that shouldn’t be taken lightly, though. Reversed polarity is something that requires the immediate attention for a licensed electrician. 

Still no luck?

If you still can’t figure out what’s causing the buzzing noise, give us a call. Our licensed electricians can help quickly inspect and diagnose the problem. Particularly if the problem is electrical – we can get to it and fix it fast. Until then – good luck!

 

Why your electrical outlet isn’t working


We’ve all been there at some point. You go to plug in your phone charger or hair dryer and nothing happens. You know it’s not the device itself, so you wonder if it’s your electrical outlet. While we’d love it if you called us every time, we do realize that we’re not necessarily needed for every, single thing that goes wrong. And as such, there are, in fact – several safe, troubleshooting steps you can take to see if you can solve the problem yourself first.

Safety is always the most important thing to consider when it comes to electricity and as such, here are some things that you can do that will help bring the actual problem itself into a clearer focus without exposing yourself to harm.

But before we begin

We do want to take the chance to review a few worthwhile safety tips to make sure you avoid getting to this point to begin with.

-First- don’t overload electrical outlets with multiple power strips or adaptors

 

-Don’t place objects other than plugs that are the right size into an outlet

 

-And finally – make sure outlets have plates covering them and that all the wiring is inside

Do those things, and you’ll dramatically lower the likelihood of your outlet going belly-up. Also one more, handy thing to buy and keep in your toolbox – an electrical outlet tester. Sometimes they’re called socket tester– and they can basically tell you right off the bat whether your outlet is working or not. While there are some safety issues that can arise, these socket testers can help identify potential wiring errors so you get a better idea of what kind of problems you’ve got on your hands.

Now onto troubleshooting

Here are some of the things you can try to do to see if your outlet is malfunctioning.

 

  • Plug devices into other outlets. Sometimes, it really isn’t the outlet and instead it’s the device itself. Plug it into something else to make sure first.

 

  • Check surrounding outlets within that immediate room. If they’re faulty- there could be a bigger problem.

 

  • If you have a GFCI outlet, try pressing the reset button. If that works, then great! If it continually trips, then it’s 100% time to call an electrician.

 

  • Next, once you’ve identified a dysfunctional outlet, go ahead and unplug anything in that outlet and just to be safe – unplug things like desktop computers and the like. It’s a good idea just to be safe!

 

  • Check your circuit breaker box or look for a blown fuse. These are attached to the main electrical panel- which is located where electricity enters the house. You can identify a tripped breaker simply by seeing that a certain handle is not like the others. Fuses will look a little bit like blown light bulb, with a cloudy, burn looking residue on the inside.

 

  • If you do find a tripped breaker, you can reset it by pushing the handle to ‘off’ until you hear a click. Then push it back to on.

 

  • If the breaker trips again – don’t do anything else. Call an electrician immediately as you have a problem with your wiring or a potentially dangerous situation with a ground fault condition or short circuit. Stop using the outlet and get an electrician in your home immediately.

If you’re in the Clearwater area and you’re looking for a trusted electrician to help you with your faulty outlet, give us a call and we’ll be happy to come take a look!

Summer electrical hazards to be aware of


The weather’s getting warmer and dare we say – we might be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the COVID-9 pandemic. Summer is a time when everyone wants to get outside, so it’s important that both you and they are aware of some of the electrical safety hazards that are out and about.

Here are some outdoor electrical hazards and safety rules you should abide by to make sure everyone’s out, about and enjoying themselves this summer – but safely. Let’s jump right in!

Stay away from power lines and substations – or anything ‘on the grid’ for that matter

Seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t adhere to advice like this. Whether it’s a downed pole, power box, substation or anything related to the power grid – don’t go near it. If a pet wanders close, don’t go get them yourselves. Call 911 and report it immediately if you need help.

Be aware of flying objects

Sounds funny, but make sure if you’re playing outside, that any lawn sports equipment, kites and the like are kept away from power lines. They can become tangled and can do a lot of damage. In fact – when we’re talking about airborne toys, model aircraft and the like – you’re probably best off taking them to a wide -pen space like a park, instead.

Beware of electronics near water

Electricity runs quickly through water. Always be on guard when it comes to using electronics or electric devices near any kind of water – specifically pools. If you see a toy or appliance sitting in water – or if you yourself are wet and you’re near an electric appliance – DO NOT TOUCH IT or GO NEAR IT. Not until you’re dry. If someone’s electrical device or some sort of appliance that’s plugged in falls into water or a pool, leave it and call 911 to have someone come fish it out safely for you.

Go over electrical safety with your family

The summer has some risks associated with it and as such, it’s always a good idea to teach your kids what to do in and around electrical items. Know where circuit breakers are in case of emergencies. Make sure they know how to behave around electrical issues and most important – in the event an accident does happen – that they know how to respond and that there’s a plan in place. No one needs to be brow-beaten with this stuff, but it’s worth the 5 minute dinner table conversation.

Hopefully these tips make navigating this summer a little easier for you guys. If you have any questions or any updates or upgrades you’d like to make, give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation.

When a business should get their electrical system inspected


Making sure you get your electrical system inspected routinely is important. Not only is it an investment in the safety of your employees and office space – but it can also improve the energy efficiency of your office and help you save substantial money on your electrical bills.

While regular maintenance does work – there are some signs that you should look out for that could indicate that you need more than just routine maintenance. Here are some of the things you should be on the look out so that a minor issue doesn’t become a major problem for your business. Let’s jump right in!

Flickering office lights

Always be on the lookout for flickering office lights. Now it’s entirely normal for lights to flicker every now and then – but when it’s a regular occurrence it’s not only annoying, but it could be the sign of a deeper problem. Your circuit wires could be outdated or no longer in line with the latest standards. Perhaps too many devices are plugged into the wall. Or even worse – there could be a severely overloaded circuit.

Especially if you notice that the flickering is going on in more than one room – it’s important you call a licensed electrician immediately.

Warm electrical outlets

If you’re noticing that outlets are warm to the touch – then you’re overdue for an electrician to come out and give your electrical system a once-over. Outlets DO warm up a bit as a part of the process of converting AC into DC power. But when it gets hot to the touch, you could have more current than what the circuit is capable of handling. It could also be mismatched or damaged wiring.

What ever it is – warm electrical outlets could be a sign of a blossoming electrical fire. Don’t take the risk.

If you’re in an older building…

Older buildings are great to look at, great to work in and have tons of character. That being said – with the demand devices place on electricity – it’s getting harder and harder for them to maintain the necessary levels to power them safely.

If you’re in an older building, be sure to have it inspected before you sign any lease – or have it looked at yourself if you’re the owner. There are a lot of underlying issues that could catch you by surprise – even aside from the wiring. There could be flammable insulation around the wiring, the way it’s laid out could be dangerous, etc.

Be sure you get your office checked just in case.

Sparks

Anytime there are sparks – and we mean anytime – immediately call an electrician. Shut off the breaker to that particular location in the building, call a pro and have them come look. Sparks can happen for a whole range of reasons and particularly if you’re in a workplace where there’s a lot of flammable things around.

Remember – it only takes one spark to set off a fire and if you’re in the wrong kind of building – that could be a serious threat – particularly to the health and safety of your people.

Keep an eye out for these things and if you see any of them, have a pro come and inspect your system. Over the long run, you’ll cut off a lot of potential problems before they become and actual crisis. Good luck!

Electrical safety during a pandemic


Well to say the least – things have changed quite a bit since we spoke last! As we all come to grips with our new temporary reality, we know that things are changing all around us – from how we work to how we’re simply trying to keep our own sanity.

While being home all the time is fun at first, setting up a home work station can take some work and even more challenging – keeping those work hours can be difficult. Not only that – but lots of new electrical safety issues can pop up in times like these. Here are some tips on how you can make sure your workstation is set up – and set up for safety. Let’s jump right in!

Charging devices

As we’re all working from home – we’re all keeping in contact with each other through our various devices – whether it’s laptops, cell phones or other mobile devices. Other devices will be hard at work occupying our children. Whatever they’re doing – we know that these devices are going to be getting a workout during coronavirus lockdown – and there’ll be a lot of charging that needs to go on.

Always be sure to make sure that your devices are charging on a hard, flat surface. Don’t leave them plugged in on a bed, couch or near something that could catch fire. Also be sure you’re using the correct charger for the proper device. And as always – be sure to not overload sockets. Try to keep it at one device charging at a time.

Watch what you’re heating!

Half of all accidental fires happen because something went wrong in the kitchen. Make sure that when you’re in there, you’re concentrating on the task at hand and not that dive bomb phone call or email. Don’t leave things like dishwashers, microwaves and ovens running when you’re busy working or out of the house. Keep your things safe and your kitchen safer.

Shop safely

We’re all counting pennies right now and stuck at home for, well – however long it takes. If you’re going to be buying an electrical bargain to pass the time – make sure you know what you’re buying and whom you’re buying it from. A lot of these second hand chargers and devices are made from substandard products and parts that can pose an electrical safety hazard. These products – if misused – can be deadly. Read the reviews and shop intelligently.

And most important of all –

Stay healthy! What a wild time this is for us all, so keep your cool, stay busy and from us to you – stay healthy and safe! We’ll see you all next month!

Dealing with electrical overloads


Your average US home has over 10 appliances in it – and that’s not even coming close to covering the myriad of other electrical devices that are putting stress on your system. When too much power is being used at once, breaker boxes can trip.

While the lost power is an inconvenience, more important is that these overloads can also cause fires if not monitored correctly. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the things you can do to enhance your chances of not having to deal with this sort of electrical problem. Let’s jump right in.

Get inspected once and a while

If fuses are blowing and breakers are consistently tripping, then you might have more than a simple problem on your hands. That’s why it’s good to have an electrician come in and inspect your home.

During an inspection electricians will check all of your wiring and electrical connections within your home to make sure that they’re in good, working condition. This is important because the electrician may identify problem areas that might be beginning to peak their head up from the depths. And when you can get out ahead of problems – they’re almost always easier to fix.

This includes breaker trips and fuses. Perhaps something underlying is causing your box and switches to shut down – and an inspection is a good way to not only identify the issue, but stay ahead of the issues yet to come.

Don’t use too many extension cords

Extension cords are a pretty common feature of most US households, but we encourage you to use them with caution. It’s never a good idea to plug an appliance into an extension cord. Instead, they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

Cords should also only be used temporarily. If you rely on them to power your appliances, then you might need new outlets. Not doing so can cause malfunctions and result in your breaker box frequently tripping. Use them with care!

Know what’s under the hood

Electrical overload happens when a system has too many things drawing power off of it. There isn’t a specific magic number as to how many will do the trick, but it’s important for you to know how much strain your breaker box can handle so that you ensure that you won’t end up using that amount.

Generally speaking, we live by the law of 80% which says that a box will trip when it reaches 80% usage. Think of what your breaker box’s amp load is, and steer clear of that 80% capacity as much as you can.

 

If you’re still experiencing issues with your breaker box tripping and other electrical overloads –then give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!

Halloween electrical safety


One of everyone’s favorite holidays is Halloween. Not only are the costumes, kids and candy a lot of fun – but man oh man, do people get into their decorations! In a time where it seems like everything is stressful – it’s the one holiday that doesn’t require us to plan extensively, cook, clean or buy expensive stuff for others. It’s all about having fun.

That being said – in our world – it’s an interesting time because it’s one of the two big holidays where people tend to use a ton of electricity and unfortunately – that can lead to some safety concerns. If you’re going all out with your Halloween decorations, we have some tips for you today that will help you stay safe this season.

Check your decorations

As you wade through boxes of plastic skeletons, hands and other boo-factor helter-skelter, be sure you check them for any issues. Not only will it put a damper on your display, but someone could get hurt or you could even cause a fire. Check the chords, the bulbs and look for any signs of wear and tear.

Test everything once before you set up

Before you lay out your grand display, we suggest that you check each of your ornaments – particularly the ones that use electricity – to make sure that they work, gage distance and the like. Reacquaint yourself with your outlets and make sure you’re not overextending yourself with the amount of electricity you’ll be using or the length of chord you’ll be using.

Check your exterior lighting

This has less to do with your display and everything to do with simply being safe. Kids get awful enthusiastic and if you’re into the season, you’ll inevitably be anticipating an entire horde of little monsters descending on your home to get their candy. Make sure their pathways are lighted and that there’s a clear, safe pathway to your door.

When you leave, lights out

While we’re all proud of our displays and the purpose of them is to simply show off and spread some happiness, it’s important that you turn them off when you’re not home. Not only will you save a boatload on your electrical bill; but even if you’ve checked all your safety boxes, unexplained fires can still occur. Turn it off when you’re out and err on the side of safety.

 

Above all else this year, have fun! Halloween is a blast! Good luck!