Have you ever thought about how much energy your home’s devices use? Unfortunately, it’s probably more than you think. The reason for that is that so many of them are now using constant energy. While this makes life more convenient, it’s good to know exactly where all of that energy use is coming from.
As Tatiana Schlossberg tells us in the New York Times article, “Just How Much Power Do Your Electronic Devices Use When They’re ‘Off?’, approximately 50 devices in your home will constantly consume energy, even when they’re off. Those devices can range from your cable box to your coffee machine. For more on those devices, read the full article here.
How is this affecting your home?
What does it mean that so many devices are actually on when they’re off? According to a 2015 report by the National Resources Defense Council, the energy costs from inactive devices can be as much as $165 per U.S. household annually. They’ve noticed an upward trend in the number of always-on devices a house has due to the digitization of even common appliances. That increase is due to the various “smart” devices that now connect to the internet, such as washers and dryers.
If you happen to have a smartphone or a laptop, chances are you have at least one device that is constantly drawing power. Unfortunately, not many of us stop at one device. We may have TVs connecting to the internet, Apple TV or some kind of streaming device, game consoles, even our routers are constantly using energy. In 2014, U.S. Americans used an average of 12,986 kilowatthours (kWh). Compare this to the 5,219 kWh that the United Kingdom used for that same year and you can see that we’re consuming a lot of energy.
What can you do to reduce your energy usage?
Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of power your appliances are using when they’re idle. There are five actionable steps you can take right now and in the future to cut down on your energy usage.
- Unplug devices that aren’t used very often. These can be entertainment units in guest bedrooms, second or third refrigerators, and even the furnace in the summer.
- Use a power strip for devices that can all be turned off at once. Everything connected to your entertain center can be turned off at once: TV, speaker bar, Blu-Ray player, etc., so can your computer and its accessories.
- Plug appliances into a timer to turn them off when they’re not typically in use. Those include the hot water recirculation pump, instant coffee machine, and towel heater.
- Adjust power settings where available. This option can typically be found on televisions with a “quick start” setting, your laptop for inactivity – and turn it off when it’s not in use, and your game console if it’s on “instant on” mode.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR™-labeled equipment and appliances to minimize idle load, which is a main requirement.
You can also go to www.UnplugStuff.com to see how much energy your home is using when it’s idle.
If you’d like to talk to a licensed electrician in Fort Collins or Windsor about making your home more energy efficient, call Chadwick Electric Services today! 970-457-4099
Throughout many of our blog posts, we have mentioned how various aspects of electrical systems need to meet “electrical code”. But what exactly does that mean? As professional electricians serving Fort Collins and Windsor, we are up to date on the National Electrical Code and its updates. While the code may not always affect your home, it’s may be useful to know what it is.
The National Electrical Code Breakdown
Despite its name, the NEC is not federal law and needs to be regionally adopted in order to be enforced. However, the code presents standards for “electrical safety in residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies”. National Fire Protection Agency develops the NEC as part of their National Fire Codes. It was first published in 1987 to codify well-known best practices and help cities avoid civil liability lawsuits. Its main goal, however, is to protect residents from negligent practices that would result in loss of life or property.
Because of its overarching influence, electricians will spend years apprenticing and practicing the NEC standards before acquiring their license. Not every requirement of the code is adopted by states or municipalities, however. That is the reason electricians need local licenses in order to practice their craft. The NFPA also offers certification programs for contractors to demonstrate their competency with the code.
The code itself is publicly available as a 1000-page book. But because of its size, a few experts will release summaries of the major changes made every three years. Updates and amendments are released every three years, though it may take a couple of years for states to adopt the newest version. Each version of the NEC covers everything from the installation of connections to requirements for communications systems. They also include an index and annexes for implementation.
Even though the code is publicly available, there are still mistakes commonly made. That’s why electrical inspections are so important. That’s also why you should hire a professional with a strong understanding of local codes. Best practices keep you, your family and your home safe.
There are a few reasons you may need to upgrade your electrical panel in your Fort Collins home. However, in order to understand why, you should know what the panel is. In order to help you make the best decision about your home’s electrical panel, here’s a quick overview and some tips. After all, an informed homeowner saves the most money.
What does the electrical panel do?
Your electrical panel is the main hub of all of the electricity that flows through your home. While your main power line goes through the meter box, your electrical panel is responsible for the distribution of electricity to smaller branch lines. Those branch lines are indicated by the switches on the panel – each going to an area or appliance that needs power. The breaker box houses the panel. Each panel should have labels to where the branches go and how many amps they can carry. This amp limit determines when the breaker switch will trip.
How do I know when to upgrade my electrical panel?
With the median home age in Fort Collins being 26 years, you may be living in a home with an older panel. That’s not automatically a bad thing, but there are things to watch for to know if you need an upgrade.
First, pay attention to how often the circuit breakers trip. If your breakers are tripping often, it may be a sign that your electrical panel is malfunctioning. If this continues for too long, the breaker may eventually stop tripping, which can lead to electrical shock or even an electrical fire.
Next, watch and listen. You should get your panel inspected as soon as possible if you notice the lights flickering and/or hear crackling sounds.
Better safe than sorry!
Any problems with your electricity should be inspected as soon as you notice them. However, you should call an electrician who will properly diagnose your issue and make appropriate recommendations. Chadwick Electric Services will never do unnecessary work just to make money. So call us today for your inspection at 970-457-4099.
Are you noticing an increase in how often your circuit breaker trips? Or maybe you’ve installed a new appliance and it keeps tripping its breaker. If either of those is the case, you may need to install or replace a dedicated circuit for your Fort Collins home.
What is a dedicated circuit?
A dedicated circuit is one with its own breaker for use with a single appliance. It’s separate from the main electrical circuit to prevent large appliances from overloading the circuits to which they’re connected.
The National Electrical Code requires that every critical-use appliance has its own dedicated circuit. However, for the most protection from overload, you should have dedicated circuits for every large appliance. These are generally appliances that use more than 20 amps of electricity.
Which appliances need dedicated circuits?
It’s important that you know how much electricity your appliances are using before you install them. Most larger appliances use at least 20 amps of power and most critical-use appliances will use 30 amps of power (water heaters, furnaces, central air units). Therefore, you should install a dedicated circuit before you have a problem.
These are the appliances that usually need a dedicated circuit:
- Electric ranges
- Garbage disposals
- Water heaters
- Heating and air conditioning units
- Garage door openers
- Sump pumps
- Water pumps
- Whirlpools, Jacuzzis, hot tubs, saunas
Upgrade your circuit breaker
Many older homes need to update their electrical wiring and install more dedicated circuits to handle modern appliances. You’ll know your home doesn’t have enough dedicated circuits if the circuit breaker is constantly tripping. If you don’t update your system, you run the risk of overloading your circuits enough to cause an electrical fire in your home.
Chadwick Services offers free inspections. Take advantage of our professional services to upgrade your system. Call us today 970-457-4099.
If you’re interested in reducing the costs associated with central heat, a space heater may be perfect for your Fort Collins home. By using a strategy called “zone heating,” you can turn your most-used rooms into comfortable spaces and reduce your thermostat. This reduces the amount of energy your home uses. However, you should know how to buy and use your space heater safely. We suggest that you call Chadwick Services to inspect your electrical system before plugging it in.
Before you buy your space heater
First, know how much space you’re heating. Indoor space heaters are measured by watts. Buying a heater that emits too much wattage may result in higher energy bills. Meanwhile, too little wattage won’t heat your space and may overheat. According to Sylvan, a general rule of thumb, “roughly 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of floor area in the room.”
For safety reasons, make sure the unit you’re looking at is Safety Certified by a company like UL, which independently tests for safety. Also, ensure the cord is heavy duty and long enough to reach the outlet. You can also buy units with safety features like tip-over, overheat, and touch protection.
Before you turn it on
When you get home, check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they’re functioning properly. Next, don’t place your space heater on any furniture and keep it at least three feet away from combustible furniture. This includes beds, sofas, window treatments, rugs, etc.
Keep the space heater away from water and establish a child and pet-free zone. Enforce the zone at all times and don’t allow anyone to operate the heater without proper training.
Make sure the space heater is securely plugged directly into the unit. You increase your chance of fires by using an extension cord or by running the unit’s cord under a rug. Regularly inspect the cord to make sure it’s not frayed, cracked, or broken.
Regular safety maintenance
In addition to checking the cord, make sure you turn your space heater off every time you leave the bed or go to bed. Don’t leave a space heater on overnight or when you’re not monitoring it. Some units come with a timer that will allow you to control when it’s on or off, but it’s a good idea to make sure it turns off.
As we discussed before, perform regular maintenance on your smoke and CO detectors.
Types of space heaters:
Now that you know how to use your space heater safely, here are the types you will likely choose from. A word of caution: never use a gas-powered heater indoors. Those should only be used in well-ventilated spaces.
Oil-filled space heaters are great for small rooms or for personal use. They’re usually portable and come with handles and wheels to move from room to room. The oil inside never needs to be replaced and they’re silent because they don’t use fans.
Ceramic space heaters are among the most common and use fan-forced air. They’re compact and are ideal for areas up to 150-square-feet.
Infrared space heaters are generally the most energy efficient. They’re great for personal use because they produce heat quickly and without a fan.
While you shouldn’t use these types of space heaters to heat your entire home or treat them as a long-term heating solution, they can be very useful and efficient in the winter months.
Inspect your wiring before installing a space heater by calling Chadwick Electric Services today.
One of the most important–yet often neglected–parts of your bathroom is the exhaust fan. Unfortunately, because it’s usually out of sight, out of mind, it’s hard to know whether your exhaust fan is really doing its job. We have a few tips to share so you can know that yours is the right one for your home.
What is an exhaust fan?
While this may seem like a silly question, most people don’t know how their fan actually works. This isn’t a surprise since most of its parts are invisible. However, you should be informed of at least its basic functions. This will allow you to choose the correct fan for your bathroom.
The fan ventilates the hot, humid air out of your bathroom through a duct that typically runs through the ceiling and releases air to the outside. It’s also useful for removing odors, dust, and allergens. But its most important job is making sure that mold and mildew don’t grow. An unventilated bathroom is the perfect breeding ground for mold spores to spread. Too much moisture can also damage your walls and ceiling, which is why exhaust fans are so important.
Do I have the right fan for my bathroom?
Exhaust fans are rated by their airflow capacity, is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. A good rule of thumb for proper CFM for your room is at least one per square foot. We say at least because you want to make sure that you have more than you need. For example, if you have a bathroom with 66 square feet, you want a CFM rating of 70 to ensure proper ventilation.
For larger bathrooms, you may need more specific measurements, though. If your bathroom is larger than 100 sq. ft., you should measure by the number and type of fixtures you have:
- Toilets need 50 CFM
- Showers need 50 CFM
- Jetted tubs need 100 CFM
- Bathtubs need 50 CFM
So if you have a bathtub, a shower, and a toilet (in the same room), you need a fan with at least 150 CFM. Additionally, if you have a separate room for your shower or toilet, a 50 CFM fan should suffice for that area.
For bathrooms with ceilings higher than eight feet, you should take the ceiling’s height into consideration. The standard way to determine what CFM you need for high ceilings is as follows: Multiply the room’s square footage by the ceiling height. Divide that number by 6o (since the rate is per minute), then multiply by 8, which is the recommended number of air exchanges per hour. Round up for the correct CFM. Here’s an example of a room that measures 110 sq. ft. with a 9-foot ceiling:
- 110 X 9 = 990
- 990 / 60 = 16.5
- 16.5 X 8 = 132
- Rounded up = 140 CFM needed
How do I know mine is working properly?
There are a few signs that let you know if you need to repair or replace your current exhaust fan. If you hear vibrating noises that keep getting louder, that a good sign that you need some repairs. If the fan randomly stops running when you don’t turn it off or it doesn’t turn on at all, you may need to replace it.
Do I need an electrician to install or replace my exhaust fan?
Generally, you need at least an HVAC specialist to ensure the fan will ventilate properly and not cause more moisture problems. However, hiring an electrician is a good idea, especially if you’re installing a brand new fan where there wasn’t one before. The reason is that you will need additional wiring to separate your light wiring from the wiring you need for the fan. It’s not recommended that you tackle this yourself, so give us a call and we’ll make sure your wiring is up to code. For assistance with your exhaust fan in Fort Collins or Windsor, contact us today.
In Colorado, we’re lucky to have some of the most comfortable weather year-round to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re able to have a great backyard, you want to make sure you can spend time outside whenever you want, which is why it’s a good idea to ensure your outdoor lighting in Fort Collins and Windsor meets all your needs.
How you know you need to update and add to your current lighting:
- Do you have beautiful trees or statues in your landscaping that just disappear at night? That’s really unfortunate because you should be showing off the outdoor elements that personalize your exterior. Use uplighting to highlight trees, large shrubs or statues. Conversely, any paths should be downlit. To best complement your focal points, light man-made objects with a golden hue, while plants should be bathed in blue light.
- Are your pathways are hard to see? People should be able to comfortably navigate your landscaping, which means you may need to install a series of lights along any pathways. However, make sure the lights act as subtle hints. You don’t need to create a ballpark or airplane landing for people to understand where the path is leading them.
- Does your water feature gets lost at night? Whether you have a fountain, a pond, a pool, or a waterfall, you want to be able to bring attention to in a subtle manner. Waterproof lights are great for fountains and to peek out from under waterfalls. String lights reflect well off of pools and soft downlighting is a beautiful choice for ponds or waterfalls.
- What’s the use of having a living or dining space outside if you can’t use it at night? Add ambient lighting by installing overhead or spotlighting, or go with moonlighting that cascades from your tall trees. If you choose overhead lighting, install a dimmer switch to control the amount of light and how you want it experienced.
- Do you have a pleasant seating area set off from the rest of your yard? Wouldn’t it be nice to let people know that it’s there? Define your spaces with a mixture of uplighting and downlighting, but make sure it’s subtle and allows for some intimacy.
- Do you feel safe at night? Motion-sensor floodlights can increase your sense of security. Or just having enough light surrounding your house is usually a good way to keep suspicious characters and curious wildlife from wandering into your yard.
- Does your house look flat at night? Capitalize on shadows created from stone or brick siding, or showcase your home’s incredible architecture by having a well-planned lighting design. Make sure you install lights in your landscaping as well, to soften the effect of the lights and the silhouette they’ll create.
Whether you need to add a few lights or overhaul your entire exterior, you may need to hire a professional electrician for installation. Chadwick Electric Services can ensure your outdoors are safe and all wiring is up to code.
Make sure your lighting lasts and works for you. Call us today.
Don’t worry. We understand that you really want to save money by tackling your electric problem on your own. But are you setting yourself up for even higher costs and safety risks if you don’t hire a qualified, licensed electrician? Chances are, you are. Hiring a reliable and local company like Chadwick Services for your Northern Colorado electric service will save you time, money, and headaches. Here’s why.
- Licensing: We are licensed by the State of Colorado, which means we have proven that we have trained the required number of hours, receive ongoing training, know all state codes and regulations, and make safety our number one priority.
- Permits: Before your project begins, you know that all necessary permits will be pulled to ensure quality and safety.
Inspections: When you have the proper permit for your electrical service, you can guarantee the job is up to code. If anything’s amiss, we fix it for you. Simple as that.
Insurance: Not only is Chadwick Electric fully insured and bonded, we can help you avoid any fights over your home insurance that may result from do-it-yourself electrical projects.
Safety: As we mentioned earlier, safety is our number one priority – and it should be yours, too. Don’t put your home and family at risk by tackling a job that should be handled by a professional.
Knowledge: As the saying goes: “A little knowledge can be dangerous,” which is why it’s important to let a professional work on your electrical problem. Even if you know a few things about how electricity works, our extensive knowledge and expertise allow us to solve a problem quicker, more efficiently, and much safer.
Longevity: We all know that person who tries to fix their own plumbing only to have it break over and over again. While there are risks to water leaking, electrical fires are much scarier. When you hire Chadwick Services, you have a guarantee that your wiring will be done right, saving you money and headaches.
Troubleshooting: Almost every project will have some kind of surprise. Most of the time, it’s small and can be easily fixed – unless you try to fix it yourself. Then it can become a much larger problem that could’ve easily been taken care of by an experienced electrician.
It’s Complicated: This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people forget or don’t understand the complexities of a home’s wiring. Since it’s all connected in some way, a small mistake can spell disaster. Maybe not right away, but you’ll notice it – and it could be incredibly expensive.
Guarantee: When you hire Chadwick Electrical Services in Windsor, you have a guarantee that the work will be done right the first time. The same can’t be said for the neighborhood handyman or yourself.
Proper Wiring: Not all wiring is created equal. Choosing the correct wiring for the job will avoid disasters big and small.
Proper Tools: As a DIYer, you won’t always have the tools that you need to tackle complicated tasks related to electrical repairs. We do.
If you’re at all concerned about saving money and time or the safety of your family, call us before you start any electrical repairs. We’re available 24/7 for emergency services and for all installation services. Electricity can kill you, so better safe than sorry, right?
Are you one of those people who turns your ceiling fan off during the winter? Sure, it makes sense because you don’t want cool air circulating while you’re trying to stay warm. However, you could be missing out on a major money-saving opportunity.
Use your ceiling fan year round
According to Energy Star, you should be using your ceiling fan year round to save both energy and money. In the summer months, your fan should be spinning counter-clockwise to create a wind-chill effect. Since you don’t want cooler air in the winter, you should reverse the blades’ direction. There is a simple switch inside your fan for this. Running your ceiling fan clockwise at a low speed will push down the warm air that collects near your ceiling.
This technique can lower energy consumption in the winter by up to 15 percent! You’ll reduce the need for in-room heat devices, such as space heaters, that produce heat but don’t circulate it throughout the room. You’re also able to reduce your thermostat by a couple of degrees since the heat won’t get trapped at the ceiling.
If you have an older fan that doesn’t have a reverse switch, you should consider updating it to a newer model so you can take advantage of this money-saving technique.
Be sure that you dust and clean your fan blades and ensure your wiring is still secure. Also, don’t forget to replace the bulbs while you’re up there.
If you’d like to install a ceiling fan or have your wiring inspected for safety before winter starts in Fort Collins, call Chadwick Electric Services today.
With cooler evenings comes the desire to retreat to the hot tub and sink into the warm water. But are you making sure that you remain safe while you relax? We’ve compiled 20 hot tub safety tips to keep in mind while you enjoy your soak.
- Ensure you have proper wiring. You need to make sure that your hot tub’s wiring complies with the National Electrical Code, which includes an emergency shutoff that is accessible, visible, and at least 5 ft. away. You also want to make sure your hot tub is properly installed and plugged in (no extension cords!).
- Beware of electricity. Keep electrical appliances away. Instead, use battery-operated appliances around the hot tub and keep extension cords as far from the water as possible.
- Supervise all children. Don’t turn your back for even a minute while children are in the hot tub. Children are more prone to overheating and need lower temperatures to remain safe. Consult your pediatrician for the right temperature or if you want to bring in a child younger than five.
- Establish rules. Expecting good behavior from all of your guests, including the adults, is always good, but especially when you’re in or near water. Running, jumping, diving, and pushing should be strictly prohibited, as should standing on the hot tub cover.
- Prepare for emergencies. Make sure all guests know where the emergency shutoff switch is before they get in the tub. It’s also a good idea to know CPR and have a first-aid kit on hand.
- Check your water. If your water is cloudy, don’t get in! Cloudy water is an indication that it’s unsanitary and could cause skin infections. Stock up on a good sanitizer and regularly test the bacteria to make sure your water remains safe. Remember: never add water to acid, always add acid to water.
- Safely store cleaning supplies and chemicals. Make sure all of your supplies and chemicals are stored out of reach of children and pets. They should also be in a cool, dry location.
- Shower before and after use. This is not only proper etiquette, it can also keep out bacteria that will thrive in your hot tub’s warm environment.
- Don’t wear street clothes. Everything worn in the hot tub should be clean.
- Beware of storms. You should never use your hot tub before, during, or immediately after extreme weather conditions, especially electrical storms.
- Maintain a safe temperature. Many hot tubs come with a factory setting of 104° F, but most users are more comfortable between 102° and 100° F. Children generally need less than 100° F.
- Check for skin infections and open wounds. Because bacteria love warm environments, entering a hot tub with existing infections or open wounds will help spread infection.
- Be aware of any health issues. Before you climb into a hot tub, make sure you know how you will react if you have an illness such as diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or are pregnant.
- Don’t use drugs. Speaking of an illness, check with your doctor to make sure you won’t have a reaction while on medication. Also, be smart about your recreational use.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Another big no-no is drinking while hot tubbing. Alcohol use can increase your chances of having a heart attack or passing out and drowning while you’re in the hot tub.
- Use plastic containers. If you do have food or (non-alcoholic) drinks around, make sure you use plastic instead of glass or anything else that could shatter in the hot tub. It’s better to be safe than cut yourself in the tub while trying to retrieve or avoid shards.
- Check your drain and suction covers. Make sure your hot tub is compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act with the proper drain cover and suction covers.
- Don’t use a hot tub alone. Accidents and emergencies are easily avoided when you soak with a friend or family member.
- Install handrails and anti-skid devices. Getting out of and into hot tubs safely should be a priority. You can use treads on your steps, mats around the tub, sand paint on your deck, or similar measures.
- Always cover and lock the tub when it’s not in use. Check your cover periodically to make sure it still fits snuggly, all locks and latches are functioning properly, and that you lock the hot tub every time.
Hot tub safety is no joke. Neither is its wiring. If you’re worried about your current hot tub’s wiring or need to install a new spa, call us today. We are the experts you need in Fort Collins and Windsor.