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
Baby proofing your home may seem like a simple process but there’s more to it than you may think. The reason being that with technology evolving at a pace never before seen, we purchase new things for our homes we may not think could cause harm to us or our children. We may not find out until much later that the new piece of tech we bought that automates all of our electricity could pose a serious danger to a crawling baby or toddler.
Most people may think baby proofing your home is as simple as adding safety plugs or outlet covers to electrical sockets. While this is a big part of it, there is way more to it than that. At Chadwick Electric, we like to educate our clients on lighting and anything else that has to do with electricity. With so many new families starting in Ft. Collins, baby proofing your home is a topic that comes up often when we install new lighting. Below, we have listed steps you need to take to start baby proofing your home right away!
How to Prevent Falls
Your new home will be full of areas where your child could potentially fall and hurt themselves. A good way to prevent falls is to never leave your baby unattended on your bed, sofa, a high chair, kitchen table, or any other area that’s too high up. Windows are a featured attraction for babies because they offer amazing views of the outside world. Over 5,000 children fall from windows each year so adding a window guard, window stop, or safety net is advised.
How to Protect from the Sun
Depending on where you live, the sun can be a much greater danger to your baby on a daily basis than usual. In Ft. Collins, where it could snow in the morning and melt by the afternoon, you’ll want to make sure you take necessary precautions to prevent skin damage and excess heat in your home.
Investing in Home Window Tinting can maintain a steady temperature and prevent the sun from overheating rooms in your home. We deal with families all the time who don’t let their children play in certain rooms because it gets too hot during the day. With home window tinting they don’t have to worry about that.
Electrical Outlets, Appliances, and Cords
Safety plugs, and outlet covers are a must in a new home with a new baby. It’s also best to hide electrical cords behind furniture or buy a hide-a-cord device. All electrical appliances should be kept out of sight and out of reach. If you have Christmas lighting in your home, you’ll need to take the same precautions as you would everything else. If you need help baby proofing your lighting fixtures, let us know and we can help!
Baby Proof your Furniture
Use edge guards to hide sharp areas on furniture. Make sure to replace shaky or wobbly furniture as kids grab and pull anything they can. Consider anchoring furniture to the wall to make sure it can’t topple over. Don’t leave anything breakable on living room furniture.
If you have any questions on lighting or need an electrician to consult with, give us a call! (970) 484-0544
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.
One of the more stressful aspects of having a young child is making sure they’re safe at all times. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to preventing electrocution or burns: tamper-proof outlets. Childproofing your home is never simple, but we have some quick tips for older outlets and suggested improvements for your Fort Collins home.
While childproofing may seem obvious, there are still issues with safety across America. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Each year, approximately 2,400 children suffer severe shock and burns when they stick items into the slots of electrical receptacles. It is estimated that there are six to 12 child fatalities a year related to this.” That’s around seven children a day, which is pretty scary.
To help you make sure your children are safe, here some answers to common questions.
When should you childproof?
Be as proactive about your child’s safety as possible. It’s never too early to make sure your outlets are child-proofed. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you’ll get every outlet covered. Additionally, trying to childproof your home becomes more and more stressful as the idea of being a new parent sets in.
Crawl around your house, through every room, and check for outlets. There may be more than you ever expected, but it’s good to know how many you’re dealing with before you go to the store. It’s also good to know just how hazardous each room is for a crawling baby.
Next, decide what kind of tamper-resistant receptacles you need, and what you can afford. Some options are more expensive than others.
What receptacle should you use for your home?
There’s no simple answer to this question. However, we can at least break down what’s available. This way, you can make an informed decision that’s best for you and your family.
Electrical outlet caps
Mommy’s Helper Outlet Plugs
These are the classic caps that you likely had growing up. They’re little plastic covers that plug directly into your outlet and are really hard to take out – even for adults. That’s where the difficulty lies. For many parents, the difficulty of removing the cap means that you’re less likely to replace it on outlets you use often. They’re also easy to misplace, creating a choking hazard.
However, their affordability is what makes them so popular. For instance, you can buy a pack of 36 on Amazon for $2.99.
Electrical outlet covers
ZizHome Universal Electric Outlet Cover
If you’re looking for a more convenient option, outlet covers are fantastic. To install, you simply replace your old cover with this plate. You don’t need to get into the wiring in order to have this self-closing cover. To use the outlet, simply slide the cover over with the plug’s prongs and it snaps back when you’re done.
The major setback is that these are more expensive than the caps. But what you lose in cash you make up for in peace of mind. You can also use the covers for your most-used outlets and place caps on the ones you rarely use.
Electrical outlet deep covers
LectraLock Deep cover
For even more convenience that’s around the same price as the above cover, you can use this deep cover. It’s easy to install and easy for adult’s to remove–but not children. The great thing about this cover is that it prevents babies from pulling the plug out of the outlet.
The manufacturer, LectraLock, is also made in America.
Options for power cords and extension cords
If you need more protection beyond your standard outlets, Parent Guide has an excellent guide to what products to look for: https://parent.guide/how-to-baby-proof-everything-electrical/
What’s the best option for childproofing electrical outlets?
If you have an older home, you should consider upgrading your outlets to tamper-resistant receptacles. They have built-in shutters that make it incredibly difficult to insert anything other than a plug into the outlet.
Image courtesy of Electrical Safety Foundation International
These are now common in homes built from 2008 and on, but even in new homes, it’s smart to make sure your home has them. To tell the difference, look inside the vertical slots. If they’re open, you need to baby proof them using the above methods. If they’re filled in, you’re good to go. TR receptacles are relatively inexpensive, and the peace of mind is what you’re really paying for.
To upgrade the outlets in your Fort Collins or Windsor home with tamper-resistant receptacles, call us today 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.
Your family’s safety is probably your top priority, but are you doing everything possible to ensure that safety? Maybe one thing you’re missing is effective security lighting on the exterior of your home. Having a well-planned system will not only make you feel more secure, it’ll deter intruders from invading your space. Intruders don’t like the light. A well-lit exterior is the first line of defense for your family. To make sure you have the best outdoor security lighting system for your Fort Collins home, here are some tips to follow.
How to place your lights
Security lighting should be well thought-out and specific to your home’s architecture and landscape. The wrong placement or brightness could be the difference between an intruder running away and finding their way inside. First, make sure there won’t be any large blind spots. You can do this by placing more soft lighting versus a few bright spotlights. Softer lighting allows the light to dissipate more evenly across larger surface areas. Bright light is more concentrated, making it easier to create blind spots.
Next, make sure you secure all sides of your house. Most people just focus on the front and back yards, neglecting the other sides of their structures. This makes non-lit areas easy targets for intruders. For infrequently used sides, install motion or heat sensitive lights to scare intruders. For high-traffic areas, you can install lighting that complements your home.
Once you’ve decided where your lights should be, you need to figure out how to place them. The higher your security lights, the better. However, they should all be facing downward and you need to make sure they’ll emit the right amount of light. Lights placed too high with not enough brightness won’t scare anyone off–you may not even notice the light. Lights placed too low with too much illumination will create blind spots.
You also want your lights facing down for a reason. Too much glare in your neighbors’ eyes will deter them from looking at your house when the lights turn on. This means they won’t look to notice an intruder. You need them to see what’s going on in your yard, especially if it’s on a side of the house you can’t see.
Lights are also placed high to deter tampering. Hardwiring your security lights is a great option, but it’s not always feasible. For that reason, you need to make sure that the wiring is hard to access. You can also use solar options for areas that get a good amount of sun during the day. Also, make sure your power box has its own security light, just in case.
Finally, make sure you use white or clear bulbs for your security lighting. Color bulbs are perfect for accenting or adding some fun elements to your landscaping, but should not be used for security. They make it too hard to clearly see what set off the motion sensor.
Security lighting maintenance
Once you’ve installed the perfect security lighting system, you need to make sure it does its job – all the time. Changing burnt-out bulbs immediately is incredibly important. So is cleaning off dust and other debris on a regular basis. The best approach to this is establishing a routine that’s easy to follow. For example, checking all of the bulbs and wiping off the lights at the beginning of every month. Yes, every month. You also want to check the wiring and photocells if you have solar lights, as well as trim any trees or shrubs that make it difficult to see out your windows.
A final note: You should not rely on security lighting alone for safety. A well-rounded exterior lighting system is one of the best ways to deter intruders. This includes having permanent and motion sensor lighting that work together. Having a front porch light is important as is having lights above every entrance. Put these lights on timers for added security when you’re not home.
You need a professional electrician to install hard-wired security lighting, so call Chadwick Electric Services today for your Fort Collins or Windsor home.
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 the winter months, you’re going to be spending a lot of time indoors, which is a good thing unless your smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide detectors are malfunctioning. In order to ensure that your family will stay safe, regular smoke alarm and CO detector maintenance is incredibly important.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are more than a million fires every year and an average of 3,000 deaths related to fires. The CDC also reports that each year, more than 400 deaths result from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires. These deaths are all avoidable with working detection systems in place. The National Fire Protection Agency tells us that the death rate is doubled in homes without working smoke alarms, so protect your family and follow these tips to keep your family safe.
Maintenance Tips for Your Smoke Alarm and CO Detector
- Check the batteries every six months by testing the detector. Change the batteries at least once a year. If it’s chirping, change the batteries right away. If you have a 10-year battery in your detector, replace the entire device immediately.
- Test the system once a month. Press the test button on your device to verify that it’s functioning properly. This will also get you and your family familiar with the sound of the alarm.
- Dust the unit on a monthly basis to remove debris and grease from its exterior. Give it a more thorough clean twice a year by using a vacuum attachment. This will get the dust buildup and cobwebs out of the interior.
- Check your manufacturer’s instructions for expiration dates and be prepared to replace your unit as the date approaches.
Additional Safety Tips
- In the case of a fire or carbon monoxide emergency, create and practice a home escape plan. These won’t necessarily match each other. For most CO alarms, you may be able to call for help from an open window, but you need to get far from your home in the case of a house fire.
- To avoid CO buildup, clear any snow from your vents for the stove, furnace, dryer, and fireplace after snowstorms.
- The NFPA suggests having the smoke alarms throughout your house interconnected. This may be a task for a professional electrician.
If you need any assistance installing or replacing the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your Fort Collins home, please contact us immediately. Don’t let your family go a day without the proper safety precautions. Call us today: 970-457-4099
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.