Electrical Tips & Advice (3)

Wednesday, 20 December 2017 23:49

Christmastime Electrical Safety Tips

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B
eautiful, sparkling light displays, inflatable holiday decorations, and other temporary electrical installations are all a part of the decorations for the holiday season.
 
Without a doubt, we tax our electrical system to power all these displays. While we could save energy and avoid any mishaps by skipping the electrical decorations this year, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without a few twinkling lights to enjoy.
 
Luckily you can still enjoy the lights and other holiday decorations and stay safe by following these safety tips:
 
Give Electrical Decorations a “once over”
Before hanging lights on your Christmas tree or the house, examine these decorations for any damage. Look for any bare wires, loose connections and never plug into broken or damaged sockets. Any of these issues could possibly start a fire or give you a good shock!
 
Live or Artificial Tree Safety
 According to the U.S. Fire Administration, avoidable electrical issues are the cause of one in three home Christmas tree fires. So whether you decide to use a live tree or an artificial tree to decorate and celebrate for the season, you should be aware of the potential hazards with both of these tree options.
-       Live Tree: If you are using a live tree, find a fresh one. The tree should be green with needles that don’t fall or pull off easily from the branch. Before setting the tree up, cut the trunk at a 45 degree angle and stick it in a tree stand with water to keep it fresh (and regularly check that it has water in the base). A tree that dries out due to lack of water is more likely to catch fire.
-       Artificial tree: When using an artificial tree, make sure that it is labeled as fire retardant. Artificial trees that are fire retardant aren’t free from catching on fire, but they do resist burning at a fast rate and can be put out rather quickly if it should happen.
 
Are Your Outdoor Lights…Outdoors?
If you are one of the millions-plus people that enjoy hanging lights on the outside of your house or in the trees, be sure to only use lights that are designed for outdoors. Lights specified for the outdoors are made to handle the snow, rain and other winter weather. Where lights meant for indoor use are not and may cause an electrical hazard if damaged by inclement weather.
 
Loose connections and Electrical Circuits on Overload
Poor support for outlets and switches not only look bad, but also can be potentially dangerous!! So be careful when plugging in lights and other electrical holiday decorations.
 
According to Central’s Master Electrician, Joel Zinne, Most fires that start this time of year are caused by loose connections.  “Loose” as when a cord wants to fall out of an outlet. These loose wires can arc and overheat, creating a potential fire hazard.”

Another electrical mishap to look out for is electrical outlets that are overloaded. For your own safety it is important to allocate your strand of lights among several extension cords. Extension cords include an amp rating that is not safe to exceed. If the combined amps of your lights strung together is higher than your cord can handle, you take the chance of the cord overheating and creating a fire hazard.  Rule of thumb: no more than three strands of lights should be strung together.
 
Leaving the Lights On
With all the holiday activity that goes on at this time of year, it’s easy to forget to turn the lights on or off.  Never leave the Christmas lights on when you are in bed sleeping or when you are not home. Leaving them on can become a safety issue and will increase your electric bill.  Consider getting a Christmas light timer to make this task a little easier.
 
Another Option for Lights
You may want to switch your lighting over to LED Christmas lights. They are safer, don’t get hot to touch and don’t burn out like other bulbs. Also, According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they use up to 75% less energy, and last 25 times as long!
 
Don’t Leave a Boiling Pot
Always stay in the kitchen when cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association (http://www.nfpa.org/), The leading cause of home cooking fires start due to unattended cooking equipment.  Once your holiday meal is ready to eat and enjoy, check that your oven and all the burners of your stove are turned to the off position and unplug any other kitchen appliances no longer in use before leaving the kitchen area.
 
Christmas is a time meant for family and friends, joy, laughter and the Spirit of Christmas. Taking the time to follow these tips will help ensure that your holiday is safe for you and your loved ones.

Whether you are in Kalispell, Whitefish, Bigfork, Columbia Falls or anywhere else in the Flathead Valley. . .As always, your Safety and Comfort is our 
Central concern. Call 
406-756-6656 for all your heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and drain cleaning needs.

 From all of us here at Central, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!!
 
 
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 00:00

10 Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

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Whether it’s the cold of winter or the heat of summer your electric bill can skyrocket when trying to keep your home comfortable in any season. Add to that, the electric draining gizmos we can’t live without, lights, TV’s and appliances. All which automatically expend power, even some when you have them turned off.
 
Here are 10 tips to help you lower your electric bill:
 
Tip #1:  Wear a sweater – Want to save $180.00 on your energy costs this year? In the cold months turn your thermostat down two degrees and wear a sweater. Not only will it save you money, but it will also help you burn calories!
 
Tip #2: Keep the Air Flowing – Change your furnace and air conditioning filters monthly. Keeping the air clean and flowing is good for your lungs and your electric bill. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, call CENTRAL.
 
Tip #3: Close your Curtains – In the summer to help keep you cooler on the hot days, lower your blinds and close your curtains on the sunny side of the house. To help prevent heat loss in the winter, close your curtains and blinds directly after dusk. This tip will allow you to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and help to cut down on increased electric usage.
 
Tip #4: Fill’er Up! – Your dishwasher is more water efficient and energy efficient when it is full. Research shows they also do a better job! So before you turn it on make sure that it is full!
 
Tip #5: Is it Really OFF? – A device or appliance may still be sucking electricity if it is plugged in. If a cord has a transformer, which is a small black cube at the end of the cord, you can almost count on it. If the cords to small appliances are hard to reach, plug the small appliances into a power strip and turn the power strip off when you are not using them. Devices that may need to be programmed such as clocks, DVD players and TV’s may require more work reprogramming then the savings provides.
 
Tip #6: Save by Sleeping – Spending an extra couple bucks on electronics such as, scanners, printers and other computer equipment that have, “sleep mode” can reduce the continuous draw of electricity and can save you money on your energy bill in the long run.  
 
Tip #7: The Lightbulb – A worthy investment for any household is fluorescent bulbs. Initially they are more expensive, but last about 10 times longer than the old fashion incandescent lightbulbs and can cost the same as six to 10 fluorescent bulbs.
 
Tip #8: Timing is Everything – An easy way to reduce energy costs is to install timers on your furnace and water heater. Set the timers to turn off while you sleep, and come back on just before you wake up. Otherwise, as you snooze. . . everything keeps running and you waste money.
 
Tip #9: Save Money by Preventing Wrinkles – An already warm dryer saves on energy costs. Remove laundry from the dryer when it is still warm to prevent wrinkles. Dry two or more loads in a row and take advantage of the heat inside the unit. Always remember to clean out the lint filter before adding another load. A clogged lint filter can create a safety hazard and can increase your energy use up to 30%.
 
Tip #9: Get your annual check-up – By far your biggest electricity devourer is your heating and air conditioning units. Typically they account for as much as 50% of your energy bill. By having an annual professional check-up you help ensure that they are running efficiently. You may want to consider CENTRAL’S, Comfort Care Program.
 
As you become a Comfort Care Program member you enjoy priority status with Central Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. The benefits of membership give you peace of mind in knowing that the heating and cooling equipment in your home is maintained and inspected two times a year to ensure that it is running at peak efficiency and safety. For more information:http://www.centralmt.com/about/comfort-care-program
 
As always, your Comfort is our Central concern, call 756-6656, for all your heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and drain cleaning needs.
April is Earth Month which focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency for our planet. With spring in full swing here in the “Valley”, folks are setting aside days and weekends to do some good old fashioned spring cleaning. Your springtime un-cluttering efforts can not only get your house in tip-top shape, but also decrease your energy usage, save money and provide you extra cash in your pocket.
 
“How can cleaning provide you extra cash” you may ask. . . First start by examining where you’re wasting your energy dollars. As you scour your home for dust bunnies and cob webs they are easy to find, and many are simple fixes. You just need to know where to look, and the savings will really begin to add up as your energy usage decreases.

Here’s a few simple suggestions to get you started:
  • Fans – Clean grease build up and dust your kitchen stove hood and exhaust fan. In the bathroom, dust ceiling fan covers and fan blades. Not only will it look better but also run more efficiently and save you money.

  • Clothing Dryer – Clean the lint from your filter and exhaust hose. This money savings task will also reduce the chance for an unsuspecting fire.

  • Refrigerator – Clean the front vent at the base and the dust under your refrigerator. Don’t forget to pull it away from the wall and dust off any exposed coils at the back. If you have a second refrigerator, consider retiring it. You can save up to $150.00 per year in energy costs. Plus when you turn in your old working refrigerators and freezers you can get a $50 rebate towards your bill from Flathead Electric Coop. For more information go to:http://wastenotproject.org/wheretorecycle_appliances.html.

  • Bulbs – When you are dusting your lamps and recessed lighting, see what kind of bulbs you are using. Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy saving LED lights. They are ecologically friendly and free of toxic chemicals; EXTREMELY energy efficient and consume up to 90% less power than the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. To add to the benefits, bulb replacement is much less frequent due to the long lifespan of a LED!

  • Vents here, there and everywhere – Clean and go through all your exterior vents that are accessible. To include heating system, water heater, kitchen and bath exhaust. Make sure they are all free of dust, cob webs, lint, leaves and unsuspecting critters that made homes.

  • Electronics – Many electronics draw electricity even when they are turned off. First stop overpaying to power these big energy suckers by plugging them into an advanced power strip. This automatically cuts the electricity to any idle equipment you use. So as you dust around your TV, computer, gaming and other electronic equipment, stop and take a look how you’re plugged in.

  • Keeping it cool – With spring comes the hot months of summer. As you clean remember the most important maintenance task for your air conditioner is to routinely clean and/ or replace its filters. Normal air flow is reduced with clogged and dirty filters, which reduces your system’s efficiency. Keep in mind that systems in constant use or if you have fur bearing pets in the house, you are subject to more issues.

  • Replacing Major Appliances – If you’re considering replacing one or more major appliances, you can really “clean-up” by checking out the rebate offers available to the folks in the Flathead Valley at: http://www.flatheadelectric.com/energy/Rebates.html. Choosing the smart option model will save you money and energy usage for years to come.

  • Looking at the big picture – Planning home energy savings improvements or starting from scratch with a new home? Before the busy summer renovation/ new construction season is in full swing, give CENTRAL a call and speak with a pro. We can provide you a whole home assessment and make recommendations about the best energy saving options available and that fit within your budget.  
Energy efficiency plays a role in almost every aspect of what CENTRAL provides to our customers. Whether deciding on a geothermal heat pump, a new energy efficient furnace, tankless water heater, or a properly sized air conditioning unit; we can help you decrease your overall energy usage, help with other money saving rebates and put more cash in your pocket!
 
As always, your Comfort is our Central concern, call 756-6656, for all your heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and drain cleaning needs.

Central Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electrical.
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