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Understanding Electricity: The 5 Hidden Mysteries of Electricity

You use it every day, but do you really understand electricity? It’s important, because, without understanding electricity, it’s hard to maintain electrical safety in your home. In order to understand electricity, you basically need to grasp five key concepts; we like to call them the five hidden mysteries of electricity.

  • Mystery Number One: The kWh and understanding your utility bill. Do you know what a kWh is? A watt measures the amount of energy a device is using, and 1000 watts add up to a kilowatt. When you use 1000 watts of energy for an hour, it adds up to a kilowatt-hour, abbreviated kWh. Your electric company measures your kWh to determine your energy usage and, by extension, your cost. Often companies charge a higher rate per kWh for those who use more energy overall, so it’s a good idea to take a look at your bill and see how you’re doing, month to month.
  • Mystery Number Two: The importance of turning off the lights. “Turn out the lights” is more than just the favorite saying of dads around the world; it is a reliable way to save energy and money. However, what your dad may not have told you is that there are many other much more effective ways to cut down on energy consumption. For instance, in addition to turning off your lights, make sure you replace old incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which cut energy costs by about 70 percent. You can also save money by bumping up your thermostat, turning off appliances that aren’t in use, choosing Energy Star compliant appliances, running your dishwasher only when it’s full and washing your clothes in cold water whenever possible. These are just a few of the many ways to save on electricity, but if you can remember to turn off the lights, you’re making a good start.
  • Mystery Number Three: The dangers of electricity. We learn from an early age that electricity can be dangerous, but what does that really mean? Electricity is a powerful force, and when it flows into your home unchecked, it can cause serious damage and even a house fire. That’s why you need to be sure your circuit breakers are in working order and the electrical system in your house is up-to-date. Another important aspect of electrical safety is understanding its conduction. For instance, water is a very effective conductor of electricity, so it’s crucial that you keep all plugged in appliances such as hair dryers away from water. If you’re ever in flooded conditions, avoid walking into flooded areas until they’ve been cleared by the utility company.
  • Mystery Number Four: The power outage. Power outages and surges are usually caused by lightning strikes. The lightning doesn’t need to strike your home to knock out your home electricity; it can be a half-mile away and have the same effect. Unfortunately, the electronic devices in our homes are extremely vulnerable to damage from power surges and outages, so it’s important to take steps to protect them. Unplug electronics that you aren’t using, especially in stormy weather.
  • Mystery Number Five: Installations, electricians and intentions. Does your electrician really have your best interest at heart? Whenever there’s a housing boom, there are people who jump on the “contractor” bandwagon without the necessary experience or ethics to provide high-quality service. Look for a referral-based company with licensed, certified electricians and a reputation for good work and reliable service. A true professional will work not only to make your home safer and help you save energy but also to help you understand electricity so you can be an informed consumer.

We hope we’ve made electricity a little less mysterious and provided information that leaves you better able to understand electricity. At ElectricMan, we want to be your go-to source, whether you need information about electricity or professional help with an electrical installation, project or service. A family-owned business, we offer quality electrical services because we only employ professional, licensed, certified electricians. Don’t ever hesitate to call. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Rain or shine, we’ll be there to fix any electrical emergencies that may come up! Visit ElectricMan’s website to learn more, or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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Deck the Halls…Safely

If you’ve ever seen “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” you’ll know that Clark Griswold’s perception of Christmas decorating is a bit extreme.  Although that movie is comical, in reality electrical safety is no laughing matter, and an electrical fire can ruin your holidays instantly.  Here are a few holiday decorating safety tips.

  1. Check your smoke detector. The holidays are a great time to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detector is working properly.  Studies have shown that when houses have working smoke detectors, the chance of death from fire is cut in half. Having all of your loved ones in your home can be a great reminder of the importance of fire safety.
  2. Buy the right equipment. Make sure that any decorations you purchase are UL-listed.  UL is an independent organization that tests products to make sure they’re safe for use.   If you don’t see the little UL symbol on the decoration, don’t buy it.  Also, be sure to purchase at least one surge protector and some power conditioners for your lights.
  3. Don’t overdo it. As tempting as it is to plaster the outside of your house with holiday lights, it’s important to decorate responsibly.  Typically, no more than three strands of lights should be connected end-to-end to prevent overheating.  Also, be cautious of older houses, as the old wiring could be too weak to handle the amount of lights you want to plug in.  Keep in mind that there are over 2 million houses in the DFW area that are more than 20 years old.  The last thing you want to do is blow a circuit and have to call an electrician during the holidays.
  4. Keep your tree watered. According to the US Fire Administration, Christmas trees cause 250 fires each year, resulting in 14 deaths, 26 injuries, and over $13.8 million in damage.  If your tree isn’t watered enough, an electrical short in your lights or an open flame can turn your tree into a giant fireball.  Making sure your tree is properly watered is a great form of fire prevention.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and loved ones, and by following these few safety tips, you can help to make sure you’re not a victim of a “Clark Griswold” Christmas.  If you want to learn more about your home’s current electrical state, contact the best electrician Plano has to offer.

Happy Holidays!

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