Be Careful with Space Heaters

Using space heaters safely

For us in Florida, most of the year is spent blasting the air conditioning to stay cool.  But during those few short months of the year we’re in now when we do get cold, it is certainly something we’re not used to – unlike our northern friends.

And for many of us the temptation is there to use a space heater instead of the heat cycle on your air conditioner. With the little bit of chill we’ve experience of late, that temptation is rising.

With a space heater, we can efficiently heat individual rooms quickly and not impact the rest of our home.  Instead of heating the entire household, using a space heater can provide the convenience of heating whatever room(s) you want at a much lower cost. For example, a 1500-watt space heater operating four hours a day for 30 days would use about 180 kilowatt hours of electricity.  It would cost about $11 to operate the space heater for the month.

While space heaters can be useful, it is also important to use them properly to keep your family and home safe. As many as 45 percent of heating fires resulting in a fatality involved portable heaters, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Make sure that if you choose to heat your home with a space heater this winter, you keep these tips in mind to stay safe:

  • Always check that the space heater, plug and cord are clean and in good condition before use.
  • Keep space heaters out of high traffic areas and away from any combustible liquids or flammable items.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface and never in enclosed areas like below a desk.
  • Never leave a space heater operating while unattended, even if you are sleeping.
  • Do not use an extension cord or power strip with your space heater, and never run the heater’s cords underneath a rug or carpet.
  • Make sure the space heater doesn’t overload your circuit breaker by ensuring that the amps are compatible. A typical circuit is on a 15-amp breaker, so a single heater that draws 12-15 amps might trip the circuit.

Exterior Office Lighting After the Time Change

Exterior Office Lighting After the Time Change

It was about a month ago that we fell back – turning our clocks back one hour.

For many of us that means getting up and going to work in daylight – something that may not have been happening only days before. But it may also mean that at the end of your work day, you’re leaving your place of business in the dark.

There are many reasons for having good lighting in the evening when you or your employees are headed to the parking lot in the dark – not the least of which is safety. If you’re an employer, you certainly want your staff to feel safe coming and going from your place of business.

The time change serves as a great reminder to think about your business outdoor security lighting.

If your office outdoor lighting is controlled by an on/off switch in your office, it may be time to think about an upgrade to an automatic system.

This could be as simple as a timer that you adjust manually on a seasonal basis. And there are more advanced options that can allow you to set the outdoor lighting based on how light or dark it is. You can set your outdoor security light so it’s on only when you want it to be, and the brightness can even be adjusted to be brighter when someone steps in front of it. The same controls will keep the lights off during daylight.

If you’re not sure what your exterior lights can do, we will be happy to examine them and upgrade your system if needed.

Safety with Holiday Lights

Safety with Holiday Lights

Thanksgiving has just passed. That means it is time for many of us to decorate our homes for the holidays. This decoration often includes colorful lighting and that means electricity. So that means safety needs to be considered.

Holiday lighting must always be placed with caution and care. That starts with old lighting. If you’re using lights from previous years, you need to check the strands for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections. And if you’re using new lights, inspect them carefully as well. Even though they are new, there may be problems with them.

So as we do here every year, we are offering some lighting tips to help make sure you have a safe holiday season.

#1 Inspect Light Strings

Discard any that are damaged because they may be a fire hazard.

#2 Replace Burned-Out Bulbs

Empty sockets may cause the entire string to overheat so replace them as soon as possible.

#3 Make Sure Outdoor Lighting is Weather Resistant

It is extremely important to make sure you are buying the correct lighting for the conditions you are using it in. The same goes for extension cords.

#4 Don’t Attach Light Strings with Nails or Staples

They can cut through the wire insulation and create a fire hazard. Instead use outdoor-approved hangers.

#5 Take Exterior Lights Down Within 90 Days

Sometimes we get lazy and leave lights up for months after the holiday season. The longer they stay up, the more likely they are to suffer damage, so remove them as soon as possible.

#6 Store Lights Safely

Tangled lights can lead to damaged cords and empty sockets. After the holidays, wrap each string loosely around a piece of cardboard, fold fabric over it to protect the bulbs, and store it in a container until next year.

As always, if you have any concerns with your holiday lights, call us at Eaton Electric. We will be glad to help.

Electrical Safety Advice for Parents and Children

As a result of the ways that we use electricity and our reliance on these devices, our homes are filled with potential dangers for our children. A great number of people are injured or even killed as a consequence of electricity each year. Therefore, it is important for parents with children in their households to address these issues especially since the majority of small children are naturally curious when it comes to electrical outlets, but they don’t always know how dangerous electricity can be.

Many new homes come equipped with tamper-resistant outlets. That’s the safest way to keep your inquisitive children from exploring outlets. If you home does not already have tamper-resistant outlets, a qualified electrician can install them.

While appliances and electricity are essential for our home and lifestyle, there are fundamental things that parents should know in order to avoid any accidents and protect their children against high-risk hazards.

First and foremost, it is important that parents make sure that no electrical outlets are left uncovered. Young children are intrigued by outlets, and they’re tempted to stick their fingers, or even a fork inside. So, parents should cover the electrical outlets around their home and inspect the house carefully to avoid risk of electrical shock.

Another way to reduce the danger of electrical shock is to store appliances out of reach, this can be inside high storage cabinets or hidden away on a shelf. It is the responsibility of the parent to teach their children how to properly plug and unplug cords from the power outlets. By all means, this should be done preferably once the child is of a suitable age. Children also need to be taught about electrical safety, this can include teaching them not to put any toys or objects inside the power outlets.

In addition to this, just as parents educate their children about not touching hot surfaces, or the importance of wearing a seatbelt when traveling in a car, it is just as important to teach them the appropriate safety around electricity and how dangerous it can potentially be. Children should not learn themselves by experimenting with the outlets.

Time for the Veteran’s Day Concert

Time for the Veteran’s Day Concert

It is that time again – time for your favorite electrician to put down his tools and pick up his trumpet. And, as a member of the Gainesville Community Band, this is one of my favorite concerts of the year – the James B. King Veteran’s Day Concert

Playing in the Gainesville Community Band is one of my passions. I’ve been doing it for seven years. We perform a number of times throughout the year. This is absolutely one of my favorites because of our audience and the meaning behind this concert.

James King and his wife, Joy, were members of the Gainesville Community Band for 26 years. He passed away in 2006. As native of Charleston, S.C., he enlisted in the Army where he performed on troop ships crossing the Atlantic during WWII. In 1946, he joined the Marine Band, where he served as principal clarinet and assistant conductor until his retirement in 1968.

For me, it is an honor and a distinct privilege to be part of this concert, as it is our small way of honoring our veterans. This year’s concert is Sunday, Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 SW Second Ave. And for two additional reasons, this year’s concert is very special. First, since Veteran’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, we will be performing on the actual day. And this Veteran’s Day marks the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I – the day the armistice was signed.

For more information about Gainesville Community Band, please visit their website:

http://www.gnvband.org/.

Starting to Plan for Holiday Lighting: Some Money-saving Tips

Some Money-saving Tips for planning for holiday lighting

The holiday season is approaching fast and many of you are already planning to purchase lights to make your home more festive. The winter holiday season is often one of the most costly times of the year, and it is important to consider how you can reduce your monthly power bill by taking into consideration different ways you can reduce energy usage around the holiday season. Luckily, there are many ways in which you can easily minimize the impact that your lights will have on your holiday budget.

Firstly, the most important tip to follow in order to see a significant reduction in your monthly bill is to switch your traditional incandescent lights to LED lights. However, you may see a slight difference in pricing when it comes to upgrading to LED. This is because they are much cheaper to run and will last up to 10 times longer. They’ll save you a lot of money in the long-run and will use about 70-80 percent less energy than the traditional bulbs.

Another thing to remember when purchasing holiday lighting decor, is to keep in mind that you should only use designated outdoor lighting that is labeled for exterior use. You should check the box to guarantee that they are approved for outdoors. Decorating your house with lighting that is not made to endure bad weather can be highly dangerous and can result in a fire hazard.

A great way to have a fantastic holiday decoration without spending too much on electricity is to set timers for your lights. There are not a lot of people out and about in your neighborhood at around 2:00 a.m., so it is a good idea to connect your stringing lights to some type of timer that will allow your lights to turn off and on at a certain point. There are many different sorts of timers ranging from simple to old-fashioned to smart home-integrated timers which you can control directly from your smartphone. By placing your lights on a timer, you can program them to turn on at around 5 p.m. and automatically turn off at 10 or 11 p.m. This will save you a significant amount of electricity usage.

Lastly, remember to be mindful and stay safe while decorating your home. You should check all your lights to make sure there are no broken wires or lights that generate too much heat. When we get closer to the holiday season, look back and recall these tips that will help you stay festive and energy efficient this upcoming holiday!

Smoke Detectors in Your Home

Smoke detectors and fire alarms may be some of the most important items in your home when it comes to your family’s safety. Knowing a basic few things about smoke detectors and fire alarms can minimize the damage from any life-threatening event such as a house fire. Fire research has shown that with today’s modern furnishings, fires can spread much more quickly than in the past when more natural materials were used. As a result of this, having an adequate amount of properly located smoke alarms is crucial to increase the amount of escape time. Here are a few of tips regarding the installation of smoke alarms:

Installing smoke alarms:

  • Choose smoke alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • On areas and levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room or near a stairway.
  • Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for proper method of testing your smoke detector and fire alarm.
  • Even though smoke detectors have a life span of 10-years, you should replace a smoke detector after the 10-year period or earlier, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. (The beeping sound is a sign you need to change your battery).
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises).

Homeowners and enforcement authorities should identify that detection needs have changed over the years and take the necessary steps to ensure that every home has a sufficient capacity of smoke alarms. Installing smoke alarms can be a great way to help keep your family safe and taking a few minutes to check them regularly can help guarantee they’re working accurately.

How to Hook Up a Generator

Installing an whole house emergency generator for hurricane season

It is never too early to be prepared. With hurricane season upon us, homeowners are starting to wonder whether they should install a generator to save them from chaos and stress. You may still want to collect and store hurricane supplies, including large amounts of water, canned foods or extra flashlights and batteries but if you have a home generator installed, it could provide you power during any power outage.

When choosing a generator, the decision is between a small portable type that you can plug an extension cord into just to power a few essential appliances like a refrigerator or freezer, or have the portable generator connect by use of a twist-lock cord into a receptacle that back-feeds power into your main circuit panel or a small generator ready subpanel. That requires lockout hardware that disconnects your panel from the utility main so no generator power back feeds into the grid. The other option is to use a permanently installed pad-mounted generator that connects to your home through an automatic transfer panel.

It is important to determine your generator plug type and amperage. A small generator is about 6,000-8,000 watt and can often power most household appliances. However, to determine what kind of power your home needs you need to ask yourself several questions: whether you have an electric, heat pump or gas heating system; and if your hot water heater is electric or gas. This will determine if you need a larger size of generator to cover your needs.

Any option you choose requires the use of a transfer switch mechanism. There are two forms of transfer switches: manual transfer switch and automatic transfer switch.

As your grandmother always said, “There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything.“

We can help you decide the type of installation that will meet your needs and budget.

As we have learned in the last few years, generators come in handy during hurricane season or whenever there is a storm that causes you to lose power. But due to the safety issues and maintenance, you want a qualified electrician to hook up your generator. It’s certainly something we can help with.

Fanfare and Fireworks

Come to celebrate our independence and to support your favorite electrician when he and his trumpet help deliver great music while you enjoy the fireworks show.

As many of you know, I am a member of the Gainesville Community Band, having played with the band for a number of years. We perform seven concerts during the year, and while it’s hard to say which my favorite is, one may stand out above all the others – Fanfare and Fireworks.

Maybe because it’s a great celebration of our country but with the added fireworks and other aspect of the event, it becomes bigger than a concert.

This year Fanfare and Fireworks takes place on Tuesday night, July 3 at the UF band shell at Flavet Field. It will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and I will be playing the trumpet with the band at 9 p.m. It will be an hour-long concert that people will enjoy while watching the beautiful fireworks.

Another reason this is among my favorite Gainesville Community Band events is it reminds me of my days as an undergraduate music major at UF in the early 1970s.

And I’m not alone in liking this event. Since its inception it has attracted an audience of about 20,000 people each year.

The event is presented by WUFT-TV and WUFT-FM and supported by the city of Gainesville, Florida Credit Union and GRU.  Glenn Richards, WUFT-FM morning edition host, will be emceeing the event and other musical groups like Bears and Lions and Billy Buchanan and his Rock ‘n Soul Revue will also perform.

I invite you to come to celebrate our independence and to support your favorite electrician when he and his trumpet help deliver great music while you enjoy the fireworks show.

Preparing for a Power Failure

Preparing for a Power Failure

While power outages and blackouts can happen at any moment during the year, there may be no better time to think about whether you are prepared than June – the beginning of the hurricane season.

And you may not even be considering this but the most important items on your checklist should be flashlights and an ample supply of the right kind of batteries.

If the power goes out – and stays out during the night – a flashlight may be your best friend, especially if your home is not equipped with a generator.

When considering a flashlight, especially for an emergency, it’s probably best to be prepared with an LED flashlight rather than an incandescent model. LED flashlights have been shown to have a great advantage over other types. The technology of LED flashlights allows the batteries to last approximately six to 10 times longer than regular flashlights.

There may be other ways to keep your house lit during an emergency. One is with a round “puck” LED light that can easily fit inside cabinets, bathrooms and other areas in your home.

Among the other items that you should have on hand well before a storm approaches is a portable radio. We don’t really think about them anymore because of other technology but if the power goes out, and you have no generator, a portable radio may be the only way for you to get vital information during a storm.

Finally, you should have a list of the things you would need if a storm is about to hit. That list should include water, appropriate food and medicines and whatever else you might require should you be without power or cut off for a few days. Be prepared to fill that list while supplies last in the stores. We know after the experience of last year what could happen here in Gainesville.

And one last tip – if the power goes out unplug your electrical appliances. You don’t want a power surge that can damage your electronics when the power is restored.