Electrical Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office

COVID-19 has caused many of our homes to be used for more than just living. We now have to do school from home, exercise from home and even work from home.

Especially if you are working from home, you may want to create a home office  to conduct meetings and other work-related activities.

However, such a space may require a specific electrical setup in order to prevent disaster. Below are some tips for the electrical setup of your home office.

  1. Account for multiple outlets           

When you are conducting business from home, you need to remember that you will be using multiple devices (a phone, computer, fax machine, printer, scanner, etc.) that will all need to be plugged into an outlet. Therefore, plan to install enough outlets for the room. If it is not possible for you to install a sufficient number of outlets, make sure to have a power strip with a surge protector available. Additionally, check the nameplates for all the electronic devices you are using to make sure you have sufficient amperage.

  1. Keep comfort in mind

Remember that you are designing a home office, which you will probably spend a lot of time in. With that said, comfort is a very important consideration. Depending on what that room was before it became your home office (possibly a patio or garage), you may need to consider heating and air conditioning. Additionally, when deciding where to install the outlets, you may want to think about organizing them close to windows and sunlight, which is where you might want to place your desk. And you will want to think about the most organized way to place each of your appliances and place the outlets accordingly.

  1. Install Hardwired Ethernet

Working from home is stressful enough, and you do not want to have to stress about having slow internet in addition. A hardwired ethernet connection will ensure that you can conduct your business as efficiently as possible.

These tips are the most obvious and important to consider when assembling an at-home office, but there is so much more. If you have other questions or need a professional to help you through the process, give us a call at Eaton Electric.

The Most Expensive Appliances on Your Electric Bill

While you probably are aware that your electric bill is based on the electric consumption of  each of the appliances you use regularly each month and, of course, your lights and general purpose outlets, did you know that certain appliances cost more than others on your electric bill? Here is a list of the most expensive appliances in your house:

  1. This one may be obvious, but the most expensive appliance in your home is typically the central air conditioner. General Electric explains that the average air conditioner costs $60 per month depending on the location. Considering we are in Florida, the average unit costs more than that since we are in a warm climate.
  1. The second most expensive appliance is your electric water heater. While this appliance typically consumes a lower wattage than the air conditioner, the water heater works diligently throughout the day, which is why it has such a prominent effect on the cost of your bill.
  1. The third most expensive electronic appliance in your home is your refrigerator and freezer unit. Similar to the water heater, the freezer and refrigerator are hard workers. The traditional tanked water heater operates at 4,500 watts and cycles on and off as water is used during the day, maintaining the water temperature at the proper setting. Your freezer and refrigerator are similarly working; day and night, and their compressor  cycles on and off consuming about 700-800 watts as it maintains the proper temperature in the appliances.
  1. The final most expensive appliance is the clothes dryer. The dryer typically works at a high wattage, about 3,400 watts, which can really add up on your bill. The good thing about the dryer, though, is that it is typically not used more than a few times per week, unlike the previously mentioned appliances, which helps to prevent your bill from being too outrageous.

With all of this information, you may want to know how you can adjust your usage or make other changes to reduce your bill. Call Eaton Electric or read our article from March 30 to learn more about how to save money.

A Reminder About Hurricane Season — It’s Going to be Active

We first wrote here about the 2020 hurricane season back in June. It seems like a long time ago, but in reality, we’ve only experienced the first two months of hurricane season so far.

The good news (and it is hard to imagine good news in 2020) is that, while there have been 11 named storms so far, Florida has been mostly spared from tropical activity. Normally, there are only two named storms by early August. The bad news is the active part of hurricane season is just starting.

And hurricane forecasters are predicting a very active remainder of the 2020 hurricane season. They are projecting as many as 25 named storms, with half of those becoming hurricanes. That’s twice the average number. 

That will take us all the way through Wilfred, and possibly have us going to Alpha, Beta, etc.

With all the other issues we have been facing in 2020, we thought it would be important to repeat our earlier reminders about how to be prepared for the hurricane season. We will focus on the electrical side of things.

If you’ve been considering a generator for your home, this may be the year to make that purchase. And you probably want to do that quickly.

If we lose power after a strong storm, a portable generator will have your home running until the power is restored.

If you are considering a generator, Eaton Electric can help you with that decision and the installation. For more information about a portable generator, review our June 10 article.

We also wrote earlier this year about how to prepare for power outages, and deal with appliances and  electrical equipment when they occur. To review that article, click here.

There is an expression often used by emergency managers, “Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.” When it comes to hurricane season, that’s a good philosophy to follow here in Florida.

Why Should You Hire a Licensed Electrician?

There are a lot of household duties, especially during such trying times, that we try to do ourselves in order to save the expense associated with hiring a professional. Many times, this can be efficient and beneficial to your budget. However, when it comes to an electrician, here are some reasons why it is best to hire a licensed electrician:

  1. Liability

If you try to complete a job yourself, or even hire an electrician who does not have a license, you will be responsible for the insurance costs and the damage in the event that something goes wrong. If you hire a licensed electrician, however, liability is on their shoulders and they have full responsibility of protecting you and your home.

  1. High level of experience

When you hire a licensed electrician, you know you are hiring a knowledgeable and experienced professional to get the job done, because in order to receive such a license, they must go through extensive training. This is something that is not guaranteed if you do the job yourself or hire an unlicensed person.

  1. Safety Codes

Similarly, in order to receive the license, electricians must promise to follow the associated safety codes. Again, this is not a guarantee if you hire someone else. The safety of you and your home is top priority to licensed electricians. Additionally, licensed electricians are required to update their education frequently, so they are constantly in the know of the latest regulations and techniques.

  1. Required when you sell your home

Wiring your home requires a permit that is only attainable through a licensed electrician. Therefore, if you plan to sell your home, the value might decrease significantly when you report that your home was not wired by an electrician. This is just one of many reasons why it is best to establish a relationship with a licensed professional from the very beginning of your homeowning journey.

Fortunately, I am a licensed electrician. Call today to get started with the decision that will be safer, cheaper and smarter for you and your family in the long run.

How to Save Energy

Here are some ideas to keep your electric bill down.

Here we are in the hottest time of the year in Florida, so our air-conditioning units are working hard. And this summer, we are spending a lot more time at home than we normally do, so they are working overtime.

Your air-conditioning unit is likely to be the appliance in your home that uses the most energy. The result is we can all be experiencing higher utility bills this summer than we are used to.

With the heat and humidity, raising the thermostat on your a/c unit may not be the best answer as you try to save energy and lower that bill.

However, there are some other things you can be doing to offset that big bill. Here are some ideas.

Start with lighting. Lighting can be a common cause of creating additional, undesirable heat in your home, but rather than turning the lights off, make sure you are using LED lighting. Not only do LED lights last much longer, they use less energy than incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs. Replacing them with LED lights is a simple way to help reduce energy costs.

Examine your switches, plugs and strips. Most newer switches and power strips can help lower your electricity costs with a button or app, or through a timer. With power strips, newer models may have a feature that shuts off power to what’s plugged into them either with a flip of a switch or after a certain period of time.

Your windows can be a factor. Windows without window coverings are going to let in a great deal of heat. If investing in window coverings is not an option, keep the shades or blinds closed on sun-facing windows, especially during the hottest times of the day.

Routinely have your HVAC units maintenance checked. A problem with your unit could not only have air blowing in hotter than it should be, it may also be consuming unnecessary energy. When you do have that maintenance check, make sure you have the latest model thermostat. Today’s thermostats can be controlled remotely. So, if you are going to be way from home longer than expected, you can turn the thermostat up so you are not blowing colder air into an empty house. Also, make sure your A/C filter is clean.

Here’s two more ideas to lower your energy cost. These are water related. First, consider cleaning clothes in cold water. It works just as well and saves on the cost of hot water. Second, make sure all your faucets and shower heads are of the water-conserving variety. That saves on water bills, as well as any electrical costs related to hot water.

Finally, make sure your air leaks are sealed. Sealing air leaks and properly insulating can save you up to 20 percent on your energy bill.

So, there’s no way around Florida’s hot, humid summer. However, there are some things you can do to be energy efficient. These ideas are a start to saving energy and saving money.

And Now It’s Hurricane Season!

Here are some ideas to help you prepare for hurricane season

We’ve certainly had an interesting year so far, and now, for those of us in Florida, it is getting even more interesting. That’s because hurricane season started June 1.

I say June 1, but we actually had two named storms before hurricane season officially started, and a third storm in the Gulf of Mexico on the first official week of hurricane season.

So, as we always say this time of year, it’s time to prepare for hurricane season.

That means many things.

While we are not suggesting anyone hoard supplies, remember some of the things you may need if there is a storm in our area may not be as available as they usually are.

On the electrical side, there are a few things to consider. The first of these is whether this is the year to invest in a generator for your home.

If a strong enough storm hits our area, and you lose power, a portable generator is the quickest way to power up your home until electricity is restored.

But there’s a lot to learn about generators. A portable generator can range in price from $500 to $2,000. They are small and easier to install but may not power your entire home for an extended period of time. A standby generator costs more but will power the whole house.

It’s best to get an expert to guide you through the process if you decide on buying a generator and to help with installation.

One other thing to consider about hurricane season and power failures. We recently wrote here about power outages and what you need to do before the utility restores power to your home. It’s worth reviewing that article now. You can do that by clicking here.

And finally, consider this about hurricane season. Hurricane experts are predicting an active season. That means they are saying we could see a number of strong storms. Where they go at this point is anybody’s guess. But we live in Florida. While that generally means mild winters and hot, humid summers, it also means we can be in the path of a storm. It’s best to be prepared.

Dealing with Power Outages

Dealing with Power Outages

During this time of social distancing, we are continuing to work with clients, especially in the case of any electrical emergencies you may be experiencing.

One of the most common of these emergencies is power outages. In most cases, our work as part of the effort to restore your electricity comes after the local utility (GRU or Clay Electric) has done its work. Generally, our work in these situations occurs outside of the house.

Unfortunately, we are in the time of year when power outages are more common because most of the rain and wind we get this time of year comes from storms that are more intense. And with hurricane season right around the corner, there is a strong likelihood that will remain the case, whether or not we see any hurricanes or tropical storms in North Central Florida.

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.

So, how exactly, can you prepare for power outages?

The first thing on your checklist should be flashlights and a supply of the right kind of batteries.

If your power outage occurs at night, a flashlight is crucial – especially if you do not have a home generator. And while in years past, people considered using candles in these situations, that is not recommended. If you have windows open, a strong gust of wind could create a fire hazard.

In trying to determine what kind of flashlight is best in an emergency, I recommend an LED model rather than incandescent. LED flashlight technology results in batteries lasting as much as 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. Generally connected to a power source, these lights can also be battery operated.

And how many of you still have a portable radio? They are not something we generally consider with all the other options available to get information. However, most of those other options need an electrical power source that would not be available during an outage.

Finally, you should have a list of the things you would need if a storm is about to hit, and there is potential for losing power. Given the shopping that went on during the last few months, you may already have those things. But then again, with shortages, you may not. Those necessities 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 as best you can.

One last important tip – if the power goes out, unplug all your electrical appliances. Otherwise, you could be facing a power surge when the electricity comes back on. And in a future article, we will talk about partial outages that are isolated to a specific outlet, light or area of your home.

How to Save Money on Energy While Social Distancing

How to Save Money on Energy While Social Distancing

During this unprecedented time, many of us are having to spend a lot of time out of work and at home. This leads to two common dilemmas:

  1. a lower income
  2. using more energy at home, which raises the electricity bill

We don’t usually realize how much energy we use until we are constantly at home and need to continuously charge our appliances, run the dishwasher and warm up our coffee in the microwave.

We at Eaton Electric are aware of how stressful this time must be for many people, so we wanted to provide some money-saving tips in regard to your energy usage.

    1. Avoid pointless energy-suckers

Energy-suckers include cords that you leave plugged in when you’re not charging your appliance, lights turned on when you’re not in a room and the TV turned on even when you’re not watching it. Even though this seems like a small thing to do, it will make a huge difference in your bill.

    2. Be smart with your laundry

This may seem obvious but doing larger loads of laundry as opposed to smaller ones will save tons of energy.

    3. Seal Air Leaks

Any opportunity for air to escape your home will make it harder for your to maintain the temperature you want and will ultimately result in your air conditioner being overworked and you spending more money than you need to.

   4. Replace air conditioner filters

Dirty air conditioner filters make it harder for the cool air to travel throughout the house and require your system to use more power. This simple tip could save more than you may realize on your monthly bill.

If you keep these helpful money-saving tips in mind during isolation and throughout the year, you are guaranteed to save money and energy. Call us at Eaton Electric if you have any questions or need our help with your electrical system. We will do what we can to help you.

Preventing Overloaded Outlets

Overloaded electric outlets can cause problems up to and including fires. If you’re not certain that an outlet is overloaded, let us come and examine it.

Above all else, we at Eaton Electric care about the safety of our clients. As electricians, we have many opportunities to ensure that the homes we work on are, from an electrical standpoint, as safe as possible. One of these opportunities is to help educate on the things you can do to stay safe and prevent an electrical nightmare from occurring in your home.

With the rise in dependence on our electronic devices, and the increase in varieties of these devices, our outlets can easily be overworked. This is extremely dangerous, because it could lead to a devastating fire or even a power outage throughout your entire home.

Here are some things we suggest you do to prevent this from happening:

  1. Call us to come and inspect your home and tell you the capacity of each outlet. This will allow you to know how many watts of energy can be plugged in to the outlet at one time.
  2. Do not leave cords plugged into the outlet when you are not charging your device. Even though the chord is not being used, it still uses energy from the outlet if it is left plugged in.
  3. Do not leave multiple devices plugged into one outlet for an excessive amount of time, (more than five hours), even if the wattage of these devices does not exceed the limit of the outlet.

We look forward to hearing from you soon so that we can help to ensure your home is electrically safe in every way!

Space Heater Safety Tips

If you have any concerns about using your space heater, please contact us.

In Florida, about nine months of every year are spent in tank tops while blasting the air conditioner and sitting right in front of the fan. However, for those few months where the weather does drop below 50 degrees, it is very common for homeowners to use space heaters. And while we have experienced some of those days already, there will be more before the winter is over. In fact, we’re anticipating a freeze next week.

Space heaters are convenient because they provide the luxury of quickly heating an individual room and not any of the other areas in your home. For places like Florida where a heating system is only needed on an irregular and short basis, space heaters are the most efficient and cost-effective solution because they provide quick heat without breaking the bank.

But, of course, even the greatest luxuries are not perfect. Space heaters can be dangerous if used improperly. Space heaters have been reported to cause numerous fires throughout the country due to negligence and improper caretaking. In order to get the most out of your space heater, follow these simple dos and don’ts:

DO

  • Keep the heater at least three feet away from flammable items
  • Make sure the heater’s power cord is not damaged or frayed in any way
  • Make sure the heater is securely plugged into the power outlet and doesn’t come loose
  • Make sure the heater is on a stable surface
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are working
  • Make sure to read the instructions attached to your heater to ensure that you use the right fuel

DON’T

  • Put anything around the heater that could cause a fire
  • Use a power strip or extension cord
  • Use the heater if the power cord or wall heater is hot to the touch
  • Place on tables or unstable surfaces
  • Use around water or other liquids
  • Run the power cord under a rug or furniture
  • Use a space heater that is used for a home that is bigger than you need
  • Allow unaccompanied children around the heater

As an alternative to a space heater, if the need is in the bathroom only, we can install a heat lamp. That eliminates the danger of having a space heater in a room with a lot of water.

If you have any concerns about using your space heater, please contact us.