Summer is a season to enjoy yourself and spend a lot more time outdoors. It’s also a time when your home is more prone to lightning strikes and electrical fires. Your electrical system is also under much greater stress due to your air conditioning system and the additional appliances you’ll use. Let’s explore the steps you can take to be safer and more comfortable while lowering your utility costs.

Schedule a Home Energy Audit

The industry recommendation is to schedule a home energy audit every several years. Through a professional assessment, you’ll get a comprehensive view of your energy consumption. You’ll find out where and when your household is being efficient and where and when it’s not. You can then use this information to plan your home maintenance and improvement budgets. This assessment will take into account your:

  • Siding
  • Insulation
  • HVAC system
  • Natural ventilation
  • Roofing and gutters
  • Windows and doors

Schedule an Electrical Inspection

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends scheduling an electrical inspection every three to five years. An electrical inspection is an opportunity to identify and correct issues within the system. It’s also an opportunity learn what aspects of your system are not up to code. It isn’t a legal requirement to bring your home up to the National Electric Code (NEC), but it is highly recommended. An electrical inspection will extend to your:

  • Wiring
  • Electrical panel
  • Outlets and switches
  • Interior and exterior lighting

Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

The NFPA made some major updates to the NEC in 2020. If you purchased a home built before then, there can be serious deficiencies in your system. Many older homes, for instance, have a 110-volt electrical panel. A 240-volt panel is now the standard. The NEC now requires whole-house surge protection as well. Surge protection can safeguard your home against lightning strikes and grid anomalies common in summer.

Schedule a Seasonal HVAC Tune-Up

For most households, the air conditioner or heat pump will be the biggest draw on the electrical system in summer. Seasonal cooling tune-ups are important. From an electrical standpoint, this is because your HVAC technician will clean your condenser and evaporator coils. That will make your AC more efficient thereby consuming less electricity. It will also make your condenser less prone to hard starting.

Invest in a Programmable or Smart Thermostat

If you haven’t yet, spring is a perfect time to upgrade from your basic manual or digital thermostat to a programmable or smart one. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that this upgrade will save most homes at least 10% on cooling. Those savings can be as high as 30%. The programmable nature of these thermostats is the most important when it comes to those savings. Smart thermostats also have Wi-Fi capabilities and other advanced features. They’re a great option if you’re transitioning to a smart home.

Install Ceiling Fans Inside and Outside

This is also an excellent time to consider your ceiling fans. Your electrician can inspect the wiring, switches and lighting. It may be necessary to balance the blades as well. You may also want to add fans in rooms where you don’t have them. They provide excellent lighting and make a room feel cooler. They also help to even out cooling during summer and heating in winter. We recommend ceiling fans in:

  • Kitchens
  • Bedrooms
  • Living rooms
  • Home offices
  • Dining rooms
  • Screened-in areas outdoors

Enhance Your Landscape With Outdoor Lighting

You’ll use your outdoor living spaces more often in the summer. Better illumination will make those areas more enjoyable and safer. Good lighting will improve the security of your property as well. You can also choose lighting to improve nighttime curb appeal by highlighting your property’s best features.

Switch Over to LED Light Bulbs and Smart Switches and Outlets

The average U.S. household has 40 light bulbs and spends about $750 a year powering them. Switching over to LED bulbs will lower that cost to about $175 a year on average. LED bulbs do cost a bit more but last longer too and will pay for themselves over their lives. Smart switches can help you save by turning off lights automatically or on a schedule. We also recommend smart outlets. They can help you eliminate phantom draw, which is an electrical draw from appliances in standby mode. The DOE estimates that many homes waste 10% of their electrical consumption in this manner.

Upgrade to GFCI Outlets

Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GCFI) outlets have fast-acting circuits that prevent most electrical shocks and save lives. All your outdoor outlets should be GCFI outlets. You should also install them in bathrooms, kitchens and anywhere else you’re near water.

Check Smoke and CO Detectors and Replace as Needed

Check that you have necessary smoke and carbon monoxide detector coverage based on your home and appliances. Install units where needed. Test your existing units. Replace batteries as required. You should also replace units that fail their tests or which have reached the 10-year mark.

Inspect Your Type C Fire Extinguisher

Have a fire extinguisher conveniently positioned near your electrical panel. It should be a Type C extinguisher, which is the most effective for electrical fires. You should have rechargeable fire extinguishers professionally serviced every six years. Replace disposable extinguishers every 10 years. If you need to learn to use a fire extinguisher, call your local fire department to learn about local classes.

Whole-House Generator Installation or Maintenance

Blackouts are more common in summer. This is due to heightened demand but also the extreme heat. A whole-house generator can keep your home power in an uninterrupted fashion. If you already have a generator, spring is a good time to schedule professional maintenance. If you can’t install a generator right now, put together an emergency kit for blackouts. Your kit should at least include:

  • Water
  • First-aid kit
  • Light sources
  • Emergency radio
  • Nonperishable food
  • Portable chargers and batteries

Take Advantage of Vacation Modes

Smart thermostats, refrigerators and water heaters often have a vacation mode that you can activate before leaving or remotely. That mode will significantly cut down on the power you use while away. In the case of your water heater, it can also make you less prone to leaks and other issues. If you don’t have a smart water heater, simply lower the thermostat or thermostats to the lowest setting.

Trim Trees Near Power Lines

Trim trees near your power line so that you’re less prone to a local power outage. Your utility company or town will trim branches that extend over the street. They typically won’t trim branches on your property. You’ll need to schedule a professional to trim branches elsewhere in your yard.

Your Local Electrical Pros in Ellisville

Potts Electric is an electrical contractor serving both homeowners and businesses in Ellisville and throughout the St. Louis Metro area. Our electricians perform inspections, electrical panel upgrades, wiring and rewiring. We also install smart home automation, EV charging stations, generators, tank and tankless water heaters, indoor and outdoor lighting and much more. Contact us today to learn about the products and services we offer or to schedule an in-home residential or commercial consultation or service appointment.

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