With the ever-increasing cost of home ownership, some owners may be considering adding a secondary suite as a mortgage helper. Other owners may be combining households with other family members. There are specific requirements when adding an additional living unit to your property. Before doing anything, be sure to contact your local municipality to confirm what is required to add an additional living unit and to check exactly what rules and regulations apply to your specific situation. A secondary suite could be a basement suite, in-law suite or a coach house. Each have a different set of requirements depending on the application.
Having a secondary suite will increase the amount of electricity already used, so upgrading your current electrical service for the additional load may be required. An experienced electrician will conduct a load calculation to confirm the service requirements for supplying power to the main and secondary household on the property. Installing a sub-panel specifically for the secondary suite would eliminate the inconvenience of a tripped breaker affecting the other living unit. Blue Crest Electric recommends installing an information meter to monitor the use of electricity by the occupants of the secondary suite. This will also help to avoid disputes over power usage.
A Secondary Suite Requires An Electrical Permit
Many homeowners do not realize the importance and benefits of the required electrical permit. The electrical permit, acquired by the electrical contractor, means that the installation is being completed according to the current electrical Code requirements. This provides assurance and peace of mind that the installation will be safely completed. For more information regarding electrical permits click Here.
A Secondary Suite As A Mortgage Helper
If the purpose of constructing a secondary suite is to offset the mortgage payment, getting top dollar for the rental space is very important. Consider adding some of the following features to the secondary suite to attract the most discerning tenants.
A full size kitchen with all major appliances stove, refrigerator and a dishwasher
Personal laundry appliances
Lots of lighting to compensate for lack of natural light
High speed WiFi and data capabilities
Lots of soundproofing between living units
Storage for seasonal and recreational items
Designated outdoor space
Personal and guest parking
To name a few…
With a well designed space and the right tenant, adding a secondary suite to the property can be a financially positive and even enjoyable experience.
Blue Crest electricians are skilled and knowledgeable in the construction of secondary suites. The electricians would be able to assist in the electrical installation of the project.
Many homeowners who want to save on energy costs are upgrading to LED light bulbs. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode which is a semiconductor source that produces light when an electrical current passes through it. Back in 2014 when incandescent light bulbs were being phased out, homeowners were encouraged to switch to the more energy efficient CFL bulb. Five years later, LED light bulbs have become the more popular choice because they are even more energy efficient than the CFL light bulbs. CFL light bulbs use 35% less energy than the incandescent lights bulbs. LED light bulbs, however, use 75% less energy than the incandescent light bulbs.
Incandescent Bulbs: 90% of the energy used is to produce heat. Average Life Span is 1,200 hours.
CFL Bulbs: 30% of the energy used is to produce heat. Average Life Span is 8,000 hours.
LED Bulbs: 0% or very little of the energy used is wasted to produce heat. Average Life Span is 25,000 hours.
Below are some advantages and disadvantages of LED light bulbs compared to CFL light bulbs.
Advantages of LED Light Bulbs
LED bulbs last about 3 times longer than CFL which means they have a very long lifespan and less maintenance and replacement costs.
They turn on fully right away. CFL bulbs take a few seconds to warm up and fully turn on.
LEDs use less wattage and therefore less energy
They can be compact in size and are available for most applications
The bulbs are more durable and resistant to breakage
They are not affected by constant turning on/off like other bulbs
They are dimmable
There is no mercury or lead in LED light bulbs
They don’t produce heat so the bulb stays cool to the touch
Rapidly developing technology
Disadvantages of LED Light Bulbs
It is difficult to find many disadvantages to the LED technology other than
They can be more expensive than other bulbs, although price has continued to drop significantly
In hot environments, the life span can decrease, ie sauna, steam room or enclosed fixtures
For more information on choosing the right LED Light Bulbs click HERE.
In 2014, Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL) became the preferred lighting choice when the Canadian government phased out the standard incandescent bulb. This was a logical decision because CFL technology is more energy efficient than the incandescent.
There is a concern that Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes contain a small amount of mercury. Therefore burned out bulbs require a safe and careful disposal. To confirm if your bulbs contain mercury, look for the displayed Hg symbol. Millions of light bulbs containing mercury are disposed of in landfills every year. Unfortunately, this means that mercury vapor is being released into the environment.
To ensure they don’t break, Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs need to be handled gently. If a bulb containing mercury breaks, it is suggested that you leave the room for at least 15 minutes to allow the vapors to settle.
The following are some important points to remember for safe CFL clean-up and disposal.
Before Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Clean-up
Air out the room by opening the window or door.
Turn off the central heating or air conditioning system to help avoid spreading the vapors.
During Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Clean-up
Always wear gloves to avoid contact with the mercury and getting cuts from the broken pieces.
Use stiff papers or cardboard to scoop up the bigger broken pieces.
Use duct tape or other sticky tape to pick up the remaining glass and powder.
It is recommended to avoid using a bagless vacuum cleaner which may spread the mercury vapors and possibly contaminate the canister.
Wipe the area with a damp paper towel to remove the leftover particles from the hard floor.
Place all broken pieces in a glass container with a tight lid and place it outside of the home in a safe place. If you use a plastic bag, double bag.
If a vacuum with a disposal bag is used, the bag should be carefully removed immediately after clean-up and discarded with other contaminated materials.
After Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Clean-up
Continue airing out the room. Keep the central air system off.
Take the glass container or plastic bag to a recycling depot for proper disposal.
Wash your hands after clean-up is complete.
To find a recycling depot in your area click HERE.
Having a spring electrical maintenance routine is important after a cold, stormy winter. The following is a checklist of some spring electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should be aware of.
Interior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Change your ceiling fan rotation back to a counter-clockwise direction. This will help keep the room as cool as possible during warmer weather.
Test all smoke/CO detectors to make sure they are working. Check all backup batteries. Lightly vacuum the unit surface several times a year to prevent dust from accumulating on the sensors.
Vacuum fan grills to remove surface dust to prolong the life of the motor.
Inspect and vacuum the back of your refrigerator/stand up freezer for debris and dust which can reduce the energy efficiency and create a fire hazard.
Interior & Exterior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Extension cords are for temporary use only. Check the cords for frays or plug damage. A damaged cord should never be used. Replace it with a properly rated cord with the appropriate wire gauge size. For information on how to choose the right extension cord click HERE.
Test interior GFCI receptacles monthly. Test exterior GFCI receptacles before each use.
Exterior Spring Electrical Maintenance
Check yard maintenance and gardening power tools for frayed cords or broken plugs. Repair the damaged cord or replace the entire tool.
Check all exterior lighting and replace burned out light bulbs. A good option would be changing to more energy efficient LED bulbs, if this has not been done already.
Reset lighting timers to accommodate longer daylight hours. Consider installing Astronomical timers which automatically adjust to seasonal changes and daylight savings time.
Check exterior lighting fixtures throughout the spring as birds like to use them as supports for building their nests. Nests can damage your lighting fixture and cause it to overheat and become a fire hazard.
If not already done, take down exterior Christmas lights. Most seasonal light strings are not rated for year-round use. Exposure to UV light from the sun will cause the cords to become brittle.
If you have an overhead service bringing power to your home, visually check connection points to ensure that the cables appear tight and free of obstructions. If you have any concerns, contact our electricians to check for any safety issues and make the required repairs.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather to cut back all branches from around overhead cables to prevent possible damage caused by falling branches. BC Hydro states that branches need to be 3 meters or 10 feet from the cables. Call a professional arborist if this task is beyond your abilities. For more information about safely clearing branches click HERE.
Check all exterior exhaust vents to make sure that they are clear of any debris.
All exterior water features require grounding. Ensure that the grounding is functioning correctly.
A generator should be serviced annually. Some units may need an additional service if used heavily during winter months.
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your spring electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house when it comes to adding value to your home. Bathroom renovations can be as simple as changing the paint color on the walls to gutting the entire room. Here are some “must haves” to keep in mind when planning bathroom renovations.
Extra receptacles for the ability to plug in more than one or two appliances. All receptacles within 1.5 meters of a sink, tub or shower must be GFCI protected to meet current Code requirements. For information on the importance of GFCI protection, click HERE.
A bath fan correctly sized for the use and square footage of the room. A 2-piece powder room will likely only need a small fan to keep the air fresh. A bathroom with a tub and/or shower requires a larger fan to remove odor and humidity. This will eliminate the possibility of mold and mildew in this humid environment. For more details regarding ventilation click HERE.
Bath fan timers are a great addition for homeowners who may forget to turn the fan off. The timer will automatically turn off the fan at a pre-set time. Blue Crest recommends running the fan for “an hour per shower”.
Vanity fixtures that are located on the ceiling or high on the wall will create shadows on the face. Lighting fixtures that are located at eye level and illuminate both sides of the face provide the best lighting for applying makeup and personal grooming.
In shower and tub lighting that is correctly rated for a wet environment.
Some bathroom renovations require a larger budget, but the end result is well worth the investment.
Luxury Items For Bathroom Renovations
A heated towel rack so homeowners will always have a warm towel after a shower. Depending on the power requirements, a wall mounted towel rack will likely require a dedicated electrical circuit. A Blue Crest electrician can assist with this task. A freestanding towel rack usually plugs into a standard receptacle. Some models may also have a fan to heat up the bathroom.
Convection heater to help keep your bathroom warm on cold winter days.
In floor heat feels wonderful on your feet first thing on a chilly winter morning. It will also help warm up the rest of the room.
A heated soaking tub will keep the water warm for long relaxing or therapeutic baths.
Audio speakers and/or tv connection for entertainment when using the room for relaxation purposes.
A chandelier over the bath tub to add some glamour to the room. A lighting fixture that is not rated for wet locations must be installed high enough so you are unable to reach it while standing in the bath tub. Logic dictates that it would be unwise for a person to touch anything electrical while also in contact with water.
Blue Crest Electric technicians will ensure a safe, Code compliant installation for all bathroom renovations.
When homeowners think about kitchen renovations, they don’t always think about electricity. Kitchen renovations are not just about picking a new paint color, back splash or style of cabinets. Electrical appliances, lighting and devices will play an important role in the overall success of this project. Here are some things to consider when planning electrical needs for kitchen renovations.
According to the current Canadian Electrical Code, an island is required to have at least 1 receptacle.
Countertop receptacles within 1.5 meters from the edge of a sink must be GFCI protected. For information on the importance of GFCI protection, click Here.
Large appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens and microwaves will require specific wiring circuitry to be Code compliant.
Consider receptacle placement for optimal usage, e.g. where the toaster or coffee maker will be plugged in. Some receptacles may need to be added or moved in order to meet Code requirements or to better suit the homeowners needs.
Lighting For Kitchen Renovations
One of the must-haves in a kitchen is proper lighting. To achieve the best light coverage, careful consideration must be given for fixture type and placement. Recessed lights give excellent overall lighting, under cabinet lights are great for task lighting to illuminate the work area and hanging fixtures are dual purpose. Lighting can also be used inside cabinets, such as under the sink or in a display cabinet.
There are 3 primary types of color temperature for lighting which are measured in Kelvin. The higher the degrees Kelvin, the whiter or cooler the color temperature. Westinghouse Lighting provides a clear understanding of the benefits of the various light levels. Having different types of lighting in the kitchen will allow for more flexibility with how bright you may want it and the mood you are wanting to set. Using dimmer switches for these lights will also allow homeowners to easily adjust light levels.
Luxury For Every Kitchen
As with any home renovation, there are items that would be considered luxury items for some homeowners. Kitchen renovations are no different. The following are some of the popular luxury items that homeowners are considering for their kitchen renovations.
Heated floors will add warmth to the room and feel good on your feet on a chilly day.
A wine fridge keeps wine at the perfect temperature for serving.
Beverage bar where everything you need is easily accessible to make your favorite hot or cold drink.
Baking center to store all baking ingredients and necessary appliances in one convenient place.
Breakfast station, complete with blender, toaster and coffee machine.
Dual appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, ranges and refrigerators to accommodate large households or homeowners who entertain often.
Special food preparation areas such a Spice Kitchen complete with duplicate or additional appliances such as a steam oven or wok.
As in all areas of kitchen renovations, careful consideration must be made for specific electrical power requirements for specialty appliances and task needs. Blue Crest Electric technicians will ensure a safe, Code compliant installation for all kitchen renovations.
The installation of a standby generator is on everyone’s wish list after last week’s devastating wind storm. The resulting lengthy power outage left many homeowners in the dark. Power outages can happen at any time of year. According to BC Hydro, extreme weather from October to February usually doubles the number of power outages compared to the rest of the year. These outages can last for several hours or even days. A standby generator provides power for important essential loads, such as sump & water pumps, refrigerators and freezers, as well as heat and medical equipment.
It is important to install a correctly sized standby generator to provide power during a power outage. A load calculation, provided by our electrician, will determine the size of generator required. The standby generator must be connected to a proper CSA approved automatic transfer switch to safely provide power to the selected electrical circuits in the home. The electrician will pull the necessary electrical permit and make sure everything is done according to the most recent Canadian Electrical Code. According to BC Hydro, generators that are improperly connected can feed electricity back into the BC Hydro electrical grid. This could result in possible injury or even electrocution to anyone who comes in contact with the cables, including your neighbor or a BC Hydro lineman working on restoring your power.
A standby generator must be located a safe distance from the building entrance, windows that can be opened and vents to avoid exhaust from entering your home. It is also wise to have a working battery-operated CO detector in your home when using a generator.
As with any piece of equipment, standby generators need to be properly maintained. Depending on the usage, oil and air filters will need to be changed regularly. For optimum performance, some manufacturers have incorporated a test cycle into the standby generator. A programmed test cycle runs the machine for 20 – 30 minutes on a weekly basis to keep the motor in peak working condition. Although a standby generator may not always be possible in every situation, a portable generator may be more suitable in some instances. In this case, a manual transfer switch safely powers a few selected essential circuits in the home. For more information about power outage safety and generator safety precautions visit https://www.bchydro.com/safety-outages/power-outages/prepare-for-outages/prepare-your-home.html
To report a power outage, call the BC Hydro Trouble Line at 1-800-224-9376.
If you are considering getting a standby generator, a Blue Crest electrician would be happy to supply and install it for you.
Power outages can happen any time throughout the year. According to BC Hydro, the stormy weather that BC gets from October to February brings a higher risk of damage. The high winds and rain we experience throughout our province usually doubles the number of calls to BC Hydro about power outages compared to the rest of the year. The following are some things to keep in mind during power outages.
Turn off all the light switches except for 1 indoors and 1 outdoors. This way you and the BC Hydro crews working outside will know when the power has been restored. For updated information on local area outages, refer to the following BC Hydro site map.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the temperature. A refrigerator can keep your food cold for about 4 hours, a full freezer can keep food frozen for about 48 hours and a half full freezer can keep food frozen for about 24 hours.
Unplug major electronics like your computer and television and turn the thermostats for your home’s heating system down to low to prevent damage from a power surge when the power is restored.
For cooking and heating purposes, never use charcoal or gas barbeques, fuel burning camping equipment or portable generators indoors as they produce a deadly carbon monoxide gas.
Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector with battery back-up.
During power outages, you may be without running water if you rely on a well pump. For this reason, keep an emergency supply on hand and replenish as needed.
If you only have a cordless phone, you will be left without phone service. Having a corded phone handy and making sure your cell phone is fully charged is a good idea.
To keep yourself informed about the power outages, have a battery powered radio on hand.
Report any fallen trees or downed power lines to BC Hydro at 1-888-769-3766.
If there are downed power lines, stay at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from them.
Power outages can cause damage to your electrical system. Being prepared ahead of time could save you a big headache later. Having your appliances and electronics surge protected could help save them from damage.
Christmas light safety is important while decorating for the holidays. Here are some Christmas light safety tips to keep in mind when using electricity for holiday decorating.
For Christmas light safety, use only Christmas lights that are approved for use in Canada. The BC Safety Authority website has a bulletin that lists the testing and approval agencies that are accepted in BC for all electrical equipment and products. Knock-off products are making their way into some stores, so purchase carefully.
Cords may become frayed or cracked and using damaged cords is a fire hazard. For Christmas light safety, always inspect for frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Discard damaged light sets as they can cause shocks or start a fire.
Make sure to replace burned out light bulbs with the correct wattage for the light cord. Incorrect bulbs can create overheating and cause a fire.
You may have several decorations that require electricity. Be sure you are not overloading the outlets or extension cords as this may cause overheating. When using extension cords, plan the placement of the cords to avoid tripping hazards. Make sure the cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under furniture.
When decorating outdoors, make sure to use only outdoor-rated extension cords. These cords are designed for wet winter conditions. Always make sure to plug them into a GFCI-protected outlet.
Avoid the use of nails, tacks or metal staples for hanging your lights as these may cause damage to the cords. Using plastic or insulated holders will protect the cords from damage.
Connecting the cords to a digital timer would be a great way to control the lights. This way they can be programmed to turn on and off at various times during the day and week.
To save on energy consumption, consider replacing your old-style light strings with energy efficient LED lights.
Be sure to turn off all Christmas lights before leaving the home or retiring for the night.
Never pull on a string of lights as this can result in stressed or frayed wires. Always remove the strings carefully and store them loosely coiled.
Being mindful of Christmas light safety means you can have the pleasure of doing it all again next year.
Winter is on its way which means that the colder weather is just around the corner. We tend to use more electricity in the winter months to keep our homes warm and comfortable. Here are some things you can do to reduce winter energy costs.
Turning down the thermostat during the day when you aren’t home as well as at night will help reduce winter energy costs. There is no point in heating an empty house or heating the whole house at night when you are under warm covers. Using programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures at pre-set times. BC Hydro claims that lowering your thermostat by 2 degrees will save you 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it 5 degrees could save 10%.
Only heat the rooms you use by closing the vents in the rooms that are not in use. Rooms, such as a guest room, which may be rarely used may not need constant heat.
We often get sunny days during the winter months, so opening the blinds during the day when the sun is shining allows the heat in. Closing the blinds when the sun goes down acts to insulate the room and keeps the heat from escaping.
Instead of turning up the heat, put on a cozy sweater, warm socks and keep throw blankets on your couch for easy access and comfort. Keeping the temperature a few degrees cooler will help reduce winter energy costs.
Use weather-stripping or caulking to seal air leaks around doors and windows. Cracks or gaps allow the heat to escape and the cold air to come into your home. This will help reduce winter energy costs.
Turn off un-necessary lighting. A motion sensor switch could be a good option to avoid forgetting to turn the lights off in closets and pantries.
Changing the direction of your ceiling fan to clockwise will force the warmer air at the ceiling down to where you can benefit from it, rather than turning up the thermostat.
90% of power used to energize an incandescent light bulb is wasted in the heat it produces. That means that only 10% of the power is used to produce light. Replacing incandescent bulbs with the correct LED bulbs will make a difference on your electrical bill.
Even choosing to implement a few of the above points will help reduce winter energy costs and provide savings on your utility bill.