Now that fall has arrived and the weather is getting colder, homeowners have turned off circulating fans and AC units and may be looking for supplementary electric heating options. When your home’s primary heating source is not adequate, or you are looking for additional heat in a specific area, supplementary electric heat may be the answer. Remember to ensure safe clearances of at least 3 feet from flammable materials such as curtains and bedding whenever using any kind of supplementary electric heating appliances.
Options for Supplementary Electric Heating
Baseboard Heaters – Heats only the room you need according to its own thermostat. Requires a dedicated, properly sized circuit. Should be installed by a certified licensed electrician. They are a good source of heat for a single room and a great way to supplement your heat.
Portable Heaters – Works as a supplementary heat source for a small area. Must be plugged directly into the outlet, never use an extension cord or power bar as this may cause overheating. Make sure you don’t plug any other electrical device into the same outlet. A 1500-watt heater should be on a dedicated circuit, this will prevent the overloading of circuits. Portable heaters should always be placed on a level, flat surface to prevent tipping. Never leave supplementary electric heating appliances unattended.
Electric Fireplace – Heats a small room. Must be plugged directly into the outlet, never use an extension cord or power bar. Should be on a dedicated circuit. There are many different designs, free standing or attach to the wall, and sizes available. Creates ambiance. An electric fireplace can be placed almost anywhere along a wall. A good way to supplement your heat in a smaller space.
Best Way to Reduce the Cost of Supplementary Electric Heating
Turning down the thermostat during the day when you aren’t home as well as at night will help reduce energy costs. There is no point in heating an unoccupied house or heating the whole house at night when you are under warm covers. Using programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures at preset 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%. For other ways to reduce your electric bill, click here.
Contact Blue Crest Electric and one of our technicians would be happy to install a programmable thermostat to help with heating your home.
Owners and perspective buyers of older homes often face insurance concerns with aluminum wiring. New policy applications, or the renewal of existing policies, may require an electrical inspection to confirm the presence of aluminum wiring in the home. Insurance companies consider aluminum wiring in the home to be a greater risk than copper wiring. Aluminum wiring was used extensively in homes built between 1965 and 1980. As electrical concerns arose from the use of aluminum wiring, industry changes were made. Copper wiring is now the most commonly used wiring for branch circuits.
Insurance Concerns with Aluminum Wiring In The Home
Higher risk of fire. Sources claim homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have a fire hazard condition.
Higher electrical resistance resulting in damaged wiring and devices due to overheating.
Oxidation on aluminum wiring when exposed to oxygen, resulting in failure of connections.
BC homeowners have three ESA approved options for addressing the concerns of aluminum wiring in the home: CO/ALR or AL/CU Devices, Copper Pigtails, or a Complete Home Rewire using copper wiring. For more information on these options, click here.
Only a trained and certified electrical contractor should complete any of these methods and ensure that proper installation procedures are strictly followed. Depending on the circumstances, a Blue Crest Electric technician may recommend one or a combination of Code approved options.
Symptoms That May Indicate Aluminum Wiring Problems
Flickering lights that cannot be traced to a failing bulb or other external cause
Plugs that do not work, even with the circuit energized
Unusual static on the radio, TV or computer
Switch plates and receptacle covers that are warped, discolored or warm to the touch
Circuit breakers or fuses that trip for no apparent reason
Strange odor similar to that of burning plastic around switches and receptacles
Smoke or sparking around electrical devices
If you notice any of these problems, it is important to have a certified, electrical contractor check the electrical system as soon as possible. If your insurance provider has never requested an electrical inspection, it is very likely that this will happen sooner rather than later. Like you, your insurance provider wants the assurance that your home is safe.
Our Blue Crest Electric technicians would be happy to address all your aluminum wiring needs.
With summer in full swing, some homeowners may be noticing higher electrical bills. When the weather gets warmer, air conditioners or fans are used to keep homes cooler. Having a summer electrical maintenance routine will help to beat the heat and keep your electrical costs down.
The following is a checklist of some summer electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should know.
Summer Electrical Maintenance Items To Help Save Energy
Use your barbecue to avoid using heat generating appliances inside
Use a microwave to cook to avoid generating heat and use less wattage
Air dry laundry to avoid using the dryer as much as possible
Have your AC system checked to ensure it is working efficiently
Use ceiling fans on slow speed to keep air circulating and add a slight breeze
Have an electrician inspect and tighten all major electrical connections
Install programmable thermostats which control temperature more accurately than older technology.
Upgrade your lighting to energy efficient LED
Turn off the lights when you leave a room
If possible, unplug appliances, devices and chargers when they are not in use. Even when turned off, some devices will still draw power
Change your furnace/air conditioning filter every three months. Dust and dirt on the filter will slow the airflow and make the unit work harder
Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hot days to help keep the heat out
Other Summer Electrical Maintenance
Test all smoke/CO alarms monthly. Replace back-up batteries if required
Make sure all outdoor outlets are GFCI protected and have weather-proof covers. For more information on GFCI protection, click here
Check all power tool cords for damage before use
Use extension cords rated for outdoor use and properly sized for the task. Check the cords for frays or plug damage. A damaged cord should never be used
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your summer electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
With home ownership comes the responsibility to maintain everything in the home. This includes the electrical. The following are some electrical safety tips for new homeowners to keep in mind.
Electrical Safety Tips For Indoors
Warm outlets could be a sign of a bad connection
Never overload the circuits
Replace damaged electrical cords or plugs
Keep electrical cords and appliances away from water
Always unplug an appliance by the plug head rather than pulling on the cord
Never run electrical cords under doorways or carpets
Test C/O & smoke alarms monthly. Replace batteries if required. For more information on C/O & smoke alarms, click here.
Outlets near water should be GFCI protected. Be sure to test monthly
Install tamper resistant outlets to protect young children
Extension cords should not be used as a permanent source of power
Electrical Safety Tips For Outdoors
All exterior outlets must be GFCI protected
To protect the sensitive components inside GFCI outlets, an in-use cover should be used
Test exterior GFCI outlets monthly to make sure it’s working correctly
Only use electrical cords that are rated for outdoor use and correctly sized for the task
Do not fly a kite near power lines
Keep tree branches clear of any power lines
Watch out for power lines when using a ladder or other outdoor equipment
When a generator is used, make sure it’s not plugged directly into the outlet without a transfer switch
Never hang string lights over a pool or hot tub
Common Electrical Safety Problems In Older Homes
Undersized service for what homeowners required
Outlet count is inadequate
Outdated two-prong outlets
Frequent blown fuses or circuit trips
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
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.
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.