Who is Responsible for Electrical Equipment Attached to Your House, the Homeowner or Power Company?

The wires coming down from your power company’s main power supply are the responsibility of the homeowner. This includes the meter socket but not the meter clock. The picture to the right shows a meter with a damaged wire that has a poor repair. Electrical tape will not protect this cable correctly and is the responsibility of the homeowner, NOT Your Power Company!

The weather head is where the homeowners responsibility ends and the power company’s begins. This picture shows a weather head that is falling off of the structure. This would be the responsibly of the home owner to repair and not the electric company. Loose weather heads make bad connections and can cause voltage problems in the house that will damage electronic devices and could cause electrical fires.

Still not sure who is responsible for your homes electrical service, call Powersupply Electric to come out and look before you have to find out the hard and expensive way!

What do I need to fuel a generator?

Earlier I posted about the size and type of generators.  As a follow-up I would like to talk about fueling a generator.

A portable generator, as I mentioned before, is powered by gasoline.  The nice thing is that gas is easy to obtain as you need it.  The down side is that you will have to manually start the generator and you will need to make sure you always have some on hand if the power goes out at your home.

The standby generators are a little trickier but once installed much easier to maintain.  They use the same fuel you use for heating your home.  Part of the cost of the standby generator is the cost of hooking it up to your fuel source.  If you use gas, a heating and cooling professional can hook your generator to your natural gas supply.  If you use oil or electric, you can connect a propane tank to your generator.  Again, a heating and cooling professional can hook it up for you at a minimum of 10 feet away from your generator.  An oil supply company can fill up your fuel tank as scheduled.  When hour power goes out, you won’t have to worry about gas as it will be programmed to kick on automatically.

What Size Generator Do I Need?

When it comes to generators, size does matter.  Generators come in many sizes as well as prize ranges.  Our qualified electrician can help you determine what is best for you.  At Powersupply electric, we suggest a generator at least 7000 watts. Here are some guidelines to consider.

Portable generators are the least expensive.  They are great for a short time and a limited amount of electricity.  The downside is that they will not come on automatically and you will have to keep fuel in it as well as on stand by.  Also, if you have any physical disabilities, this many not be suitable for you.

Stand-bye generators are more expensive once they are installed, you have less to worry about.  They turn on automatically when your power fails and they run themselves once a week to keep the oil and other parts ready a well as charge its battery.  Another expense to consider is having a fuel supply connected.  These generators can be powered by diesel, gas, propane, and natural gas  and are ideal for anyone on go and not home often or anyone having a physical disability.

Here is our chart for your general costs and power needs.  We have a worksheet to download for you to go over with our electrician.

7,500 Watt Portable (6) Circuits
 Cost $2,500.00
Well Pump (2)
Refrigerator
Furnace
Sub Pump
Freezer

10 Kw Auto Generator (12) Circuits
 Cost $5,200.00 (Plus Gas or LP Hook Up)
Well Pump (2)
Refrigerator
Furnace
Sub Pump
Freezer
Water Heater
Lighting
Receptacle
Microwave

20 Kw Auto Generator
 75 amps (Equal to 100 amp Service) Cost $11,000.00 (Plus Gas or LP Hook Up)
Can Start An A/C Compressor Under Load
Will Power 1,500 Square Foot House

30 Kw Auto Generator 
125 amps (Equal to 200 amp Service) Cost $21,000.00 (Plus Gas or LP Hook Up)
Can Run Multiple HVAC Systems
Will Power 2,500 Square Foot House

50 Kw Auto Generator
200 amps (Equal to 400 amp Service) Cost $67,000.00 (Plus Gas or LP Hook Up and Esc.)
Can Run Just About Anything Residential
Will Power 5,500 Square Foot House
Add 30% For Diesel Up To 30 Kw.
10% Less Power With (NG)

Looking to Reduce the Electric Bill

Lower Electric BillsSavings on Electricity

Here are a list of things that we have found use up a lot of electricity if they are not operating efficiently:

Refrigerator/Freezers – If they are old, they may be inefficient and run constantly.

Electric range (if applicable) – Again if it’s old, it may not be as efficient as it could be. Also if you bake/cook a lot, it may raise your bill. Gas is more efficient for cooking that electric (IMHO). I think electric ranges/ovens waste a lot of energy in pre-heating.

Lights – Consider replacing non-essential lighting with fluorescent units. We have yard light that gives us as much light as two 60 watt bulbs and uses only about 35 watts.

Dryer – Make sure it is clean and free of lint. Consider the use of an off-peak meter. The power is cheaper, but you have to use during times when overall electrical demand is lower (late evening etc.). Check with your local power company for more information.

Hot water (if applicable) – If you have electric hot water, that could account for a large part of your bill. If possible, switch to gas. If that is not feasible, reduce the temperature of the tank to 130-140 and insulate it with a jacket. The best value for hot water is what is called ‘on demand hot water’. It is also known as tankless hot water. It heats the water as you use it. You have a continuous stream of hot water and don’t have to heat it while you store it. The initial cost can be prohibitive, but if you have a lot of family members or use large amounts of hot water, you realize savings pretty quickly.

Air Conditioning – If it is an older model, it may not be as efficient as it could be.

Overall, check with your local power company. Some offer programs where they will help you find areas in your house that are using excess power. Some will even help you make changes to become more efficient.
Walter A.

We Reduced Our Electric Bill by 60%

Here is a good strategy:

  1. Change the furnace filter at least every 30 days.
  2. Buy a programmable thermostat. See if the Electric company can give you a rebate. They do in AZ.
  3. Install ceiling fans (less likely to run A/C a long time)
  4. When using dishwasher, don’t use heat dry. Instead do it late at night and open dishwasher to air dry.
  5. Lower temperature on water heater. Don’t go to low or clothes and dishes won’t get cleaned properly.
  6. Wash clothes in cold water as much as possible.
  7. If you must use the dryer, then place 2 or 3 dry hand towels in with a load of wet clothes. Cuts drying time down almost in half.
  8. Turn heat down a few degrees at night
  9. Call Electric Company for tips. Usually they will come out and give you tips. Sometimes they even give free light bulbs. See what discounts they offer during non-peak hours.

As I shop for an electric supplier, what questions should I ask?

As you shop for electricity, be ready to ask competing suppliers the following questions:

  • Is the supplier licensed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC)?
  • What is the price per kilowatt hour (kWh)? Is the price fixed or does it depend on time of day or usage?
  • Are all taxes included in the supplier’s price?
  • What is the length of the agreement? Can your price change in that time? If so, when can it change and how will you be notified?
  • Is there a cancellation fee or any penalty for switching suppliers?
  • Does the supplier offer a choice of energy sources, such as renewable energy?
  • Will you receive one bill or two?
  • Does the supplier offer a budget billing plan?
  • Is there a bonus for signing up?
  • Posted in Power Supply Electric, Powersupplyelectric Blog

 

Room Air Conditioners

As we are getting over our first heatwave in the Northeast, we thought now would be a great time to think about this.

A window air conditioner is one solution to cooling part of a house. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/kschulze.A window air conditioner is one solution to cooling part of a house. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/kschulze.

What does this mean for me?

  • Room air conditioners are less expensive and disruptive to install than central air conditioning systems.
  • Room air conditioners can be a cost-effective alternative to central air conditioning systems.

How does it work?

Room air conditioners work by cooling one part of your home.

Room or window air conditioners cool rooms rather than the entire home or business. If they provide cooling only where they’re needed, room air conditioners are less expensive to operate than central units, even though their efficiency is generally lower than that of central air conditioners.

Smaller room air conditioners (i.e., those drawing less than 7.5 amps of electricity) can be plugged into any 15- or 20-amp, 115-volt household circuit that is not shared with any other major appliances. Larger room air conditioners (i.e., those drawing more than 7.5 amps) need their own dedicated 115-volt circuit. The largest models require a dedicated 230-volt circuit.

Energy Efficiency of Room Air Conditioners

A room air conditioner’s efficiency is measured by the energy efficiency ratio (EER). The EER is the ratio of the cooling capacity (in British thermal units [Btu] per hour) to the power input (in watts). The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner. National appliance standards require room air conditioners to have an energy efficiency ratio (EER) ranging from 8.0–9.8 or greater, depending on the type and capacity, and ENERGY STAR® qualified room air conditioners have even higher EER ratings.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reports that the average EER of room air conditioners rose 47% from 1972 to 1991. If you own a 1970s-vintage room air conditioner with an EER of 5 and you replace it with a new one with an EER of 10, you will cut your air conditioning energy costs in half.

When buying a new room air conditioner, look for units with an EER of 10.0 or above. Check the EnergyGuide label for the unit, and also look for room air conditioners with the ENERGY STAR label.

Sizing and Selecting a Room Air Conditioner

The required cooling capacity for a room air conditioner depends on the size of the room being cooled — room air conditioners generally have cooling capacities that range from 5,500 Btu per hour to 14,000 Btu per hour. A common rating term for air conditioning size is the “ton,” which is 12,000 Btu per hour.

Proper sizing is very important for efficient air conditioning. A bigger unit is not necessarily better because a unit that is too large will not cool an area uniformly. A small unit running for an extended period operates more efficiently and is more effective at dehumidifying than a large unit that cycles on and off too frequently.

Based on size alone, an air conditioner generally needs 20 Btu for each square foot of living space. Other important factors to consider when selecting an air conditioner are room height, local climate, shading, and window size.

Verify that your home’s electrical system can meet the unit’s power requirements. Room units operate on 115-volt or 230-volt circuits. The standard household receptacle is a connection for a 115-volt branch circuit. Large room units rated at 115 volts may require a dedicated circuit and room units rated at 230 volts may require a special circuit.

If you are mounting your air conditioner near the corner of a room, look for a unit that can direct its airflow in the desired direction for your room layout. If you need to mount the air conditioner at the narrow end of a long room, then look for a fan control known as “Power Thrust” or “Super Thrust” that sends the cooled air farther into the room.

Other features to look for include:

  • A filter that slides out easily for regular cleaning
  • Logically arranged controls
  • A digital readout for the thermostat setting
  • A built-in timer.

Installing and Operating Your Room Air Conditioner

A little planning before installing your air conditioner will save you energy and money. The unit should be level when installed, so that the inside drainage system and other mechanisms operate efficiently.

Don’t place lamps or televisions near your air-conditioner’s thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

Set your air conditioner’s thermostat as high as is comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner; it will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.

Set the fan speed on high, except on very humid days. When humidity is high, set the fan speed on low for more comfort. The low speed on humid days will cool your home more effectively and remove more moisture from the air because of slower air movement through the cooling equipment.

Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air through your home without greatly increasing electricity use.

Fireplace Lighting Ideas

Effectively lighting the fireplace creates an ambiance and enhances decor.
A fireplace quite obviously can be used as a device for illumination as well as a source of heat. Lighting designs can help highlight your fireplace whether there is a fire burning in it or not. The choice of lighting style that you choose for your fireplace will depend in large part upon the specific design of the unit as well as the effect you are trying to create. Does this Spark an idea?
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Decorating Ideas Above a Fireplace

Sconces
Sconces are a traditional way of applying lighting effects around the fireplace. Fireplaces with a mantel benefit from sconce lighting, which casts accent lighting on objects placed on the mantelpiece. The full effect can be accomplished by placing the sconces 6 inches from the edge of the mantel and about a foot above it.

Candlestick Lamps
Fireplaces that are designed to hearken back to an old-fashioned kind of decor like Colonial or French Provincial are prime candidates for decorating with electric lights that resemble long candlesticks. These lights usually won’t provide enough lighting to work by, but can lend the fireplace a more authentic ambiance that highlights your
Eye in the Sky
The book “Fireplace Decorating and Planning Ideas” recommends installing a recessed, directional “eyeball” lighting fixture in the ceiling about 3 feet out from the wall of the unit to illuminate a portrait hanging above the mantel. If your ceiling has a slope, you can accomplish the same dramatic effect by installing a surface-mounted track light.
Grazing
Highlight the entire fireplace with a grazing lighting effect using recessed downlighting. This is an effective choice for fireplaces made of stone or brick, as well as any fireplace constructed of material with a noticeable texture.

Dimmer Switch
No matter what kind of lighting fixture you choose, consider adding a dimmer switch. The ability to dim the lights to a barely perceptible glow or raise the illumination quotient high enough to read by can simulate the effect of a crackling fire. Using a dimmer switch is especially effective if you have chosen to place candlelight bulbs on the mantel, but this concept can be used whether you go with the sconces or the eye in the sky idea.
By Timothy Sexton, eHow Contributor

To use or not to use small electric heaters?!

With heating budgets under strain during winter months, a lot of homeowners turn to heaters to assist in keeping the chill of winter at bay. Supplementing with electrical heaters is wise for a short-term solution; however there are a number of safety items that should be addressed when using electric heaters.
When choosing an existing or even a brand new unit, a number of items should be considered including:

Check plug in electric heater cord ends and outlets for any melting or discoloring. Discoloration could be due to heavy draw on the circuit for long periods of time. If not addressed the outlet and the heater can both be ruined, and at worst it can cause a fire.
Never use an extension cord to run an electric heater. This adds resistance to the line and will cause the heater and cord to overheat.

Keep cloths, curtains, and furniture away from all electric heat sources. Electric heat weather it is baseboard mounted to wall or plug in type both get very hot and can ignite any kind of fabrics.

If at any time you experience any of the following: Recurring circuit tripping, burning smell and/or a cracked or discolored outlet, you are URGED to contact a qualified electrician, right away to determine the causes and possible solutions available.

Ignoring any of these warnings signs could lead to damage of the unit, damage to an outlet, or worse, could cause a house fire. In addition to being aware of the conditions of the items being used to help stretch heating budgets, be sure to have batteries properly installed in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the residence.

As safe home, is a happy home!