With school soon to be back in session, let’s brush up on our electrical safety knowledge with these lesser-known lessons in safety and cost savings.
Slow Cookers and Power Strips Don’t Get Along
Forget bringing a power strip to the family reunion to plug in the myriad potluck dishes. According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), products that generate heat, such as slow cookers, hair dryers, space heater or toasters should always be plugged directly into the electrical outlet. They require too much power to safely use with a power strip or even an extension cord.
Identifying Electricity Wasters Could Save 10% on Your Electricity Bill
Modern-day electronics don’t turn off completely. They remain in standby mode to perform updates, record your favorite shows and basically wait for you to return home, sucking up energy as they do. This standby power is referred to as phantom load. This lost energy is called vampire energy or leaking energy. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that electricity wasters account for 10% or more of your electricity bill.
If you want to see if your home is affected by leaking energy, turn off your AC or heating unit, your electric water heater and everything electrical in your home, but leave it all plugged in.
Then, check out your electrical meter. Is the wheel still whirling or are the numbers still going up? If so, your devices are still using electricity.
You can also use a plug-in device like a Sense Home Energy monitor (high-end around $240) or Kasa Smart Plug Mini ($23) that measures energy usage and allow you to turn off devices remotely from an app.
Aluminum House Wiring Eventually Must Be Replaced
Over time, insulation on house wires can become frayed or broken, creating a fire hazard. Houses built between 1965 and 1973 are at risk because many were built with aluminum wiring, which the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says is 55 times more likely to reach “fire hazard conditions” than regular copper wire. Contact a qualified electrician to perform a complete inspection.
Right-Sized Extension Cords Are a Must for Tools
Ever notice your electric lawn mower, hedge trimmer or leaf blower not getting enough power? It could be because the extension cord is too thin or too long. If that’s the case, the motor can be damaged or destroyed. Be sure to use a cord rated to provide the proper amperage the tool requires, which is listed on the tool. And keep in mind that overloading an extension cord can cause a fire or shock hazard.
Appliances Need Their Space
Without proper air circulation, electrical equipment can overheat and short out, becoming an electrical fire hazard. Make sure your appliances have proper air circulation and avoid running electrical equipment in enclosed cabinets. Pay especially close attention to your gas or electric dryer, as these need to be situated at least one foot from the wall to function safely.
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, Consumer Product Safety Commission, U.S. National Fire Protection Association