Maintain your home's electrical system and keep the lights on and the power flowing.Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
It's a true miracle: the electrical power that infuses your home. Your electrical system keeps the lights on and the household humming, and illuminates every aspect of life. Power has its price, however. Treat your electrical system with respect: Learn these simple safety routines and schedule maintenance chores.
Be alert for problems. Keep a careful eye out for electrical hazards at home. A flickering lamp or crimped extension cord could cause a short or worse, a fire. Be on the lookout for frayed or bent wires, or a shock or tingling when you touch an appliance.
Repair quickly. If an appliance appears to have an electrical problem, take it out of active use until it is repaired. Don't pass the trouble on to others by donating or selling the item. Have the appliance repaired if possible; if not, dispose of it to keep every home safe.
Know your circuit box. Most homes have a central circuit box or breaker panel. This service box controls delivery of power to different areas of the home. At the circuit box, you can cut power to any — or all — areas of the home.
Take time to get familiar with your circuit box. If your circuit box uses fuses, lay in a supply of extra fuses for emergencies. Work as a team with another family member to label each circuit; labels will make it easier to cut the power in the right place if an emergency arises.
Test GFCIs monthly. Ground fault circuit interrupters, known as GFCIs, are special outlets used in kitchens, bathrooms and utility areas — anywhere water is present. GFCIs have a sensor that detects fluctuations in electrical current; when current surges, they shut down to protect against shock.
GFCIs have small colored buttons that permit you to reset a tripped circuit. The red "test" button allows you to test the GFCI. Test GFCIs monthly, and after any thunderstorms, to be sure their protective function continues to work. Replace them if they no longer trip when the "test" button is pressed.
Note: Do not plug refrigerators or freezers into outlets with GFCI protection. In the event the circuit is tripped without your knowledge, the appliances will shut down, spoiling the food inside.
Use electricity safely
Prevent shock hazards and system outages by observing these safety rules:
Checklist for household systems
Household systems work hard to keep us comfortable and safe. Keep them running smoothly with this maintenance list:
Every 3 months:
Every 6 months:
Reduce energy costs
In these days of rising prices, opening the power bill can be a shocking experience. Save money and lower your household's energy use with these ideas:
Light it right. Home lighting is a major player when it comes to energy use. Reign in unneeded lighting with low-tech practices such as turning off lights when you leave the room, together with high-tech methods like motion-sensitive light switches.
Light it well with CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use one-third the energy of their conventional counterparts — and they last eight to 12 times longer. To help cushion higher up-front costs, look for governmental rebates that assist with the transition to CFLs.
Harness the power of power strips. Even when not in use, computer equipment, televisions and home electronic devices continue to draw power. Cut them off at the source with by using a power strip to turn these devices on and off. Look for new "smart power strips" that will power down printers and peripherals automatically when the computer is turned off.
Bundle up the hot water heater. Adding an insulating jacket to the hot water heater lowers energy costs for hot water. Don't miss any exposed hot water pipes; plastic pipe insulation is inexpensive and easy to apply.
Double up in the oven. When you turn the oven on, make its energy use count. Slide side dishes in next to the Sunday roast for a whole-meal solution. When baking potatoes, add extras, for making potato salad later in the week.
Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited