Multiple Edison bulbs hanging in the dark.

By performing a few electrical checks and upgrading outdated electronics, not only will you make your home safer, but you will also make it more energy-efficient. Many electronics we use in our homes are low maintenance, but this doesn’t mean you should just forget all about them. You may spot a few electrical problems in your house by performing this simple but diligent walkthrough.

Lighting

The energy-efficiency of your home greatly depends on its lighting. It accounts for about 12.5 percent of your energy bill. So, start by checking whether you have any CFL or incandescent bulbs in your home. A CFL light has a spiral shape and an incandescent bulb looks like your classic, old-school light bulb.

When it comes to energy efficiency, LED lights are your best bet, so consider replacing your old light bulbs with LED lighting. LED lights don’t contain harmful gases, are 90 percent more energy-efficient, and can last up to 20 years.

Check the lighting facts label and look for lumens when shopping for bulbs. Consider the brightness of the lights as well. Check with your energy utility service to see if they offer incentives such as rebates for the use of energy-efficient lighting. To reduce lighting use, consider using timers, dimmers, and sensors.

Electronics and Appliances

When it comes to wasting electricity, the electronics and appliances in your home may be the biggest culprit. The best thing to do would be to replace all of your old appliances with Energy-Star rated units, but that can get a bit pricey.

So, for starters, estimate the energy use of the appliances and electronics in your home. The process is easy, all you need is an electricity usage monitor. You should be able to find one in your local hardware store, and the most basic model shouldn’t cost more than $25.

This can help you figure out which appliance you should replace first. As your budget increases, you can replace the next least energy-efficient device, and so on.

Some devices consume electricity even when they are turned off. This is also known as a phantom load. To prevent phantom loads, be sure to unplug devices, adapters, and chargers when they are not in use.

However, no matter how eco-conscious you are, it’s easy to forget to turn off or unplug items, especially when you are leaving home in a hurry.

If this home electrical check often slips your mind, consider purchasing smart power strips. A smart power strip is a small device that helps you cut the use of electricity. This device detects when an electrical item is in standby mode and shuts them off.

Check Your HVAC System

To ensure your HVAC system is running up to par and not wasting electricity, schedule professional maintenance in spring and fall. If your HVAC system is over 15 years old, the most cost-efficient and energy-efficient solution is to replace it.

If you suspect your HVAC system is using more electricity than necessary, consider installing a programmable thermostat. It will allow you to set the heating and cooling programs according to a daily or weekly schedule. 

Check for Exposed Wires

Exposed wires don’t necessarily waste energy, but they can be a safety hazard—and they often go unnoticed. You should visually inspect all the visible wires in your house for cracks and splits, but especially the ones in your attic or basement.

Look for signs of chewing because rodents like to nibble on wires. If you have a mice problem, you will have to take care of it first.

If you really need to move the exposed wires, be sure to use insulated gloves, or, even better, call an electrician. If the exposed wire is on a cord that you can unplug, you may be able to repair it with electrical tape.

Manage Power Settings

Even the smallest checks and changes can lead to big energy savings. For instance, you can turn on energy saver mode on your laptop or computer. You can also remove the screen saver. By managing the power settings on your laptop, you can prolong the battery’s life and cut electricity consumption.

When doing laundry, you can set your washing machine to cold wash. This will save 90 percent of the electricity that would’ve been used to heat the water. Be sure to wait until you have a full load.

See If Outlets and Switches Are Hot to the Touch

Warmth coming from an outlet or switch is a bad sign, but heat is even worse. If an outlet is warm to the touch, there is probably an issue with the item that is plugged into it. It can also mean that the wiring is damaged or outdated. If you have this problem, simply remove the plug from the outlet and call an electrician.

If the outlet is hot to the touch, a fire may be brewing in the circuit. Turn off the circuit that is powering that outlet and call an electrical professional immediately.


by Kevin Jefferson

Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.

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