Slaying Energy Vampires: How Much Energy Do Idle Devices Draw?

You have probably heard that a great way to save money on utilities is unplugging devices that are not in use, like phone chargers, appliances, and hairdryers. While this is true, the question is, how much money? If you?re like most people, saving a few pennies on your electric bill isn?t worth the hassle of unplugging and re-plugging your electronic devices every day (even though, as we will explain further below, this is not actually necessary). In today?s post, our Cary electrician dives into the true costs of ?energy vampires?, and how much you can save by pulling the plugs.

How Much Power Do Energy Vampires Consume?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends an average of $1,444 annually on electricity costs. It is estimated that 14% to 20% of those expenses go to powering idle ?vampire? devices. One interesting thing to note is that, while overall electricity costs are decreasing, the amount of wasted energy has shot up from its 2015 levels, which ranged from 5%-10%. This is likely because, as our gadgets become more capable and powerful, more and more of them are making their way into our homes, meaning more and more items to plug in and forget about.

The Biggest Idle Energy Draws in Your Home

Research conducted by utility company Save On Energy found that the devices which consume the most energy in an average family home are:

  • Desktop computers: About $80 per year when on, but idle; about $25 when asleep
  • Set-top digital cable boxes: About $50 per year when turned off
  • Set-top DVRs: About $40 per year when turned off
  • Set-top satellite box with DVR: About $30 per year when off
  • Gaming consoles: About $30 per year when turned off

With so much focus placed on unplugging small devices like phone chargers, these figures may be surprising. However, the research showed that small plug-in devices are only drawing ?pocket change? when compared to the devices listed above.

  • USB hub: About $1.60 per year
  • Laser printer: About $2 per year
  • Scanner: About $3 per year
  • Mobile phone charger: About $0.60 per year
  • Coffee maker: About $2 per year
  • DVD player: About $2 per year
  • Floor lamp: About $2 per year, per lamp
  • Surge protector: About $1 per year

As you can see, if you are worried about all these small devices draining your power, you can rest easy?the biggest offenders are the large devices in your office and living room.

Controlling Energy Vampires with Our Cary Electrician

Now that you have learned how much you could be paying for idle electronic devices, you are probably eager to learn what you can do about it. The following methods can be used to control energy vampires:

  • Use smart power strips that automatically cut off power when devices are not in use.
  • Make use of energy-saving features such as the ?sleep mode? that is commonly built into computers.
  • Upgrade to energy-efficient devices which have a lower-than-average standby consumption rate.
  • Invest in ?smart home? devices, such as a smart thermostat, that can automatically adjust energy settings when you are away

If you live in Apex, Holly Springs, Garner, Raleigh, or Cary, our local electrician can help you make these upgrades to your home and more! We can also perform an electric energy audit to determine which areas of your home are drawing the most power. To schedule an appointment, please click here!

Celebrating Earth Day: How Our Apex Electrician Can Help You Go Green

Electricity might not directly emit fumes like coal and natural gas, but it still has a big impact on our environment. That?s because, according to the EPA, about 40% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. is used to generate electricity. And while it?s true that a small percentage of electricity is generated from renewable resources like solar, geothermal, and wind power, most of it is generated by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas.

In celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, below are some big ways you can cut down on your energy use and reduce your carbon footprint. As a bonus, you?ll be cutting down on your electricity bills, too!

But First: How Does Electricity Use Fossil Fuels?

If you are looking for an electrician in Apex, we?re guessing that it has probably been a long time since you sat in a science classroom and learned how electricity is generated. No problem! Here?s a bit of a refresher. First, the power plant burns the fuel in order to create heat. The heat is then used to create steam, which turns huge turbines and generates electricity. Some power plants use water, wind turbines, nuclear power, or other sources, but less prevalent than those that use fossil fuels. In 2019, natural gas and coal provided 63% percent of U.S. electricity, while 18% came from nuclear power, and 18% came from renewable resources.

So, even though electricity may seem like a very clean power source on the surface, the more you use, the more fossil fuels are being consumed.

How Your Electrician Can Help You Cut Back on Your Electrical Use

Don’t get us wrong: we love electricity. It?s an amazing force that has revolutionized the care and quality of life for millions of people around the globe. With that said, we are also happy to help our clients find ways to reduce their energy consumption. And there are a lot of ways your local electrician can help you do that! Some options include:

  • Installing LED lighting everywhere possible. Modern LED lights are much warmer than older versions, and use only a tiny fraction of energy used by regular bulbs (about 75% less!) LEDs also last up to 25 times as long, saving you even more money in the long run.
  • Installing ceiling fans can help cool your home using wind power, not air conditioning, cutting your energy costs.
  • Installing a programmable thermostat helps you eliminate wasteful energy use when you are away from home. The thermostat adjust itself by a few degrees when you are away.
  • Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances. Large household appliances are responsible for roughly 13% of your total household energy use. Although energy-efficient appliances usually have higher up-front costs, their annual operating costs are 9-25% lower than conventional models.
  • Drive an electric or a hybrid vehicle. Even though an electric car still consumes fossil fuels indirectly in the way we mentioned above, research has shown that they emit less greenhouse gases and air pollutants over their lifetime than a fuel-burning car, even with electricity generation fuel factored into consideration. Because of this, many states also offer tax incentives for households who switch to electric vehicles! Your local electrician can install an electric vehicle charger in your home garage for easy power-ups.

Ready to Install Energy-Efficient Solutions in Your Home or Business? Call Our Apex Electrician Today!

If you would like to install energy-saving solutions in your commercial or residential Apex property, call Alternate Current Solutions today. Our skilled electricians can safely and securely install ceiling fans, LED lighting, electric vehicle chargers, and more. We can also perform an energy audit of your home to determine where you are expending the most energy. For a free service estimate, please contact us here!

Tips on Reducing Your Energy Costs, From Our Holly Springs Electrician!?

Now that the new year has arrived, you most likely have new resolutions concerning your health, your hobbies, and your financial goals. One easy place to save money is your utility bills, especially your electricity. The following tips from our Holly Springs electrician cost very little, and can help you realize big savings on your home maintenance expenses.

Open the Shades

Sunlight is your best friend during the winter. During the day, be sure to keep the curtains open in order to let in as much light and warmth as possible. At night, keep all curtains and blinds closed to reduce the chill emanating from cold windows.?

Wash on the Cold Cycle?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 90% of energy used by a washing machine goes into heating the water, and 80% of dishwasher energy does the same. Most clothing doesn?t need to be washed in hot water to be clean, so you can save a lot of energy by using the cold setting.?

Adjust Your TV Settings?

Many TVs are configured by the factory to be in ?store mode?, a level of brightness that makes for an attractive display in a showroom. However, that amount of brightness is unnecessary in your living room. Adjusting your TV to the ?home? setting will reduce your energy expenditures and extend the life of your TV.?

Clean Your Air Filters?

A dirty air filter makes your heating system work harder, so be sure to change it out every few months. You can also opt for a washable filter, which can last up to 5 years. This simple change will save you money and cut down on the dust in your home as well.?

Use LED Lighting?

This holiday, save on your power bill by using low-energy LED light strings. LED lights last up to 10 times longer than incandescent lights, while consuming 70% less energy. In addition, a single LED bulb will not compromise an entire strand in the unlikely event it burns out, so you can celebrate the season with a lower bill and an emptier trash can.?

Use Electric Space Heaters Wisely

Space heaters are best used to heat up a chilly area, like a bathroom or desk, rather than a full-sized home. This is because, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, central heating systems use only 43% of the energy that an electric space heater uses to heat the same area. Running a space heater continuously instead of using central air can drastically raise your electric costs.?

Need Help Being Energy-Efficient? Call our Holly Springs Electrician!?

It?s estimated that the average household will use up to 200 kWh more in the winter. This is firstly due to the high cost of heating a home in the cold, and secondly due to the fact that most people stay inside more during the winter, running the TV, radio, lights, computer game system, and computers. That means that you are far more likely to place a drain on your system and face electrical issues!

If you need any help with your outlets, circuits, fixtures, or miscellaneous electrical item, just call Alternate Current Solutions. We?ll inspect your electrical system and help you save money in every place you can! To schedule a free electric inspection in Holly Springs, click here.?

Learn How Christmas Lights Affect Your Electric Bill from Our Holly Springs Electrician

Whether you dream of a single, beautiful Christmas tree in your front window, or want to go all-out and be ?that house? on the block this year, there?s no doubt that your electric bill is going to see a spike this December. The question is, how much? In today?s post, our Holly Springs electrician discusses just how much power Christmas lights consume, and what you can do to keep costs low. (Note: we use the national average cost of $0.13 per kWh for the estimates in this post. To calculate your own true costs, we recommend looking up the current going rate in your area.)?

How Much Power Do String Lights Consume?

Almost all of us will utilize string lights in our holiday d?cor. These simple, compact lighting options usually come in strings of 100, with each string consuming about .039 kW per hour. That?s about 1 kWh per day for one 100-light strand. If you leave that single string light on from morning to night, you?ll end up paying about $3.82 per month.

Now of course, very few of us will stop with just one little strand. It takes about 700 lights to fill a 7-foot Christmas tree, 1,000 for a 10-foot tree and about 2,000 for a 12-foot tree. Assuming you run the lights all day, without using a timer, and assuming that every hour of use costs $0.13, the numbers work out to:?

  • A 7-foot Christmas tree strung with 700 lights: $26.79 a month
  • A 10-foot tree strung with 1,000 lights: $38.28 a month
  • A 12-foot tree strung with 2,000 lights: $76.57 a month?

And that?s all just for one tree! You can see why using a timer to turn the lights off during the day is really essential if you don?t want to take a dive on energy costs. Most stores that sell lights sell timers right beside them, and you can make timing even easier with home automation devices.?

What About LED String Lights?

The second biggest way to save money on Christmas lighting, besides using a timer, is using LED lights. A strand of 100 lights only consumes about 0.0045 kWh per hour, which comes to about $0.44 per month. That means that if you switch the lights to LEDs, and run them for the same number of hours, the new costs are:?

  • A 7-foot Christmas tree strung with 700 lights: $3.10 a month
  • A 10-foot tree strung with 1,000 lights: $4.43 a month
  • A 12-foot tree strung with 2,000 lights: $8.86 a month?

There you have it?a by-the-numbers demonstration of why LED Christmas lights are such a great way to save on utility costs. Even better, since they consume less power, it?s less likely that you will need to add another circuit or upgrade your electrical panel, and less likely you will suffer the consequences of not doing so (i.e. an electrical fire).?

Need Holiday Lighting Help in Holly Springs? Call Alternate Current Solutions!

Alternate Current Solutions is here for all your holiday lighting and electrical needs. Whether you need help installing a rather complicated lighting setup; are experiencing overload issues resulting from extra guests at your house; or have another electrical challenge, just give us a call! Our Holly Springs electricians are happy to help you save money this holiday this season and beyond. To request an appointment for a free estimate, fill out our easy contact form here.?

Should I Should Add Another Circuit for Holiday Lights? Ask Our Holly Springs Electrician

Christmas lights are so small and beautiful, it?s hard to think of them as hazardous. However, you may be surprised to learn that the majority electrical fires and injuries happen around this season, all because of Christmas lighting. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that an average of 150 homes are burned, 8 people are killed, and 14 people are injured every year due to faulty holiday light installation. And we?re betting that many, many more are forced to pay for costly repairs to their electrical systems. In order to stay safe this holiday, here are some extra precautions to take before setting up your lights?from adding extra circuits, to scheduling an electrical safety inspection.?

Why Can Extra Christmas Lights Cause Fires??

When you install multiple strings of lights and light displays around your house and yard, you are subjecting your electrical system to a demand it isn?t accustomed to?and might not be equipped to handle in the first place. The average receptacle circuit in your home can handle between 15-20 amps, and most household wires can only handle 15. That means that if you try to run, for instance, 16 through over a wire that can only handle 15, the wires and the breaker may start to overheat and cause a fire.?

How to Calculate Your Electricity Demand

Given what we said above, it is important to calculate how many amps your holiday lights (and any new electrical appliances you may receive for Christmas) will draw through the wiring. You can do this by dividing the wattage number by your voltage. For example, say you plug a 1000-watt slow cooker into a 120-volt outlet. If you can only handle 15 amps, you?re getting close to the limit already. If you add anything else for a big light show, you?re very likely to overburden them.?

Other Holiday Energy Costs to Consider

So far, we?ve discussed the excess power consumed outside your home during the holidays. But what many people forget is that the power use inside the home can spike, too, especially if you are expecting guests. More friends and family members staying for the holidays mean more lamps, TVs, laptop chargers, phone chargers, hair dryers, and everything else plugged in and drawing power from the system. And the appliances you already use will likely be used more often and for longer stretches of time (for instance, more people using the oven, toaster, fridge, etc.)?

All this is why, even if you?re not planning a holiday light show that?s particularly ambitious, it?s still a good idea to schedule an electrical safety inspection before the season gets into full swing. Your Holly Springs electrician can investigate your wires and outlets and let you know if you?ll be able to safely handle the increased demand. If your system is old, in need of repair, or only ever built to handle the needs of a 1980s family, we can install an additional circuit and upgrade your electrical panel so that your utility bills stay low and you aren?t at risk for a fire or short circuit. (All this goes double for those expecting Santa to deliver a brand new stove or fridge this year!)?

Need an Electrician in Holly Springs NC? Call Alternate Current Solutions!

Our Holly Springs electricians are here to make your holiday safe, stress-free, and successful as possible. Instead of wrestling with lights, wires, circuits, and switches, just let us do it?it?s our job, after all! (We?re not saying we?ll help put up your Christmas tree…but we might be able to be talked into it.) To request an? electrical inspection in Holly Springs, click here to fill out our contact form for a free estimate!?

Can I Save Money With An Electric Space Heater? Our Electrician in Holly Springs Discusses the Pros and Cons

Shoppers and nature-lovers first know that it?s fall when the leaves start to change and pumpkin spice products start lining the shelves. But here at Alternate Current Solutions, we know it?s fall when we start to hear questions about electricity conservation during the cold winter months. The most popular question by far is on the subject of electric heaters. Is it possible to save money by turning off your HVAC and plugging in a box heater? The short answer is, no. For the long answer, keep reading.

When an Electric Space Heater Makes Sense

Many electric space heater brands advertise themselves as money-savers. However, this is only true under certain circumstances. An electric space heater can save you money, if you lower the central air, and use it in one small room only. However, can an electric space heater keep your house as warm as central heating does, for less money? In most cases, no. You will only reduce your expenses by reducing your level of warmth. In other words, you could realize the same savings and the same comfort level by simply cranking down the thermostat.

How Much Does It Cost to Heat a Room with a Space Heater?

If you?re still not convinced, let?s crunch the numbers. To figure out how much you?ll spend using one 1,500-watt space heater, use this formula:

  1. Multiply 1500W by X hours of use = A.
  2. Multiply A by your electricity rate per kilowatt hour = B.
  3. Divide B by 1000.

Most electric?space heaters use 1,500 watts at full power, so that is what we use in the formula above. If your heater uses more or less power, you will want to change it to that number. Since you should never use a space heater while sleeping, we?ll calculate the cost of running a 1500-watt heater at 16 hours a day.

Based on the national average electricity rate, it would cost $2.82 a day to use a space heater for 16 hours a day. Multiply that by the meteorological length of winter, 90 days, and you have $253.8 for 3 months? worth of heat. If your monthly heating bill is less than $84, this might be a money-saver. However, remember that this is to heat just one room with one heater. Plug-in electric heaters of this wattage will generally be ineffective at heating an entire house.

Get Winter-Ready with Our Holly Springs NC Electrician

If you need to cozy up a cold bathroom or office, electric space heaters are wonderful little devices. However, if you want to realize significant cost savings on your electric bills, there are many more effective steps you can take by calling our Holly Springs electrical contractor! We can help you swap out your lighting for energy-efficient bulbs; install energy-efficient appliances, and conduct an energy audit to determine where your system is struggling to draw power. To schedule an appointment, click here!

Our Cary NC Electrician Explains How Electric Cars Really Do Save You Money!

Switching out your gas-powered car for an electric vehicle feels good, but does the amount you save on fuel offset the cost of the increased electricity? In short, yes! On average, an electric car will save a driver $630 per year over its gas-powered counterpart. Read on to learn why electric cars are good for the environment and your wallet.

How much will I really save on fuel?

Studies have consistently shown that charging an electric car is cheaper than filling up the tank. Generally, it costs $1,117 per year to run a new gas-powered vehicle, and only $485 per year to run a new electric one, meaning you can save about $800 a year on fuel?even after factoring in the increased electricity cost.

How you can save even more on maintenance

Electric vehicles usually have a higher up-front cost than gas-powered cars, but they are also very low on maintenance. Since electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than those powered by gas, you don?t have to pay for things like oil changes, spark plugs, and more. You?ll skip out on paying for things like oil changes, spark plugs and more. Plus, electric motors are able to slow themselves down, which puts less strain on your brakes.

The priciest maintenance component associated with an electric vehicle is replacing the battery pack, which can cost thousands of dollars, and can be necessary more than once over the life of a car. But you can extend the life of your battery by avoiding high temperatures and overcharging. In addition, some manufacturers? warranties will cover the cost of a replacement.

With all that in mind, on average, you?ll save about $1,500 on the first 150,000 miles worth of maintenance with an electric vehicle, as well as the time it takes to roll your car into the shop.

Tax credits and incentives

Electric cars also save you money in a third way: tax credits. As a token of thanks for cutting down on pollution, the government offers a $2,500?$7,500 tax credit just for making the switch to electric. Electric cars manufactured within the last few years meet the criteria to qualify, though you should be sure to double check.

Drawbacks of electric cars

All this sounds too good to be true?so are there any drawbacks? Well, yes. Like most things that cost less money, electric cars are less convenient, time-wise. You?ll need to carefully plan for when you charge up your car. While filling up at the gas station only takes a few minutes, a full charge at a home EV charging station can take up to 8 hours. And even at fast, commercial charging stations, it will take 30 minutes to charge the battery pack to 80%

Get EV charging station installation in Cary NC!

A home charging station is a must for an electric car. While you may have a few charging stations around town, they are few and far between. If you would like to install a residential EV charging station in Cary NC, call our friendly electricians at Alternate Current Solutions! Click here to learn more about our EV charging installation services, or click here to schedule a free estimate.