Every homeowner should know at least the basics about the electrical systems in their home. If something were to malfunction or cause problems, you should know what you might be dealing with and how you can fix it (or prevent it from happening in the future). To help you get started, the pros at Roman Electric have prepared a guide on everything you need to know about your home electrical system.
1. Understand the Importance of a GFCI
Most homes have ground fault circuit interrupters pre-installed. However, if you have an older home, you might have to install it yourself. GFCI outlets can prevent electrocution—essentially, if the GFCI senses electrical difference flowing into the current, it will immediately shut off the circuit. This is especially useful in places where appliances are exposed to water. A GFCI can protect human life so it is important that you them installed around your home. The National Electric code requires them installed in places like your bathroom, kitchen, basement and even outdoors.
2. Find Ways to Save Electricity
There are numerous simple steps you can take to save electricity and on your electric bill. Here are some ways you can easily save electricity in your home:
- Reduce Energy Vampires
Energy vampires are devices or appliances that eat up electricity even when they are not being used. As long as they are plugged in, they are slowly increasing your electricity bill. Make sure that you unplug devices like your laptop charger, hair dryer, and coffee machine when they are not being used. If you’re going on vacation, consider unplugging other larger appliances as well.
- Turn Off Unnecessary Lights
If you are not using a certain room in your home, make sure the lights and fan are on. During the day, make use of the sun!
- Switch to LEDs
LED lights are significantly more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer.
3. Know the Main Parts of Your Electrical System
Here is some home-electrical vocabulary you should know:
- Electric Meter
The utility company’s lines extend to your home and are connected to your electric meter. Here you can measure the amount of electricity your home is using.
- Main Service Panel
Electricity comes into your house from the main service panel and is essentially distributed to your electrical home appliances on hot wires. The current is then returned back to the utility on neutral wire which completes the circuit.
- Disconnect Switch
Located on the exterior of your home next to the meter, the disconnect switch can shut off power from outside your home.
- Main Circuit Breaker
The main circuit controls the power going to the branch circuit breakers, which control the power being distributed to your home appliances. Turning it off shuts off power to the branch circuit breakers and your home. If you don’t have a disconnect switch, the main breaker can be used to shut off power to your home.