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Where Does my Electricity Go?

Have you ever opened your electrical bill and wondered how your little house has managed to consume so much electricity?  I certainly have, especially when the July electrical bill comes for the electricity that was consumed in June.  It is always a shock to watch your bill double or triple in a matter of weeks.  But – where is all of that extra electricity going?  And where does the bulk of our electrical consumption occur during standard times?

Your Home – Electrical

One of the worst consumers of electricity is also one of the most essential appliances in your home.  It is the HVAC unit, or the appliances you may use if you do not have central heat and air ie. fans, window AC units, plug in heaters or electric blankets and more.  We like to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature regardless of the temperatures outside.  There are only a few things you can do to reduce this monthly expense.

Raise/Lower your thermostat. Raising your thermostat temperature setting a few degrees in the Summer or lowering it a few degrees in the winter is an easy way to save big on your electric bill.  Wear shorts and tank tops around the house in the Summer to keep comfortable and bundle up in the Winter with slipper socks and fleece or flannel house clothes.

Have your unit serviced regularly. Regular servicing will ensure that your HVAC unit is working properly and performing to its maximum potential.

Install a HVAC unit or replace an older, less efficient one. If you are using a Wall AC and fans etc, the electrical costs of those appliances can be overwhelming.  Many local electrical companies can assist you with finding financing or government programs and rebates to help you with the cost of replacing an older less efficient HVAC unit with a newer more efficient unit.

Electricity in the Kitchen

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Our kitchens tend to be chock full of energy-using appliances, large and small.  Most kitchens have a refrigerator, freezer, and dish washer.  Some stoves also run on electricity.  Many people own microwaves, coffee makers, espresso machines, blenders, bread machines, mixers, crock pots and more!  While the energy usage of each of these individually may be small, they can certainly add up in terms of over all energy usage.

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The fridge and freezer – it is estimated that about 4% of the annual energy costs in your home comes from the fridge and freezer. Although this doesn’t seem like a whole lot, in most homes it reaches right about $100 a year. By keeping this appliance clean you can reduce the amount of energy used to keep your food fresh.

The oven – in most cases, a gas oven will be more energy efficient than one that is electrically powered. Although an oven that has a self-cleaning feature included will often be better insulated and thus energy efficient, using this feature excessively will be a huge waste of energy. Instead work to use a lid or tin foil to keep food from spilling over.

The dishwasher – in most cases the dishwasher accounts for about 2% of energy costs in the home. By rinsing dishes before loading them, you will save a significant amount of water cleaning here. No matter how full you fill the dishwasher, it will still use about the same amount of energy so don’t be afraid to load it up.

Small Appliances – unplugging your small appliances when they are not in use can also help keep your energy costs down as well as providing more safety from an electrical fire.

Small changes in the kitchen can reduce the amount you are spending on energy appliances in your home. Assess the products you have, and determine how you can reduce costs.

Laundry Room Electrical

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Although there are only two main appliances in the laundry room, they account for a high amount of the costs of your home. The easiest solution here is to switch to more energy efficient models. If this isn’t practical for you, make changes that will increase efficiency:

The washer – between both the washer and the dryer, 6% of the energy used in the home is accounted for. For clothes that aren’t terribly soiled, wash a full load in cold water rather than hot or warm. This will reduce the energy costs for this appliance.

The dryer – there are models of dryers that come with moisture sensors. These can detect when clothes are dry, turning off the appliance when necessary. Although the washer can be filled to the brim, the dryer needs a little extra space to efficiently dry all articles of clothing.

Electrical in the Living Room

You and your family probably spend a lot of time in your family room. There may be a few appliances in here that will consume more energy than you realize:

The lighting – the lighting is all throughout your house, but it is important to analyze where it is most used, and turn it off when not in use. For the entire house the lighting accounts for about 12% of the bills. Switch to energy efficient bulbs and turn off switches when not in use to reduce this cost.

TV and DVD players – This will vary greatly on how much the TV is being used, but in general this will account for 3% of the homes energy expenses. To keep these appliances from sucking energy when not in use, unplug them. This can be made easier by plugging them into a power strip that can turn off everything at once.

For more help with your electrical questions and issues in the Sacramento area, call A1 Electrical at 916-482-3400!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Lighting

Lighting – Its Not Just For Indoors Anymore!

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Wilmington LED outdoor lighting

Are you looking to update the exterior of your home?  Or interested in adding some instant curb appeal?  Wanting to add an extra layer of security to your home?  While at the same time increasing the resale value?  The answer:

OUTDOOR LIGHTING!  Outdoor lighting can deter potential criminals from attempting to enter your home at night.  They also help beautiful and modernize your home.  Custom outdoor lighting allows you to highlight your home’s best features and helps with resale!  If you are looking to sell your property soon, consider that many potential buyers work during the days and may be seeing your property for the first time at dusk or after.   And many potential buyers like to come “check out the neighborhood” after dark before committing to a home purchase.  The right lighting could help make that all important great first impression.

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When it comes to outdoor lighting, there are two options, and the right lighting for your application depends on your choice.

Option #1:  Would you like to have outdoor lighting that stays on all night long?  If you are trying to illuminate dark areas of your yard all night or want your home to always look its best and deter anyone with bad intentions, this is the option for you.  You want to select more energy efficient lights with longer life spans due to the amount of use they will be getting.   The experts at A1 Electrical can help you select the right outdoor lighting for your application.

Option #2:  Would you prefer to have your lights come on only when needed?  When you put your lights on a motion sensor, you can afford to have brighter lights since they will only be on when the sensor is triggered.  This is advantageous if the primary purpose of your lighting installation is security.

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If your primary motivation for installing outdoor lighting is for landscape beautification, please keep the following tips in mind:

– Low Voltage is your friend!  You don’t need to blast your home with a zillion watts of bright white to have an impact.  The BIGGEST impact you would see is on your electric bill!  You can create a beautiful warm and inviting outdoor space without dramatically increasing your monthly power bill.

– What do you want to illuminate?  What are your home’s best features?  Are there certain areas you want to highlight (or, hide)?  Do you want an all-over glow, or a more dramatic use of light and dark?  There are down-lights and up-lights available which direct focussed light either up or down to create different effects.

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A1 Electrical Can Help You Select the Best Outdoor Lighting.  Some benefits of outdoor lighting include:

Beauty/Aesthetics- landscape lighting can help showcase the BEST features of your home, and his the ones that are less attractive by directing the eye.  At A1 Electrical we can design the outdoor lighting installation that will bring out the best in YOUR home!

Security – A well lit home is a safer home.  Thieves and other nocturnal criminals obviously want to avoid discovery.  The best way to deter them from entering your home is to keep it lit, preventing any dark hiding spaces that a criminal could use to get access to your home and family.

Safety – beyond the added safety provided by the layer of security outdoor lighting adds to yoru house, it can also help illuminate and avoid potential safety hazards.  Have you ever stumbled over a root in your front yard while walking the garbage can to the road in the dark?  Or caught your toe on a sprinkler head?  Landscape lighting can help make your outdoor area safer to navigate.

A1 Electrical would appreciate the opportunity to assist you with any of your outdoor lighting needs.  Please contact us at 916-482-3400 to discuss a custom outdoor lighting installation for your Sacramento area home!

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What Is a Journeyman Electrician?

If you have an outlet that is not working or have breakers that keep tripping or need help installing a light fixture, you know who to call – and Electrician.  Jobs dealing with electricity can be dangerous and require proper training to complete safely.  Electrical work is generally beyond the capabilities of your typical DIYer.  However, you probably don’t know that there are different skill levels of electricians out there with varying amounts of training and experience.

Journeyman Electricians vs. Master Electricians

Licensed electricians fall into one of two main categories:  Journeyman and Master electricians.

A Journeyman electrician has generally:

  • Completed a training course (usually two years);
  • Worked as an apprentice with a licensed electrician for several years (the require varies by area of the country);
  • And successfully completed a California licensing exam.

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This training qualifies him or her to work alone on most electrical installations and repairs and on both homes and businesses.

A Master electrician has gone beyond this level and used his Journeyman training to create a name for himself and a reputation for excellence.  To become a Master electrician, a person must work as a journeyman electrician for a number of years.  The exact number of years varies by state.  After they have the required years of experience, the electrician becomes eligible to take more advanced training and must pass a master electrician licensing exam.  In order to keep this designation, they are required to complete a certain number of hours of continuing education each year on related topics to stay up to date on new code requirements, products and procedures.

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In addition to performing the same work as a journeyman electrician, a master electrician can supervise journeymen electricians and work as a building inspector.  Depending on the scope of your work, you may want to hire a master electrician rather than a journeyman – for example if you are having an electrical system completely replaced, upgraded or installed from the ground up where the work is fairly extensive or complicated.  Their added experience and training may come in handy, whether they are performing the work themselves or overseeing journeymen electricians.

If you need electrical work done in or around Sacramento, California give A1 Electrical a call at 916-482-3400!

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The Holidays are Coming, The Goose is Getting Fat!

With the nights cooling off and the air getting crisper, our thoughts begin to turn to warm woolen socks and crackling fires, mittens and hot chocolate, fresh apple cider and warm pumpkin pie, thick cozy sweaters take the place of tank tops and we lovingly unwrap our favorite leggings and boots.  Ahhh, Fall!

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And with the change in Seasons, we notice pumpkins sprouting up in all kinds of odd places.  Grocery stores.  Big Box stores.  Online.  In Facebook feeds.  The holidays are set to begin and people are primed and ready to start singing Noel and dragging crumbling boxes of holiday decorations down out of the attic!

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But before you plug those puppies into your sockets, let us share with you some resources to help make your holiday not only MERRY, but also VERY – Safe.

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Findings from a 2013 ESFI consumer survey indicate that more than 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations.  Almost two-thirds of respondents use electric lights in their indoor decorating scheme, while more than half use lighted decorations outside their homes.  More than 60% of those who decorate their homes for the holiday utilize at least one extension cord.

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  • Holiday Safety Short Video – Over-decorating your home can cause undue stress on your home’s electrical system.  Your home was designed to accommodate a certain electrical load, and overloading your equipment can have disastrous consequences.  Check out this amusing short video!
  • Buyer’s Guide: Purchasing Tip Sheet – Give your loved ones and yourself the gift of safety. Here is a helpful tip sheet for purchasing new holiday lighting and electric decorations that can help keep your family safe!
  • Christmas Tree Safety Tips – Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent electrical and fire hazards related to the use of Christmas trees. A
  • Candle Safety Tips – Candles start almost half of all home decoration fires. They are beautiful and their smell can add that perfect holiday ambiance!  Click the link to see how to use them safely!
  • Connect to Safety: Cord Safety Tip Sheet – Cords of all kinds need to be properly inspected, used and stored to reduce your risk of a fire.  Follow these tips to help you keep cords out of sight but also safely on your mind.
  • Childproof Decorating Tips – We recommend taking the following safety precautions to ensure that this special time of year does not result in a decoration-related tragedy.  Please take a moment to review these child-specific safety tips.
  • The Right Light: Holiday Lighting Safety Tips – When planning and implementing your lighting design, keep these holiday lighting safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of property damage, injury or death.
  • Prepare with Care: Pre Holiday Tips – Planning and preparation is essential to reducing your stress during the holiday season.  While we can’t help you manage your budgets, guests, and travel arrangements, we can help you plan and arrange for safe holiday decorations.
  • Indoor Lights and Electrical Decor Safety Tips – While decorative lights and other electrical decorations add to the splendor of the season, they can increase the risks of fire and electrical injuries if not used safely.
  • Outdoor Decoration Safety Tips – Take steps to protect your home and family from electrical and fire hazards related to outdoor holiday decorations with these quick tips.
  • Wrapping Up the Holidays – Start the New Year off right and get a head start for next holiday season with these important post-holiday safety tips.

ddf2d8459d132aa874dd30779e23d9c6For more information on Electrical safety, please visit:

Electrical Safety Foundation International

Electricity * ZAP * Childproofing Your Home for a Toddler!

When you first brought home your squirming little bundle of sunshine, keeping them safe seemed reasonably simple.  Correctly install your car seat, lay them on their back to sleep in their bumper-less crib and never drop them!  Keeping baby away from choking hazards was easy, since they only drank liquids and stayed where you put them when they were set down.

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But NOW your baby has grown into an intrepid toddler!  And as charming as their uncoordinated first steps may be, they also herald the beginning of a much more dangerous time in your child’s development.  Toddlers are FULL of seemingly limitless curiosity.

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Your child may also be teething – which means that everything that fits WILL find its way into his or her mount – including unprotected power cords and plug ends.

 

As they learn to walk, toddlers often – well, toddle.  They sway from side to side and often lose their balance and will grab anything close by and take it down with them.  Easily tipped over large appliances such as TVs should be bolted securely to the wall or placed in a stable base tall enough to prevent your toddler tipping it over during a fall.

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The best piece of advice for baby/child proofing your home is to change your perspective and see your home from the perspective of a toddler.  Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around your home.  Do you see any electrical outlets that look like fun to stuff forks in?  Or any cords that look tasty that would feel great on your gums?

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Electrical outlets should all be covered by furniture or electrical outlet covers for safety.

Outlet plugs can keep children safe when nothing is plugged in, but what about when you’re using the outlet? Some outlet covers are designed with this in mind, and feature a box that covers the entire outlet plate while allowing room for a plug. Cords feed through holes in one side, letting you keep electronics plugged in without making the outlet vulnerable. There are similar covers designed for power strips.

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If you have cords running along walls or across floors, they need to be modified with child safety in mind as well.  Babies and children can pull or chew on those cords, and they’re even a tripping hazard for adults. Use rubber or plastic strips called duct cord covers to conceal these cords under smooth humps that protect the cords and make walking safe.

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For an added sense of security, contact A1 Electrical and we will be happy to come and conduct and electrical safety walk through of your property to point out and address any potential toddler electrical safety issues.

Lighting for Your Outdoor Kitchen!

Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

Today is the first official day of Summer!  With the rising temperatures, residence here of Norther California and the Sacramento Valley in particular like to take advantage of their outdoor living space.  Many homes here have cool, clean pools to take a dip in and cool down and many also have outdoor kitchens complete with BBQs, burners, ovens, trash compactors and even dishwashers!  Here in California we like to live in luxury outdoors or in! outdoor-kitchen-designs-amazing-view - Copy

After a long afternoon spent splashing and floating in the pool, there’s nothing like firing up the grill and throwing on some thick rib eye steaks and vegetable skewers.  There is no more beautiful view than a lazy summer sunset while you enjoy your dinner.

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To extend the time you can spend pool side and enjoying the amazing outdoor living available to us here in California, selecting the proper lighting for your outdoor kitchen is extremely important.  You want to be able to take advantage of every moment that the season has to offer!  And the temperatures remain pleasant and warm well into the evening hours.

There are three main types of lighting you will want to consider:

Task lighting (for areas where you will be cooking)

Ambient Lighting (for areas where you will be eating)

Safety Lighting (for walkways)

 

Task Lighting

Task lighting is the lighting needed to see while you are seasoning that perfect steak or chopping those tender delicious ripe summer time fruits and vegetables!  You need proper lighting to bone out a chicken or fold a foil packet. This lighting should be bright, but not bright enough to destroy the overall ambiance or create a harsh lighting experience.  Depending on your backyard kitchen, you may choose recessed can lights to perform this function.  They are durable and do not call attention away from the beauty of your surroundings.  remember, whatever lighting you choose to use, be sure it is rated for outdoor usage.  Even if you have a roof or overhang, you want to choose a light that can safely operate in damp conditions.

You need to make sure that there is adequate lighting at the grill area.  Your resident grill master must be able to see when the food is properly cooked.  Grill task lighting can be accomplished with either Halogen or LED bulbs. The most important thing is that you get a nice, bright white light—this will help you see most clearly and ensure that the food coming off the grill tastes good, is presented well, and most importantly, is safe to eat.  Also, make sure any cabinets have adequate lighting so they can see their spices and ingredients.  You would not want a steak seasoned with sugar instead of salt!  Or cayenne pepper instead of black pepper! This can also be done with LEDs, which can be installed under lips in the cabinet so you won’t be able to see the lights themselves—just the glow they cast. Such lighting can enhance the aesthetics of your outdoor kitchen area while making it easier to see what you’re doing while cooking.

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When those rib eyes come off the grill, you need a safe, lit area to sit and enjoy them.

The best type of lighting for outdoor eating areas is LED, which is highly efficient and durable. When it comes to keeping insects away, meanwhile, one of the best things to do is install a ceiling fan, which can be wired with lights and will discourage insects over a wide area.

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Safety Lighting for Walkways

Last but not least, it’s important to make sure you have adequate lighting along any pathways from your home to your outdoor kitchen. Walkway lighting can be accomplished with any type of low-voltage lighting, but we prefer LED for this task—they’re efficient, long-lasting, and get the job done better than any other type of lighting.

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Proper lighting is the KEY to enjoying long lazy summer days in the Sacramento Valley.  If you are considering building or renovating your outdoor kitchen, please contact A1 Electrical at 916-482-3400.  We would be happy to help design, provide and install any lighting you need to make this Summer the best one yet!

How to Create the Perfect Home Theater System!

Ready to take your home to the next level?  One of the most exciting home modifications to make is the addition of a spectacular home theater system.  It is perfect for parties or family relaxation and provides hours of entertainment as well as financial returns on your investment.

A home theater system can range from simple (think a TV with comfortable seating) to the elaborate (custom theater seating, enormous flat screen TVs and elaborate surround sound systems – not to mention a pop corn cart and rack of candies!).  Whether you are going for a decadent theater experience or a more modest family style home theater, there are some common components to consider when planning your addition.

Simple:

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Elaborate:

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The most crucial components of any home theater system are:

Home Theater Lighting

WE LOVE LIGHTS!  Considering our love for all things electrical, this is not surprising.  When it comes to home theater systems there are several types of lighting to consider.

First, you should think about how you want your lighting arranged.  Where do you want to draw attention?  Do you want up lighting to draw the eye up towards a decorated ceiling?  Do you want down lighting to illuminate custom carpeting and prevent trip/fall hazards?  Recessed lighting in long rows is a popular choice for all over ambient lighting.  Would you like lighting along the pathways that lead to the entrance/exit/restroom so guests can easily find their way during the feature without having to turn on a bright light?  Dimmer switches are also a great idea for a home theater lighting installation.  Nothing says “Shhh, the movie is starting!” like slowly dimming the theater lights.

Types of light fixtures – to fully customize your home theater, be sure to take a look at all the options you have available for lighting. These include:

Wall Sconces:

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Recessed Lighting:RecessedLightingTheater

LEDs:

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Rope Lighting:

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Visual Equipment:

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After lighting, wiring and projectors should be your next concern when building your home theater. Keep long wires organized and out of site with cable tidies and make sure to label everything clearly so you know what goes where.

In-wall wiring is something to be handled with caution. It’s best to call an electrician to fit your in-wall wiring. To be safe in the home, in-wall wiring should be well-insulated and kept out of reach of children and drafts.

If you decide to go with a projector instead of a TV, make sure you choose a good brand that will fit your wall or screen size. This is key: a projected image that is too small won’t fill the screen, but if it’s too large it may extend beyond the wall.

Sound Systems:

SoundSystem

Your sound system will make or break your home theater experience. A good sound system won’t be too loud or too quiet. Instead, it should fill the room with good quality sound to make your guests feel like they’re really in a theater (or in the movie!).

 

Seating:

Your home theater system should reflect your personal style and the overall feel of the theater experience you are trying to create.  But above all else – IT SHOULD BE COMFORTABLE!  Theater seating ranges from traditional fold-down style seating to individual plush recliners, couches or chaise lounges.  Whatever makes you comfortable!

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Want to install a home theater system?

You can put literally anything you want in your home theater system. So when you’re ready to set it up, call A1 Electrical! We offer home theater wiring installation and can help set up your lights and wiring to create the ultimate viewing experience.

See some examples below – and get inspired!

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Summer Safety Tips from A1 Electrical

Live in the Sacramento, Roseville, Elk Grove area? The weather is getting warmer and summertime is fast approaching.  It is time for trips to Folsom Lake, BBQs in back yards, hours spent lazily drifting on a pool float or down the Sacramento River.  But with all of the fun and excitement of Summer, there are several possible electrical safety issues that become more prevalent as the weather heats up.  A1 Electrical wants to make sure you and your family all enjoy a safe and happy Sacramento Summer!  Here are some tips for your family this season:

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Around the House Summer Electrical Safety Tips

Electricity and water DO NOT MIX!  Summertime means more time spent in and around the pool and sprinklers.  Electrical devices should never come into contact with water.

Keep all electronics, electrical toys and appliances away from water at all times.  This includes swimming pools, water slides and bath tubs.  Keep your electronics FAR away from the pool’s edge.

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Be SURE that all electrical connections to your pool/spa are well grounded.  The residential electricians at A1 Electrical can inspect or upgrade your pool or hot tub wiring to ensure your family’s safety this Summer.

Make sure all major appliances are connected directly to a grounded outlet – not via an extension cord.  This includes washers, dryers, refrigerators, wall AC units, large fans or any other high-energy usage gadget.

Make sure that outlets in any of your “wet rooms” (rooms where water is available- such as kitchens, bathrooms or bars) have GFCI outlets installed.  These outlets provide an added layer of protection.  They cut power to themselves when they sense electricity flowing improperly (such as in the presence of water) and can help save you from dangerous or deadly shocks.

Never use any appliance with a frayed or damaged cord!

STAY SAFE OUTDOORS TOO!

Stay safe outdoors with these simple safety tips from the electricians at A1 Electrical:

NEVER approach an electrical substation or downed power lines for any reason whatsoever.  If you see someone enter a dangerous area, do not follow them!  Call 911 immediately for assistance.

Never play near or touch a power line with any part of your body, toy, stick or any other object.  ALWAYS assume that power lines are active and dangerous.

Play with kites and air born toys well away from power lines.

Advise your children against climbing trees that are near power lines.

If you have any questions about our summer electrical safety tips, contact us at 916-482-3400.

Stay safe this Summer!

Outdoor Lighting – Beautiful AND Functional!

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One of the easiest and least expensive ways to dramatically improve your home’s curb appeal while also adding a layer of security is by installing outdoor lighting.  These lights can be used for safety – to prevent trip hazards and allow you to navigate outdoors at night time .  They are also beautiful and can highlight the features of your property that you are the most proud of.  They also play an important role in the security of your home – a well lit home is less likely to be targeted by thieves and other criminals.

What Outdoor Lights Should You Install?

The choices you make in outdoor lighting depend on what your goals are for the area.  Are you looking to improve safety and visibility?  Is it mainly for security purposes?  Or are you seeking to highlight a sculpture or particularly stunning rock outcropping or tree?  Are you looking to draw attention to your gardens?  And how many hours per day do you anticipate your lighting to be operating?

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If you want to leave the outdoor lighting on day and night, you may want to consider energy efficiency as a larger factor when selecting your outdoor lighting.  This means choosing a lower voltage bulb.  A1 Electrical has experts on hand that can help you select the Outdoor lighting that is best for your Sacramento home.

If you choose to have your lights on a timer, or a motion sensor, the efficiency may not be as important to you.  Perhaps your choice will depend more on personal style.

A few things to keep in mind if you are choosing to install outdoor lights for landscaping purposes:

Keep it low-voltage:  Your yard generally needs only to be dimly lit to make a visual impact. Bright lights are simply not necessary.   Keeping the voltage low will keep your energy bills manageable.

What do you want to illuminate?  There are two kinds of outdoor lights – uplighting and downlighting.  Just like they sound, uplighting is pointed from the ground upwards, while downlighting shines down towards the ground from a high position.  Most people use a combination of both to highlight their favorite landscape features.LT2

A1 Electrical offers outdoor lighting that will increase your home’s:

Beauty – landscape lighting can be used to showcase interesting features in your home’s architecture or your yard! At A1 Electrical, we can design and install outdoor lighting that will illuminate and call attention to your landscape at night. Landscape lighting is a fully customizable way to improve the look of your house after the sun goes down, particularly if you enjoy entertaining or you want to improve your home’s curb appeal.

Security – dark spots in and around your yard can be dangerous, particularly if they are around entry points into your home. With low-voltage landscape lighting, you can shine a light on potential problem areas in your home and deter intruders late at night!

Safety – in addition to keeping your home safe from intruders, low-voltage outdoor lighting can make walking around your yard safer. It can be used to light up stairways, paths, etc. to prevent tripping and injuries.

To learn more about A1 Electrical’s outdoor lighting installation services in California, contact us today! 916-482-3400

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