Shop Local

The Importance of Shopping Local and Supporting Small Businesses

Often the reason business owners decide to branch out on their own is because they feel as though they can offer a better service or product than what is currently available, because of this there are so many benefits to shopping local and supporting small businesses.

We’ll delve deeper into a couple of those benefits and also talk about the different ways you can show your support.

 

 

A Better Shopping Experience

In today’s fast-paced world, online shopping is the preferred method of shopping. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s cheaper however it completely eliminates human interaction. When you shop in store, you’re getting the desired product and/or service as well as an experience. The character of the business will often reflect the owner’s personality and by choosing to visit the store, you’re not only giving yourself the opportunity to get to know the person behind the service and/or product but you’re also giving them the opportunity to get to know you. Often, you’ll find employees will happily take the time to listen to your needs and find you the best solution because they care (and not just about your money) which is difficult to say about larger corporations with monthly sales targets determined by an interstate head office.

 

Strengthen the Local Economy

When you shop local, it comes back to full circle. Let’s break that down, shall we? By spending money, you’re creating demand. By creating a demand, there is an increased need for jobs. With an increased need for jobs, there are lower unemployment rates and lower unemployment rates lead to more people having a disposable income. That disposable income will (hopefully) be spent locally which then creates more demand and starts the cycle all over again.

It’s simple, when you shop local – you’re investing in your community.

 

So, how can you support local and small businesses?

Spend money, of course – particularly important during the holiday season! However, if you are unable to do so here are a couple of other ways to show your support for free.

  1. Raise Awareness
    Talk to your friends and family, share a Facebook or Instagram page or leave a positive review for others to see.
  2. Educate Yourself
    Research the local businesses in your area and make some time to go see what they have to offer.

 

 

Unfortunately, owning a business is tough these days. Online shopping and large franchises pose bigger and bigger issues to business owner’s every day.  So remember that when you support a local or small business – you’re supporting local people, local jobs and someone’s dream.

Static Shock vs Electric Shock

What is the difference between Static Shock and Electric Shock?

Over the past hundred years, electricity has evolved and adapted into a necessity which society cannot live without. We have become quite dependent on its uses; making it hard to escape, from flicking the kettle on in the morning to the powerful yet beautiful strikes of lightning during a storm.

Put simply, electricity is made through the burning of fuel. Australia uses either coal or a natural gas, which is burnt to heat water and create steam. This turns a turbine generating electricity, then travelling along the conductor wires, which we call powerlines, to the specified destination.

Although electricity is used every day, it can sometimes be harmful but also fun – being the core ‘ingredient’ to some experiments.

Static Shock

Static electricity, also known as electrical energy at rest, is the build-up of electric charge on a material. This charge is usually built up through friction, which is the contact between two objects which are both insulators.

One of the most common science tricks to create static shock is to rub a balloon against your hair, making your hair stand up on its ends.

Another example is to rub your rubber-soled shoes against the carpet and then touching a metal door knob, giving you a ZAP!

These things happen due to an imbalance in electrons in both objects, with one losing their electrons, creating a positive charge and the other gaining electrons, creating a negative charge.

A static shock isn’t harmful; it may be uncomfortable and cause a bit of a fright to the receiving personnel.

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Electric Shock

An electric shock is the sudden discharge of an electrical current from an electrical source, like a power point, which has enough force to pass through a human body part. This electrical energy flows through the human body part, creating a shock type feeling which can cause little to no injury or can be life threatening.

There are some different ways which you can experience an electrical shock, including; faulty appliances, power points, damaged electrical cords, electrical appliances and water coming into contact, incorrect household electrical wiring, and also a lightning strike.

Electrical shock can have little external evidence that it has occurred, however the internal effects of receiving an electrical shock could be life threatening.

An electrical shock can cause burns, tingling, numbness, nerve damage, and even cardiovascular problems. Seeking advice from a health care professional is always advised after receiving an electrical shock, even if you feel ok.

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The main difference between these two different but similar shocks, are the outcomes and the way which they are created.

Static shock is created through human effort and electrical shock is created through electrical means.

Static shock doesn’t give a harmful result and electrical shock can cause no to life threatening results.

The Most Common Electrical Issues Around The Home

The Most Common Electrical Issues Around The Home

Electricity should be seen as a tool and the ways that we can use it are endless. But we can’t forget just how dangerous it can be when installed incorrectly, not properly maintained or used without care. Issues such as flickering light, tripping circuit breakers, electric shocks and much more, all indicate possible points of concern with your home’s electrical circuit. If you are experiencing any of the following issues, please call us today to have them inspected to ensure your’s and your family’s safety.

1. Tripping Circuit Breakers

Many people are unsure about the difference between safety switches and circuit breakers within their home. Circuit breakers provide protection for your WIRING and ELECTRICALS within your home by opening the circuit when a fault is detected. They do not provide personal protection from electric shock. There are three main reasons why your circuit breaker might trip within your home.

One of the most common reasons is that you are ‘overloading your circuit’. This is an electric circuit that is carrying more current than what it can handle, running the risk of causing a fire or an injury through overheating. For example, in one outlet you may have a powerboard plugged in, that is overloaded with cords and adaptors that, simultaneously, are drawing too much current. Your outlet/powerboard may not be able to handle such a large current and therefore runs the risk of overheating. Your circuit breaker would trip to avoid any overheating, minimising your chances of getting hurt.

Your circuit breaker may also trip due to a ‘short circuit’. In your homes electrical circuit, this occurs when a live wire touches a neutral wire, resulting in high current and therefore triggering your circuit breaker. There are many reasons why these two wires can come into contact with one another. Your attachments in your home may be extremely old and deteriorated, possibly have been chewed through by an animal or pest causing them to become loose, or caused by a faulty appliance.

Ground faults are another reason why your circuit breaker may be tripped. A ground fault is when electricity finds an unplanned path to ground and are often caused by damaged wiring or faulty/old appliances. They often occur in ‘wet’ areas of the house such as the kitchen or the bathroom.

Sometimes faulty circuit breakers can be installed unknowingly. These circuit breakers can trip at lower current ratings than what are specified. If this were the case, your circuit breaker might be tripping quite frequently and need replacing immediately.

If your circuit breaker trips, identify why it may have happened and eliminate the chances of it happening again. If you cannot find the cause, or it electrically more advanced than simply unplugging a device, call an electrician today.

2. Frequent Power Surges

Power surges in the home can be caused by a number of reasons, most of them within your control. They occur when there is an interruption to the normal flow of electricity within the home, or when there is a sudden influx of electricity into the system.

Internal power surges  are most common, and may include:

  • Power hungry devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners being switched on.
  • Faulty wiring.

External influences include:

  • Animals chewing through wiring
  • Fallen tree limbs touching power lines.
  • Lightning strikes

While the actual surge of electricity is generally extremely quick, the damage that it can have on your appliances can last a lot longer. Frequent power surges can damage your electrical devices componentry and reduce their life expectancy.

To protect yourself from power surges in the home, you need surge protectors installed. There are three different types of surge protectors you can choose from:

  1. Portable surge protectors: These plug into an outlet and protect the device that is plugged into them. While cheaper than other options, these run the risk of only being able to be used once.Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 1.27.09 pmScreen Shot 2019-02-13 at 1.38.49 pm
  2. Powerpoint surge protectors: These surge protectors are installed within the powerpoint itself, and therefore must be fitted by a qualified electrician. They protect anything that is plugged into that powerpoint. 2025SFWE
  3. Main switchboard: Installed by a licenced electrician at your switchboard, these surge protection devices (SPDs) protect your entire circuit from a power surge. Should a fault occur, they switch off the power to your entire home keeping you and your family safe. PO_OvervoltageProtection_PIS_1

It’s important to remember that these are all different types of surge arrestors, and are used for different types of surges and in most cases, two types will be safest for your property. The primary type is used for large surges such as lightning strikes, to protect your motors or non-sensitive equipment. The secondary type can be utilised to protect your electronics.

3. Buzzing/Humming Outlets and Switches

A number of issues in the home can cause outlets and switches to buzz – some are normal and some may be an indication that there is something else going on. Generally, there is no need to worry, but if you are concerned, then call us today to complete an electrical inspection.

Dimmer switches work by ‘chopping up’ the current between the switch and the light, so rather than actually dimming the light itself, it flickers rapidly enough so that it appears dim. It is this ‘chopping up’ of the current that can produce vibration and therefore cause a buzzing noise. High-quality dimmer switches should have a filter to reduce this buzz, but if the noise intensifies it may be another issue. It may be a sign that you have an LED or CFL globe installed that is being controlled by a dimmer built for an incandescent globe. Your globes may also flicker if this was the issue. It could also be a sign of an overloaded switch. Dimmer switches are rated according to the maximum wattage that they can handle. If you have a globe in your fixture that’s wattage is higher than what the switch can control, then you may hear some buzzing and need to upgrade your switch.

If an outlet in your home is buzzing, then it may be a sign of an overload or bad wiring. The wires in your home may have become loose, which can cause them to hum. This is more prevalent in older homes with outdated, old, or worn out wires, but there may also be a chance that they have been installed incorrectly. To see whether it is the outlet itself, or possibly an overload, try plugging in a different appliance to see if the outlets continue to buzz. Only do this if it is safe to do so, but if you are in doubt, please do not touch it. Instead, call us today to organise an inspection. Any loose wires or connections within the home shouldn’t be ignored, as larger, more serious issues can result.

4. Electric Shocks

An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical energy source. This electrical energy then flows through the person’s body and causes a shock. Exposure to an electric shock can cause anywhere from no injury at all, if you’re lucky, to serious health issues and even death. It’s important to distinguish between whether you have experienced an electric shock, or simply a static shock.

Static shocks are simply the build up of a negative electric charge on the surface of an object. Negative charges are carried by paricles called electrons, which are found in all matter. Most electrons are packed within matter, but sometimes they can sit on the surface. If two objects come into contact with one another, the electrons on the surface will move to the material with the greatest bonding strength or pull (such as your body). This movement of electrons is the ‘zap’ that you experience, which is completely harmless.

Static shocks are nothing more than annoying, but electric shocks are a much larger cause for concern. Depending on the duration and intensity of the shock, you may experience:

  • Tingling.
  • Burns to the skin or internal tissues.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Loss of breath.
  • Interruption to the natural rhythm of the heartbeat, causing it to beat out of rhythm or not at all.

There are many situations within your home where you could experience an electrical shock. These include:

  • Faulty appliances.
  • Damaged or frayed electrical cords and wiring.
  • Electrical appliances coming into contact with water.
  • Incorrect or deteriorated household wiring.
  • Downed powerlines or lighting strikes.

If you are certain that you are experiencing electrical shocks within your home, do not hesitate any longer. Call us today to organise a site inspection before it worsens. Electricity is extremely useful within the home, but it can also be extremely dangerous.

5. Higher Than Average Electrical Bills

If you have noticed that your electrical bills have been higher than average, there may be a few reasons why. Certain things that can cause higher electrical bills include:

  • Keeping appliances plugged in and turned on when not in use.
  • Increased electricity rates.
  • Leaks in your hot water system.
  • New appliances, such a larger televisions, can use a lot more power, so be sure to purchase appliances that are ‘energy smart’.

Higher electricity bills may also be the result of old appliances or wiring within the home. Older appliances can degrade and lose their efficiency over time causing them to become large consumers of electricity. It’s important to maintain your appliances and update them when necessary to avoid paying too much for electricity. Faulty or degrading wiring can also consume larger amounts of power as it deteriorates, just to provide appliances with the necessary amount of power. It’s important to distinguish what may be causing this spike is power usage so that you can amend it. If you are unsure, call an electrician today.

I’m experiencing issues with my electricals, now what?

If you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned above, or possibly something else, please do not hesitate to give us a call. Your safety is paramount to us. Most electrical issues are typically quite detailed and as electricity can be extremely dangerous when not handled correctly, it’s important that you let a professional perform the necessary actions. Please call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 for any electrical related issues.

 

 

 

Why Should You Get An Electrical Inspection Before Buying A Home?

Artwork of a man holding live electrical cables

Why Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?

Electricity in the home can be a marvelous tool. It can be a source of light, heat, entertainment and much more! But when it is neglected, it can become more dangerous than helpful. Have a think back to the last time that you had your home or business’s electrical system checked to make sure that everything is working safely and is compliant with the latest regulations and standards. Have you EVER had an electrical inspection carried out? Is your home old or recently built? Or maybe you are in the process of purchasing. It may be time to have an inspection done to keep you and your family safe.

According to Master Electricians Australia, 15 people on average are killed in Australia each year from electrical-related deaths inside of their homes and 300 people on average, are hospitalised. The Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council also states that between 2016 and 2017 90% of the people who were fatally electrocuted in their homes were members of the general public (i.e. non-professionals).

Many electrical issues in the home go undetected to the untrained eye. This is why it is extremely important to have your home’s electrical safety inspected to ensure that you and your family can live your days free of risk.

Image showing an electrical socket on fire and smoking
http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/

What Happens During An Electrical Inspection?

During an inspection, the electrician will visually inspect your home or business’s electrical system ensuring that all wiring, system, and components meet the relevant legal standards.

Some elements of the inspection will be simply a basic visual audit with recommendations regarding non-compliant components. Others will be an in-depth audit ensuring continuity of electrical system and safety switches are tested, the polarity of the outlets. Unfortunately, as most of the electrical system is inaccessible in wall cavities, a thorough visual inspection with a testing of the electrical system is the extent that can be carried out without perforating the wall.

It is important to ensure that the person that is completing the electrical inspection on your home or business is qualified to do so. By ensuring this, you will have peace of mind knowing that they are aware of and trained on the issues to be aware of and recommend how to fix the problems should they find anything.

When Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?

Despite the importance of electrical inspections, they do not need to be carried out annually. Typically, every three to five years should suffice. Technology is constantly changing and as a result, so are the electrical standards and regulations of compliance. However, there are three major situations in which you should have an electrical inspection completed immediately.

1. If you have an older home.

As mentioned, electrical standards and technology are constantly developing and changing, and therefore, the wiring that is in an older home may be severely outdated and unable to cope with the load requirement of some modern technological appliances. It also means that it may be weathered and worn and unsafe to continue using.

2. If you have experienced a major storm recently.

South Australia can experience its fair share of wild weather and sometimes, extreme weather can cause damage to the electrical elements within a home. While you may notice any damage, it is also important to seek the qualified advice of a professional to ensure that any safety features and internal elements have not been damaged. It is especially important to have an inspection completed if appliances in your home stop working after a storm.

3. Before purchasing a new property.

It is strongly recommended that you have a building inspection completed before purchasing a property. While a building inspector will examine the structural components of your home and some minor electrical components, they won’t go into much depth. They may flick switches, check that you have smoke alarms and monitor some appliances, but to ensure your home’s electrical integrity, having an in-depth inspection completed is strongly recommended.

Your electrician will be able to identify in more depth, any significant electrical issues that your home may experience and take a closer look at the wiring that is installed. You can never be too sure of what work the previous owner may have had done in your home, or if they even used a qualified and licensed professional. Having an inspection done will ensure that you do not get presented with a hefty bill or an unsafe home after purchase.

Why Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?

1. To identify any faulty wiring.

Faulty wiring is a common cause of fires and injuries by electrocution. As mentioned, every year in Australia, there are roughly 300 people admitted to hospital as a result of electrical malfunctions within their homes. Electrical wiring has a certain lifespan, so just because it may have been safe ten years ago, doesn’t mean that its age hasn’t impacted its safety today. Many old homes have never had their wiring upgraded and wiring safety and efficiency have come a long way in a short span of time. Power and lighting circuits are now required to all be on individual safety switches. This came into effect in 1991, so if your home was built before that, then chances are your electrical system is non-compliant and not protected.

2. To notice any issues with your smoke alarms.

A smoke alarm can help save lives by providing you and your family with a strong warning if there is a fire in your home. Legislative requirements state that it is compulsory that ALL South Australian homes be fitted with a working smoke alarm and there are a few rules and regulations as to where the smoke alarm should be located and whether there should be more than one. Smoke alarms are now required to be hardwired, with a battery for back up.

Many injuries and fatalities from fires in Australian homes would have easily been prevented if a smoke alarm was present, or if their smoke alarm was working. Over time, some smoke alarms have become outdated and no longer comply with Australian standards.

During an electrical inspection, the electrician will note your smoke alarms location/s, whether you have enough in your home and whether they are working and compliant.

3. Identifying overloaded circuits.

Electrical circuits are designed to have a limited amount of electrical current. An overloaded circuit occurs when there is more demand on the circuit than it can safely handle.

If your home has limited outlets, you can be tempted to utilise multiple powerboards which would increase the demand on the circuit. When the limit is exceeded, the circuit breaker should trip, shutting off the power and removing the threat to your safety. If the circuit breaker was to fail, an overload on the circuit would cause the wiring to overheat and the wire insulation to melt, which may result in a fire.

Electrical installations can age and can become overloaded very easily, particularly in old homes where the wiring was not designed for the number of electrical appliances in use today.

The most obvious sign of an overloaded circuit is the circuit breaker tripping and shutting off the power. However, some other signs to look out for are:

  • Buzzing outlets or switches
  • Outlets or switches that are warm to the touch
  • Burning smells
  • Power tools or appliances that seem to lack power

During an electrical inspection, the electrician will identify the electrical demands of your circuits and provide you with any corrections that are necessary to avoid serious threats to your safety. These corrections may be the installation of new and additional circuits or reducing the load on each existing circuit.

4. Ensuring that your home’s electrical system is up to code and is compliant

There are certain electrical standards that your home’s electrical installation and wiring must comply with. It is impossible to know what type of work has been done on your home previously, and whether the previous owner used a licensed or unlicensed technician.

Understanding the current state of your electrical system is extremely important to be aware of your level of safety within your home and how much money you may need to pay to fix the legal issues.

In Austalia, it is illegal to complete your own electrical work if you are not a qualified tradesman. Licensed tradespeople have the equipment, training, certification, and knowledge to do the necessary work safely and in accordance with appropriate regulations and rules.

Conclusion

For the safety of you and your family in your home, it is clear to see why spending a little bit of money in the short term on an electrical inspection, may save you much more in the future, including your lives. Have a qualified electrician inspect your home or business’s electrical system to ensure that it is compliant and running as it should be.

 

 

 

Why Should You Swap To LED Lighting?

LED Lighting strip under floating cabinets in a kitchen

Why Should You Swap To LED Lighting?

We’ve heard it all before: ‘change your globes to LED globes!’ But why? Are LED globes really as good as they say? Is there really any point spending time and money switching your existing globes to LED ones? Why are LED globes so good?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and is an increasingly popular alternative to your standard halogen, incandescent, or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) globes. If you haven’t already substituted your current globes for LED ones in your home or business, then your lighting would already contain one of the other three options mentioned.

What Are Your Lighting Options?

Firstly, let’s look closely at the other traditional options. Not too long ago, you had the choice of incandescent globes, halogen globes, CFLs and LEDs however, it has been predicted that halogen lights will disappear from Australia within the next two years as the country shifts towards more efficient and environmentally options. Australia began the phasing out of poor-performing incandescents in 2007, requiring homeowners and businesses to instead install energy efficient lighting to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Then in 2010, the Australian Government then enacted a ‘Minimum Energy Performance Standard’ law ensuring only the highest performing products are to be available. However, these standards relating to incandescents, halogens and CFLs still do not meet the same energy efficiency as LEDs.

CFLs

Your CFL bulbs are reasonably cheap to buy but can cost you more to run over time. They can also wear out faster if put in a light fitting that is switched on and off constantly, such as your bathroom or kitchen. They can’t be used outside very often as they don’t work well in extreme heat or cold and can take a little longer to reach maximum brightness. They do, however, have a slightly longer lifespan than incandescents and halogens, and are slightly more energy efficient.

They work via a chemical reaction known as fluorescence. The tube contains mercury that becomes ‘excited’ as electricity is passed through the system. When the mercury begins to settle, it gives off light.

Image showing a CFL Globe
An example of a traditional CFL globe.

Incandescent Globes

Incandescent globes were simple and cheap to manufacture and therefore purchase, but besides that and their bright light, the pros stopped there! Their lifespan is extremely short and they lose around 90% of their energy to heat. However, despite this, they were probably the most common light bulb that you had in your home currently until the government placed a heavy regulation on the sale of incandescents operating at a certain energy efficiency.

Incandescent globes have the classic ‘light globe’ shape. They contain a mental filament made of tungsten inside, that acts as a bridge for electricity to flow over. As the electricity surges, the filament heats up and it begins to glow giving off light. This is also the reason why the globe gives off so much of its energy as heat, and why it is often hot to touch straight after it has been turned off.

Image showing incandescent globes
An example of traditional incandescent globes. These are the most common globes that you might recognise.

Halogen Globes

Halogen globes are a type of incandescent light, however, are stronger, designed to withstand higher pressures than incandescents and are around 30% more efficient. But while they are labelled as ‘low voltage’, they still use approximately 35W to 50W per globe, so they are still not an efficient choice to have within the home. They can also become quite hot and can, in some circumstances, becomes quite hazardous.

Image of typical halogen globe
An example of a traditional halogen globe.

LEDs

LEDs are often the more expensive option to purchase per globe compared to their more traditional counterparts, however, they are longer lasting and much cheaper to run! Using around 75% less energy than CFL globes and lasting two to three times as long, when we look at LED globes in comparison to the other options, it is clear to see just they’re the obvious choice!

An globe displaying LEDs
An example of an LED globe.

What Are The Benefits Of LEDs?

Energy Efficient

The first and most beneficial reason is that they are extremely energy efficient and will save you money on your electricity bills. They use less power (watts) per unit of light (lumens) and can, therefore, provide up to around 100 to 200 lumens per watt. In contrast, CFL globes use around ten times the amount of Watts as LED globes. Incandescent globes also lose a lot of their energy to heat rather than light (90-95% to be exact), so they are extremely inefficient to run. For reference, a 60W (watt) incandescent bulb will only put out as much light as an 8W LED bulb! It doesn’t really make sense to put these globes in your space, when 95% of what you are paying for, you are not able to utilise. So while they might seem the perfect option upfront due to their low cost, they are considered a much more inefficient option than LEDs. In a typical Australian household, lighting makes up for about 7-10% of your electricity bill (sa.gov.au). So when you think about how much you rely on lighting in your home to live comfortably, ensuring that you have the most energy efficient lighting is a small change that you can make to save big on your bills.

Graph showing the average energy usage in Watts per Lumens for typical globes
Above you can see a comparison of the average energy usage in Watts per Lumens of typical globes. You can see that the brighter the globe (lumens) the more energy it consumes (watts), as you would expect. However, LEDs remain the lowest option!

Longer Lifespan

Another positive is that they have a much longer lifespan than other traditional globes. To put it into perspective, an average lifespan of an LED globe is between 15,000 to 50,000 hours, while halogen globes last a mere 1,000 to 5,000 hours. So the need to consistently purchase and change your globes lessens when you purchase LED globes. That means less money spent on always buying new globes!

Chart showing the overall lifetime costs of different globes
A 10W LED bulb would cost $39 in total to buy and run over 10 years. Over the same about of time, five 42W halogen globes would be needed at a cost of $148. or two 12W CFL bulbs at a cost of $48.

Environmentally Friendly and Recyclable

LED lights are non-toxic, better for the environment and your family and currently the greenest choice on the market today! CFL globes, along with fluorescent tubes, contain a small amount of mercury, a requirement of 5 milligrams according to Australian Standard (environment.gov.au). While this amount of the toxic mercury does means that handling CFL bulbs requires more care and precautions, the short-term nature of the potential exposure when broken does not create a potentially large risk. Gloves should be worn to clean up a broken or no longer working CFL bulb and the remnants should be placed in a plastic bag and given to a nearby waste or disposal centre to avoid the mercury from entering the environment. To find a centre near you, head to www.recyclingnearyou.com.au. Incandescents and halogen globes cannot be recycled due to the fact that they contain a Tungsten filament that cannot be reused, but they may be able to be taken to the same recycling centres as CFLs. The best way to dispose of these globes is to simply wrap them in a few layers of paper and throw them in the garbage, not the most environmentally friendly option, or call your local disposal centre to see if they will take them. LED globes, however, do not contain any hazardous materials, are not made of glass and are completely recyclable. So if they break or stop working, simply wrap them in paper and place in your recycling bin! Safe on your family and the environment!

More Flexible Lighting Options

LEDs are considered to be ‘directional’ light sources, meaning that they can be designed to emit light in a specific direction. Those with LEDs installed in their homes can look forward to focused and concentrated light because of this, and a more energy efficient result. Incandescent and CFL globes emit light in all directions, meaning that they are often radiating heat and light in directions where it is not needed, wasting energy and your money. Having the ability to focus your lighting in your desired direction, means that your lights do not have to work as hard to illuminate the space, and therefore your energy bills stay lower.

LEDs can withstand frequent switching on and off making them perfect for outdoor flashing light displays, sensor lighting, or in areas such as the kitchen, or bedroom where lighting is commonly turned on and off. As well as this, LEDs are able to to be successfully dimmed. Most traditional lights can only be dimmed to 30% of their light output before they stop working, but LEDs are able to operate at a mere 10% of their light output (when used with LED suitable componentry).

LED Lighting strip under floating cabinets in a kitchen
LED lighting used in a kitchen as seen on The Block 2016.

Durability and Safety

As previously mentioned, LEDs are much more durable and able to withstand harsh weather conditions due to their ability to operate under extreme temperatures and low voltages.  This enables you to place them anywhere around your home, indoors or outdoors, as the cold, wind, rain and extreme heat will not affect them. LEDs also do not contain any filaments or glass enclosures but are instead mounted on a circuit board with soldered leads. This makes them virtually unbreakable and able to withstand shocks, vibrations and external impacts. Safety is no concern with LEDs as they do not give off heat and contain no harmful chemicals.

LED Lights used underneath outdoor stair railingLED Lighting can be used outside due to its durability.

While different globes work for different situations, it’s obvious to see why LED globes are the clear choice to have within your home or business. With halogens and incandescents slowly being phased out, the only competition that still stands are the traditional CFL globes. Despite CFLs still being a good choice, the benefits of LEDs in comparison far surpass those of CFLs. If you are looking to have new lighting installed in your home, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to see what we can do!

Glare – Annoying or Harmful?

Glare from a street lamp

We spend many hours in the home or office, surrounded by unnatural lighting that causes issues many people are unaware of. Glare is one of these issues that seems to be considered more of an annoyance than a health issue. But glare can cause many serious issues if not dealt with correctly. In this blog, we discuss just what glare is, how it can affect your health more than you think, and how to eliminate it.

What Is Glare?

Glare is defined by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) as ‘visual conditions in which there is excessive contrast or inappropriate distribution of light sources that disturbs the observer of limits the ability to distinguish details and objects’. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) describes it more simply as too much light and ‘an excessive contrast in which the range of luminance in the field of view is too great’. Whatever the definition is, while you may think that a small amount of glare is simply just annoying, it may be doing more damage to your health than you think.

Glare from a street lamp
Glare from a street lamp. Photographer: Bob Parks

Why Is Glare Bad?

Glare can cause many health issues, ranging from being a minor annoyance that causes some discomfort and squinting, to serious eye strain, impaired vision, decreased safety, visual and bodily discomfort, injury to your eyes and a decrease in your overall health. It is also one of the leading causes of eye strain, less-than-optimal vision, and serious eye damage.

Think about how many times you have sat there and seen a flicker of light reflecting off of the table in a room. You squint your eyes to reduce its effect, or your turn your body away so that you cannot see it. While this may seem annoying, the squinting and straining of your eyes can cause serious headaches and vision impairment, and the position of your body may cause muscle strain and discomfort.

This minor annoyance has now presented itself with serious outcomes if left untreated.

Why Does Glare Occur?

Glare occurs where a ‘source of unshielded light is brighter than the average field’ or when there is a stark contrast between a bright light and the average light of an area. To explain this further, a street lamp may not cause glare at dusk, but that same lamp may cause glare in pitch black darkness. This is because the contrast between the light from the lamp and the surrounding area is greater at night than it is at dusk.

The most common reasons why glare occurs around the home or office are computer screens, sunlight, and incorrectly shielded light and poor lighting design. The proper precautions must, therefore, be taken in order to eliminate glare and provide a healthy and productive environment. Good lighting design must be considered to diffuse the light in the room evenly to reduce the luminance or contrast. The luminance must be balanced and uniform within a room to reduce or eliminate glare and make your working or living space entirely comfortable.

Glare from a reflection
Glare caused by the harsh direct lighting onto the table and the glass from the staircase.

How Can Glare Be Eliminated?

Thankfully, there are many ways to control glare so that your days can continue with little annoyance and ensuring that the light is uniform throughout the room is the best way of making this happen. To do this:

  • Install blinds that allow light to filter through softly, but remove the harshness of direct sunlight.
  • Install dimmers that allow you to adjust your lighting accordingly. This makes it easier to control your lighting as the daylight changes throughout the day.
  • Make sure that your lighting is indirectly situated. It may help to have a professional from GEL assist you with this. Having light directed upwards so that it can bounce off the ceilings and walls rather than direct light that is situated downwards is important in dispersing light evenly.
  • Try to position your computer screen away from a window and so there is no light reflecting off of the screen. Computers emit a lot of glare so it can help to have a soft light source from behind. Sit a lamp with an LED light, behind your screen to soften the contrast and reduce the glare.
  • Move shiny surfaces, such as glossy tables, away from direct sunlight that can cause harsh reflections. Choosing surfaces with a matte finish will also assist in reducing the glare even further.
  • Keep your wall colours soft so that when the light hits them, there is very little contrast and reflection.

If you are designing your lighting for your home or office, or if you are experiencing lighting issues, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 or click here.

 

 

 

 

Are You Getting Tingles From Your Taps?

Artwork of a man holding live electrical cables

Note: NEVER ignore an electric shock or tingles from anywhere in your home, whether it is from a tap, a pipe or an appliance. It may be a warning sign that there is something more serious going on with your home’s electricity supply and here at Green Efficient Living, we take electrical safety extremely seriously.

Recently a fault in the earthing system outside a Perth home, caused a young girl to suffer a life-threatening electric shock from touching a garden tap. Have you ever experienced a small electric shock or tingle whilst touching a tap in your home?

Getting an electric shock from anywhere in your home should never be ignored – without attention, it may become dangerous! It is generally a warning sign that your electricity is not flowing through your home as it should be, and there may be a few reasons why.

WHY DO WE EXPERIENCE ELECTRICAL SHOCKS OR TINGLES WITHIN THE HOME?

A bad earth connection or a poor neutral wire/neutral bond are the most common reasons why people experience electric shocks. For electricity to flow within your home to a light or to an appliance, a complete path (circuit) must be provided for it to return to the electricity supply. The active wire carries the electricity from the electricity supply, while the neutral wire returns the electricity to the electricity supply – so there are always at least two wires to each appliance. Many appliances these days have a green-yellow wire (earth wire) connected to it, in which the other end is connected to an earth stake. A current will always take the path of least resistance so if your earth connection is good then the current will flow freely down this path instead of flowing through you. An earth connection using an electrical earth stake is essential for the effective operation of safety switches.  

If you have received an electric shock when you have touched a tap, it may be because an active wire from an appliance is touching a metal pipe somewhere in your home and there is now electricity flowing through that pipe. If your earth wire is connected correctly, it should trip your safety switch or circuit breaker and remove any safety issues before you touch your tap. A fault in the earth connection means that the safety switch or circuit breaker cannot be activated and the pipe now becomes live. When you touch the tap, and your feet are on the ground, you complete the circuit, so electricity can flow through you and you experience the electric shock.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/10920520/The-devices-quietly-running-up-your-energy-bills.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/

I’VE BEEN SHOCKED! NOW WHAT?

Before jumping to any conclusions, there are some questions that you can ask yourself. Do you experience the sensation the whole time your hand is on the tap, or do you just get a small shock when you first touch it? Do you get a shock when the water is running, or only when it is not running? Does it happen in just one area of your home or from multiple locations throughout your home? Have your neighbours experienced the same thing?

Firstly you need to distinguish whether it is simply a static shock, or something more serious. Static shocks are experienced very suddenly and are of very short duration and once the shock is experienced, the item can then generally be safely touched without experiencing it again. Static electricity is an electrical charge trapped on the surface of an object. The charge will remain there until the object is touched and the electricity can escape to an object with a weaker electrical charge. However, while static shocks may not seem as serious as other types of electrical shocks, they are still a sign that your earth connection is not as it should be.

If the shock is a lot worse than a static shock, then the situation is quite serious. If you are left feeling burnt or are experiencing pain in that area, have experienced the shock more than once, are experiencing it multiple areas of your home, or are experiencing other electrical phenomena such as flickering lights or the sound of electricity zapping, then call your electrician immediately!

It may seem unimportant, but it is worth speaking to your neighbours. If they seem to be experiencing the same issues, then it may be a faulty transformer or connection outside of your home and the appropriate company will need to be called immediately. Generally, this is the emergency number that can be found on the bottom of your electricity bill.

http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/
http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/

There are many things to remember when it comes to experiencing shocks within your home.

FIRSTLY

The first is that it should never be ignored! As mentioned, it can often be a sign that there is something wrong with your electrical circuit within your home, and it needs to be fixed immediately before the situation worsens!

SECONDLY

The second is remembering what to do in the event that somebody becomes electrocuted. Call 000 first and NEVER touch them while there is still live power running through the home. Always check for danger to yourself, and switch off the power before touching them. Once the power has been shut down, remove the patient from the electrical supply without directly touching them – instead use a non-conductive, dry material such as a wooden broom handle.

Find the full Electric Shock procedure from St Johns Ambulance here.

If you are concerned about any electrical faults within your home, or feel as though you would like an electrical assessment, please don’t hesitate to call Green Efficient Living on (08) 8297 3422. We will do a thorough examination of your home to ensure that you and your family are safe.

 

Why Do We Choose Enphase Energy?

Image of technicians phone showing a solar monitoring system

Enphase

 

Green Efficient Living made it very clear at the inception of our company that we would only align ourselves with businesses who project the same values as us. These values focus on providing our customers with high quality and reliable products, impeccable customer service, a dedication to innovation and being strong advocates for reducing environmental impact.

This is why Green Efficient Living promote and install Enphase Energy products for our solar installations. Enphase is a company dedicated to pushing the boundaries of solar technology and are passionate about developing new technologies that make energy ‘more intelligent, more connected and cost effective’.

Enphase Microinverter
Enphase continually design and update their products to provide their customers with the very best.

They design and manufacture products for solar generation, energy storage and web-based monitoring and are currently the market leader in microinverter manufacturing and distribution. The company was founded in 2006 and since then has grown to become a global leader in solar energy technology. In 2008, they introduced the world’s first microinverter system and just three years later they hit the milestone of having shipped one million micro inverters worldwide.

Eight years on and they have begun operating in 21 countries across the globe, opened their own research and development facility in New Zealand (March 2016), and have shipped over 15 million microinverters worldwide. During this time, they have won awards such as ’14th Fastest Growing Company (2013)’, ‘Technology Pioneer (2013)’, and ‘#1 Residential Inverter Supplier’.

But it isn’t just their size or expertise that makes them the industry leader and Green Efficient Living‘s choice. It’s their dedication to providing the very best products and services for their customers. Their web-based monitoring software, MyEnlighten, allows for complete connection and communication between your solar PV system and your home via an app on your phone or tablet. It lets you track your energy production in real time and monitor your system’s health through a status indicator. It also allows your solar installer to monitor and track your system’s production to make sure that everything is running as it should be.

Enphase Energy MyEnlighten
MyEnlighten allows your solar installer to view your energy production.

Enphase also has an Australian head office, which can give you peace of mind knowing that if something was to go wrong, or if you have any questions as all, we can easily get in touch with somebody local and get you an answer straight away.

They have a passion for providing an alternative energy resource that reduces our environmental impact and are driven by a sense of responsibility towards our planet and communities. Their systems have already helped to offset almost 6 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide worldwide…yes, 6 TRILLION! And that number is continuously growing.

Consistent and rigorous quality testing means that their products are at a consistently high level and are reliable in all conditions and climates. All Enphase products undergo one million ‘power-on’ hours of accelerated, long-term reliability testing prior to their release. Our confidence their products extends far beyond our business, as we have installed them in our own homes as well! This way, our customers can be assured that their products and systems are there to last.

Green Efficient Living always have our customers in the forefront of our minds with every decision that we make, so it is imperative to us that we work with companies who see the same value in that. This is why we use Enphase microinverters.

If you are considering having a solar PV system installed, or to see the MyEnlighten app working in real time, come into our office and let us discuss how using Enphase micro inverters can work for you. Alternatively, you can contact us here!

Surge Protectors – Do You Have Them?

Working Safety Switch

Think about how many electrical appliances you have in your home that are almost permanently plugged into an outlet in your wall. Your home entertainment system, such as your stereo and television; your lighting; computer; phone charger; kitchen appliances, the list is endless. Did you know that in less than seconds these appliances can be destroyed if they aren’t protected when a power surge strikes? Did you even know that you could protect them? Surge Protection Devices/Surge Protectors (SPDs) are relatively cheap and easy to have installed, and they can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What is a power spike/surge?

Power spikes or power surges are increases in your home’s electrical current and occur when the voltage is boosted and suddenly increases. A power spike is a short increase in voltage, acting over a small amount of time and generally causes minimal damage. A power surge, however, is a much larger influx that lasts longer and can be much more detrimental.

The most common cause of power spikes/surges are impacts on the electrical grid near your home or office, such as downed power lines or transformers. When this happens the large amount of electricity that has suddenly been disrupted needs somewhere to go, and is therefore thrust into the power lines on the street and into your home or office.

While your devices may not want to accept this influx of energy, the current is so powerful that they have no choice. If your devices are not protected at this time, the increase of energy can be too much for your appliances and they can be destroyed. This can end up being a safety hazard and a large expense on your behalf.

Lightning storms are also a cause of power surges, however during this time you should not rely solely on your surge protectors. With the influx during this time being so large, the only guaranteed way to protect your appliances during a lightning storm is to unplug them from the wall directly.

How do surge protectors help?

There are a number of methods that surge protectors use to protect your appliances. No matter what method they use though, the general idea is the same. All surge protectors keep the voltage levels flowing to your appliances below the safety threshold.

The most common method of doing this is by absorbing a large portion of the over-voltage and diverting the rest back to earth. This way your appliances only receive the same amount of energy that they always have.

It is important to understand that not all surge protectors are the same. There are different classes of surge protectors to defend your appliances from different forms of current impulses.

Class 1

These surge protectors are suitable in high risk areas that have a high probability of direct lightning strikes and are to be used in conjunction with lightning rods. They employ the ‘spark gap’ method and are perfect for buildings that require a larger amount of protection. Buildings such as petrol stations, hospitals, banks, tc should all have a class 1 SPD installed.

Class 2

This is the most common and inexpensive form of power surge defence. These surge protectors can prevent the spread of over-voltage in the electrical installations and protect the equipment connected to it, such as home appliances and power tools. This is the one that home owners should be looking to have installed as a first line of defence against power surges that occur through downed power lines or transformers in the street. Just like class 1 SPDs, these are also installed in the main switchboard in your home.

Class 3

Class 3 surge protectors have a low discharge capacity and therefore must be installed as an addition to a class 2 SPD. They are to be installed at the terminal, as close as possible to the appliance being protected.

Hager Surge Protectors
Examples of surge protectors that may be used in your home.

The Fine Print

Always ensure that when having surge protectors installed that you always read the fine print. Some companies will offer warranties on your appliances if they are damaged whilst connected to their surge protectors. However, these warranties aren’t always applicable and may be voided for many reasons.

The Bottom Line

To summarise, a Class 1 SPD is to be used at the origin of the installation, a Class 2 SPD is to be installed at the switchboard, and a Class 3 SPD is to be used near the terminal equipment.

The bottom line is that purchasing a Surge Protection Device is never a bad idea. If your home doesn’t have one, the damage that can be caused to your appliances and yourself can be extensive. Home and business owners should be putting every practice into place to ensure that their appliances and buildings are protected from excessive currents and further damage.

For more information, or to have a Surge Protection Device installed, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422.

Colour Temperature – Warm White vs Cool White

Image displaying colour temperature

Have you ever changed a blown lightbulb and noticed that its replacement does not match the colour of light that it gives off? What once was a nice warm glow has now become a harsh white light and all of the sudden the room no longer has the same ambience and feeling. Or when your white lit, modern kitchen now has a yellow tone that doesn’t accurately highlight the area! It’s because there is a whole colour spectrum of lighting based on colour temperature.

It’s understanding this temperature that makes it easier to choose a light that will give off the look and feel that you want in your room. But why is it that some bulbs glow a bright white, while others emit a warm orange?

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