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.
Talk to your friends and family, share a Facebook or Instagram page or leave a positive review for others to see.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Effects of Natural Lighting vs Artificial Lighting
Light is emitted via two different sources – natural and artificial. The sun is the primary source of natural light, while light globes are the primary source of artificial light. There has long been an awareness about the effects that lighting has on the human body, and now science is alerting us to the vast impact that light has on our physiological, psychological and emotional wellbeing.
So `when choosing how to light your home or office, a lot of consideration needs to be put into it. To stay healthy, alert and productive, people need to have regular circadian rhythms and keep to a constant sleep/wake cycle as directed by our exposure to certain light wavelengths during the day.
How does light affect us?
There are two key hormones that are affected by light – the sleep hormone melatonin and the stress hormone cortisol. When waking up in the morning, it’s important that our bodies produce enough cortisol to promote alertness. Into the evening and towards sleep, people need to stop the production of cortisol and begin producing melatonin.
To do this, the body needs access to bright light with blue wavelengths in the first few hours of waking up. Brightness and intensity may be decreased throughout the day and by night, blue light must be eliminated and amber tones, increased. By the time we head towards sleep, we should eliminate light altogether.
Human’s have evolved to use the sun’s light to dictate their sleep/wake cycle, so correct lighting design for daily living and health is about mimicking sunlight. This means that careful attention must be paid to colour temperature and light intensity.
In fact, our reliance on light is so intense that during the darker months of winter, many people can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. As the mornings are much darker during the colder months, we do not experience as much intense blue-rich light in the mornings, affecting our cortisone levels. This can make us feel less alert and less vibrant, which can sometimes evolve into a depressive state.
There is some concern that the excessive use of smartphones and tablets in the late evenings can affect sleep quality because they emit substaintial amounts of blue/green light at the wavelengths that inhibit the release of melatonin, preventing us from becoming drowsy. Poor quality sleep has been linked with increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Blue light can have a major effect on your sleep.
Natural light is full spectrum, meaning that it contains all colours of the rainbow, as well as colours (wavelengths) that we cannot see, such as infrared and ultraviolet. Without all of these colours, our world around us would look a lot more dull, as we wouldnt be able to see skintones or textures, for example, in their full glory.
Natural light is also dynamic, meaning that the intensity and colours of light change with the time of the day, time of the year, weather and location.
Our mood, energy, metabolism, sleep and recovery all depends upon the daily cycles of natural light, since these changes synchronise our circadian rhythm and hormone cycles. When the sun is overhead, daylight is bright and rich in blue (which stimulates us), while at sunset, daylight softens and is dominated by red (which relaxes us). These changes are due to atmospheric filtering of sunlight, which changes with the angle of the sun. Humans, plants and animals depend on these daily and seasonal cycles of natural light for their health and wellness.
The benefits of natural light are extensive:
Day-light increases our productivity and comfort.
Access to natural light improves one’s circadian rhythms.
Working in daylight boosts mood and motivation leading to the work is done faster, creating more pleasure and essentially better results.
It creates a calmer indoor environment, reducing one’s stress.
Utilising natural light reduces reliance on electricity and therefore reducing electricity bills.
Studying in natural daylight reduces stress and has been shown to improve student performance.
Artificial light is used as the substitute when there is an insufficient amount of natural light, with a similar concept as natural light. Artificial light is composed of visible and invisible radiations like ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR).
Artificial light can come in a variety of different colours and intensities, depending on the environments mood.
The UV and IR radiations which artificial light sources hold aren’t harmful to the health of humans, as long as they aren’t situated at a close range or extremely intense. Think of it like this – the annual dose of UV from artificial light is equal to a one-week holiday in an overly sunny destination like the Sunshine Coast.
Although artificial light isn’t harmful most of the time, it has some aspects which can essentially create some health risks.
The blue light aspect of artificial light can have a deeming effect on one’s internal body clock, along with the hormonal system which can lead to overall health problems relating to sleep deprivation and stress. The body’s internal body clock runs on dark and light, and the different chemicals in the brain to let us know ‘when its time to get up and when its time to go to sleep’. These chemicals are then affected by the artificial light which is being used. The blue light in smart phones is the perfect example; when used in a dark room before sleeping, the production of melatonin is reduced, making us less sleepy and more likely to stay awake. If this is a reoccurring situation – sleep deprivation can quickly become a major health problem.
UV light is also a harmful ingredient in both sunlight and artificial light with excessive exposure. UV is what creates the tan on the outermost layer of the skin, but skin cancer can become a quick health problem if too many skin cells become harmed in the process. With tanning beds are a popular way to create this tan, the large amount of UV light which is used can have a major effect on one’s skin and even create eye damage.
Sun baking in tanning beds can cause skin cancer.
For more information on lighting, take a look at our other blogs which talk about lighting including; ‘Glare – Annoying or Harmful?’, ‘Colour Temperature – Warm White vs Cool White’, and ‘The Unfamiliar Role That Light is Playing in Our Lives’.
If you’re still unsure about how lighting can affect your life, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to discuss the different lighting options which we have to offer.
Over the years we’ve become accustomed to hearing the same questions relating to having a solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed. So, as we are dedicated to education and helping our customers as much as we can, we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to help you on your journey.
1. What is a grid-connected solar system?
A home without a solar system draws its energy from the electricity grid. A grid-connected solar system is a solar PV system that is connected to the electricity grid. Your household will consume the energy that is created from your solar system first, and if more is needed, it will draw the remaining electricity from the grid. It also allows your system to send power back out to the grid. If your household is not consuming the entire amount of energy that your system is creating, then that surplus is sent back out to the electricity grid. This surplus is measured and credited back onto your power bill. Depending on what state you live in and what electricity supplier you are with, this value will vary.
2. How much will my solar system cost me?
As an extremely broad question, the answer is dependent on a number of factors. The final price depends on what brand of system you choose, how many panels you have installed, whether you decide on a string inverter or microinverter and much more.
ALWAYS get multiple quotes to compare prices and remember that the most expensive quote doesn’t necessarily mean equate to the best system. In South Australia, on average a 5kW (kilowatt) system costs approximately $5,500 but there are some elements that will affect this price.
3. What size system do I need?
To answer this question, your system designer will need to understand your energy habits such as your daily usage amount, your energy usage patterns, your location, etc. From here, they will be able to offer you the correct sized system. While your installer should be able to offer you a rough estimate just by receiving your latest electricity bill, they should not be able to present you with an ACCURATE system size without first asking these questions.
4. How many solar panels will I need?
Once your installer determines the system size that your household requires, they will then look at what panels will best suit your system. Not all panels are created the same, or yield the same amount. So your installer should be working out which panels are most appropriate for your lifestyle and energy patterns. They will also need to look at elements such as your roof size and budget.
5. Will anything else affect the price of my system?
There are a few added elements that will affect the overall price of your system. Each solar PV system is tailored individually, so don’t assume that just because your family member has a 5kW system with X amount of panels on their home, means that you will pay the same price for the same system. Factors need to be taken into account such as additional labour costs for things like a double storey roof, panel mounting brackets to angle your panels correctly if your roof is flat and much more.
6. How much money will I save with my solar system?
Typically, it can take anywhere from four to six years for a system to pay itself off in South Australia. Payback times depend on a number of things such as your location, your energy consumption, daily usage patterns, how well you maintain your system, the size of your system and your feed-in tariff.
Ensuring that you have the correct sized system will speed up your payback times. Having a system that is large enough is important as it will not only cover your power consumption, but it will maximise your return on investment. But having a system that is too large will mean that you’re exporting a large surplus of energy back into the grid and as feed-in tariffs are no longer as high, you will be selling your power for less than your electricity rates. So it’s important to ensure that your system is correctly sized to maximise your return.
7. Is my roof right for solar?
Not every roof is suitable to have a solar system installed on it. Generally, there are six key factors that will determine the suitability of your system.
Orientation: While a north-facing roof is best for optimum production in South Australia, it has been proven that panels facing north.
Shade: Solar panels only produce maximum energy in full sunlight. If a part of a panel becomes
shaded, then the output level is reduced. It is therefore necessary that your roof does not experience any shade if possible. Vegetation and overgrown trees can easily be removed, but shade from chimneys or poles on the roof is much more difficult to work around. If there are certain ares of you roof that do experience shading during the day, then your installer may offer you a system with microinverters to avoid your output dropping too much.
Size: Your roof has to be large enough to have the space for the number of panels that you require. The minimum sized system that can be installed in Australia is a 1.5kW, which generally equates to 6 solar panels. If your roof is not large enough for 6 solar panels, then you may need to look at other options.
Age: The age of your roof will be an indication of its structural integrity. If you are in an older home and are unsure about whether your roof will be able to safely support a solar system then it is best to have an inspection done beforehand.
Pitch: Solar panels
generate maximum power when they are positioned perpendicular to the sun. Your installer will need to take the pitch of your roof into account when installing your panels at the optimal angle. If the pitch of your roof is too flat or too steep, then your installer will need to use mounting brackets to angle the panels correctly for maximum yield.
Material: While solar panels can generally be installed on any roof, there are some exceptions. Metal roofs are often the best to install a system on, while tile roofs can be quite fragile and generate an extra cost.
8. Does the temperature during the day affect production results? Does hotter weather equal greater energy production?
Many people believe that hotter weather produces more energy, however, it is much the opposite. The hotter the day, the less energy that your system will produce. This is because a solar system converts LIGHT into energy and not HEAT.
A solar panel has an optimal temperate range that is best for producing the greatest amount of energy. As the temperature rises out of this optimal range, the production efficiency begins to decrease. Excessive heat is therefore detrimental for a solar panel’s production. Instead, the days that you will find you produce the most energy are on sunny, cooler days.
9. Is there any maintenance involved in having a solar system on my roof?
Despite the rumours, solar panels are NOT self-cleaning. So, like any other appliance or installation around the home or office, we do ask that you occasionally inspect and perform a small amount of maintenance on it. You can find a copy of our maintenance manual here.
10. Do I need developmental approval to have a solar system installed?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to get council or planning approval when having a solar system installed, however, there are a few instances in which you may. If you live in a council strata development, then getting approval from the body corporate may be required, or if you live in a heritage listed home then you will need to get council approval. If you are unsure whether or not you should be receiving approval, you can ask your solar installer or local council for guidance.
11. Will I still be using energy from the grid?
Yes. Your solar system only generates energy when there is sunlight, and when this energy is generated it needs to be used immediately. At night time when there is no energy being produced, your system will draw energy from the electricity grid so that you can continue to use the appliances within your home. Should you have a battery system however, it can store energy produced by your system to use when your system is not generating power.
Solar systems are all individually tailored to ensure maximum power generation for your household. If you have any further questions, please do not hestitate to give us a call on (08) 8297 3422 today, to speak to one of our qualified installers.
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.
External influences include:
Animals chewing through wiring
Fallen tree limbs touching power lines.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
What Are The Benefits Of LEDs?
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.
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!
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).
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 wirecarries 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.
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.
There are many things to remember when it comes to experiencing shocks within your home.
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!
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.
What Is Solar Shading and How Can You Deal With It?
We all know by know that solar panels produce electricity from the sunlight. So it makes sense that when there is shade cast upon them, they produce less electricity. It would seem fairly obvious that the power output produced by the panels is reduced proportionally to the amount of area that is shaded – this isn’t true.
Most domestic solar systems include anywhere between 5-30 panels, and most of the time these panels are connected in a ‘string’. Smaller systems may only have one string while larger scale systems may have more. We find it easiest to explain a string of panels as a string of Christmas lights. Electricity flows from one bulb to the next, lighting up the entire string of lights. However, when one bulb blows, the whole string of lights fails. This is the same for a solar system connected in strong. Even if a small amount of shade falls on just one cell in the panel, the output of the whole string of panels is reduced for as long as the shadow remains. Instead, it is because when one panel fails, it begins to become an energy consumer, rather than an energy generator. The shaded panel begins to draw power from the other panels, who in turn are not producing their optimum or maximum output.
There are many different factors that can result in solar panel shading. Shade from overgrown vegetation (trees and plants), cloud cover, dirt, bird feces, etc. all cause an effect on overall power production. During the design and layout stage of having your solar system installed, your installer should have taken a look at your roof from above, using technology, and be taking into account many factors such as optimal sun direction. They should be designing your system to sit in a location where it is not shadowed for half of the day, e.g. behind a chimney or a tree.
Fortunately, while there aren’t many ways to completely eliminate solar shading, there are ways to manage it.
How To Manage Solar Shading
1. Regular cleaning of your panels
Cleaning your panels every three or so months ensures that they stay free of any on-surface shading that may occur. Running a hose from the top of your roof, directly down to wash away leaf litter and debris that can get caught on top of your panels. Using a squeegee or cloth to gently clean the more tough dirt and grime is fine, but scourers and high-pressure water cleaners are not.
2. Be aware of vegetation
Be aware of overgrown plants and trees that may cast a shadow on your panels. Make a point observing this every three months or so, to ensure that your panels remain in maximum sunlight for as long as they can. Also, remember to observe this at all times of the day, to see how they are affected as the sun moves.
3. Micro Inverters
Microinverters are just as the name suggests, however, they are much smaller and designed to sit underneath each individual panel. They perform the same function as a string inverter, however, they accept the output of that panel only, rather than a series of panels collectively. This maximises your total production output because if one panel fails, the others are not compromised.
They are slightly more expensive upfront, but as time goes on, the product price is dropping. Microinverters allow for an expansion of your system, so there are no restrictions when it comes to your system’s future and they are often labeled as the safer choice due to the minimised voltage running through them.
4. DC Optimisers
DC Optimisers are similar to microinverters in that they are also located on each individual panel. However, DC Optimisers, or power optimisers, are used in systems where a string inverter is involved. These DC Optimisers work with the string inverter to enable the maximum production from each panel individually, despite the fact that the panels are connected in a string. When a panel becomes shaded and its power output differs from the unshaded panels, the optimisers correct ‘mismatch’ of energy production between each panel by allowing it to function at its Maximum Power Point (MPP), and then converting that energy to the optimum voltage and current for the string inverter.
All of these factors should be looked at by your solar installer and they should be informing you of the best choice for your situation and requirements. Green Efficient Living solar installers use a number of programs to look at all of the factors required to provide you with a system that will work best for you.
To speak to one of our solar professionals today, call (08) 8297 3422 or fill out a request form on our contact page.