smart home technology

Save Money With Smart Home Technology

This blog will discuss how smart home technology can save you money and be a selling point if you are considering selling. You often judge a house by its looks. But guess what? Now you can also judge it by its IQ. Think smart thermostats, smart lighting, and app-controlled security systems. Smart home technology can up your relevance factor, make homes easier to operate, and save you money!

 A Home’s Technology Matter

Imagine this. You walk into your home and motion-activated lighting automatically turns on as you enter. A smart thermostat adjusts the temperature for ultimate comfort and savings once it senses you are back home. The window blinds are adjusted based on the sun’s direction. And the smart speaker is telling you about your home’s features. Impressive, right?

Four in 10 Americans have bought a smart home device since the COVID-19 outbreak and are more interested in smart home technology, according to a 2020 REALTOR.com study.

 Increasing Marketability with Smart Technology

Consumers between 18 and 34 said they would pay more for homes with home theaters, smart speakers in every room, and connected kitchens, according to the same REALTOR.com study. In the 25 to 54 age group, consumers said they’d pay more for generators and EV charging stations. And for those 55 and older, solar roof tiles, smart doorbells, and security systems would be worth extra money.

You can easily add smart home technology to modernize an older home and help it compete with newer ones. After all, many homebuilders offer smart home packages to outfit new homes with smart thermostats, app-controlled garage doors, smart lighting, door locks, and video security systems.

Smart home technology investments can range from $20 for adding smart lightbulbs to $20,000 or more for automated solutions that connect systems in one hub for an entire house. For $1,500, you can outfit your home with multiple systems like a smart speaker, smart lighting, and a smart thermostat to increase the home’s smart tech appeal. For about $5,500, homeowners could automate the lights, door locks, and thermostat, and install a smart speaker, hub, and smart plugs in three rooms.

Save On Your Energy Bills

The average home spends at least $2,000 annually on energy bills. By switching to energy-efficient appliances, equipment and lighting, that number can be cut by 1/3.

Smart thermostats are great for big savings. Close to half of a typical energy bill is spent on heating and cooling. Having a thermostat that knows your schedule, and adjusts the temperature when you’re home or away, is an easy way to save money. With Nest, for example, you can also check your energy usage and adjust the temperature remotely, from your smartphone.

Smart lights & lightbulbs are more energy efficient and can be set to timers and motion sensors. For example, when you enter a room, the lights can be programmed to detect your presence and turn on to greet you. And when you leave, the lights will automatically shut off. Using bulbs that are energy efficient and installing automatic dimmers, will also add help save money and energy.

Regardless of how extensive your devices are, using smart devices will save you real money but you must ensure your home’s electricity is equipped to handle additional devices.

That’s where we come in! We offer free assessments that will let you know what your electric system can handle. If you need an upgrade, no problem, we have you covered! We can also recommend and install many of these smart technologies.

High West Electric is based in Denver, CO, and serves the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.

Hiring an electrician

5 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring An Electrician?

Admit it, you tried a DIY project and it’s now time to wave the white flag and hire a professional. We get it, but there are 5 questions you should ask prior to hiring an electrician to complete your project.

1.What Is Their Experience Level?

Before hiring an electrician, be sure to ask about their experience. How long have they been in business? What kinds of projects do they typically work on? Are they more experienced with residential or commercial, and based on that response, do they have experience with the type of project you’re looking to have completed?

Asking about an electrician’s experience will help you gauge whether they’re the right person for the job. Make sure the electrician has the experience necessary to complete your project.

2. Are They Licensed?

It goes without saying but there are so many risks associated with hiring an unlicensed electrician to perform work on your home or business. Licensed electricians will have the proper training and knowledge to do the job right.

In addition, an insured electrician will have coverage in the case of injuries or damage that may occur while working on your project. They will also be up-to-date on the latest codes and safety standards.

3. How Much Will The Job Cost?

Get an estimate for the project to ensure it is within your budget. Most electricians offer estimates at no cost to you.

What is their hourly rate? How many hours do they think the job will take? Do they charge a flat rate or by the job? It’s important to ask these questions upfront so there are no surprises later on. We recommend getting at least three estimates from three different electricians before hiring someone for a job.

4. Do They Offer A Warranty?

Be sure to ask if they offer a warranty. This will ensure that you are protected if something goes wrong with the work they have done.

If their work is covered by a warranty, it tells you that they stand behind their quality of work. It also eliminates any stress of additional costs after the service. Be sure to ask about the length of the warranty or guarantee, as well as what it covers.

5. Do They Have Examples of Their Work?

This includes both the quality of their work and their customer service. Ask to see pictures, references, and reviews. With this information, you can get a great idea of the electrician’s quality of work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A professional electrician will take the time to listen to your concerns. And they will professionally address them.

High West Electric is based in Denver, CO, and serves the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.

watts and lumens

Watts Versus Lumens

We often get asked the difference between watts versus lumens. There have been some major changes in lighting in recent years due to the introduction of energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are becoming a thing of the past, as both their energy-hogging habits and their “wattage” rating become obsolete. In place of them are high-efficiency bulbs with a much more accurate “lumens” rating. This blog will help you understand the differences and navigate the changes.

Watts

A watt is a unit of power, measuring the amount of energy that is used over a period of time. When talking about bulbs, a watt measures how much electricity the bulb requires per second. This is not an indicator of how bright the bulb is, but the old-school incandescent bulbs are so similar that when we bought a 100-watt incandescent light bulb, we had a general idea of how bright it would be.

With newer types of bulbs, it takes far fewer watts to create just as much light, so wattage ratings are no longer very useful. Each type of bulb is different, and the whole idea is to develop bulbs that use fewer watts to make more light.

Lumens

Lumens determine how much light a bulb will provide. A lumen is the direct measurement of light output. The number of lumens can tell you the degree of brightness, regardless of whether it is emitted from an incandescent, halogen, or energy-efficient LED bulb.

One lumen is approximately equal to the amount of light put out by one birthday candle. To help you get an idea of the lumen scale, a standard 60-watt bulb puts out around 750-850 lumens of light. If you’re choosing bulbs for task lighting, look for bulbs with 1000 lumens or more. Under the new system, when shopping for a light bulb, you should first look for the bulbs that produce the number of lumens you need. Once you know the right brightness, you can then look at the lumens-per-watt rating to find the bulb that’s the most energy efficient. Note: lumens-per-watt rating is an average since light bulbs become less efficient over time.

Selecting The Brightness Of LED Lights

Until you’re more comfortable using lumens to gauge how much light a bulb will produce, use these guide:

40W = 450 lumens

60W = 800 lumens

75W = 1100 lumens

100W = 1600 lumens

150W = 2600 lumens

High West Electric is based in Denver, CO, and serves the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.

 

 

circuit breaker trip

What Causes Circuit Breakers to Trip

What causes circuit breakers to trip…a question we are asked regularly. Your circuit breaker has the important task of disrupting electricity to prevent shocks, fires, and other disasters—but sometimes it’s not clear as to what causes a circuit breaker to trip.

Circuit breakers protect your home’s electrical system by cutting off the flow of electricity to a circuit whenever problems occur. You might see a breaker trip if you have too many appliances or electronics plugged in, or there could be an electrical issue at hand. If you’re not sure why yours keeps tripping, here are a few common reasons to consider.

Possible Causes of a Circuit Breaker Tripping

There are many reasons why a circuit breaker trips, but the most common ones are circuit overloads, ground fault surges, and short circuits. Below is a breakdown of the signs and symptoms of each.

Circuit Overload

Circuit overloads are the most common reason that a breaker trips. Sometimes you want to microwave, blow-dry your hair and you finally convinced your kids to vacuum, all at the same time. Certain appliances can trip circuit breakers, so check out what you plugged in.

Your electrical wires have a finite capacity for electricity and can only handle a certain flow. When that load gets exceeded, your breaker will cut it off. This prevents the wires from heating to a dangerous level, potentially causing an electrical fire.

Ground Fault Surge

A ground fault is a specific type of fault where the flow of electricity goes astray and gets redirected to the floor or earth. This happens when a “hot” wire contacts a grounding wire, or any grounded part of the system (such as the metal electrical box). When your circuit breaker detects the sudden surge in electrical flow, this will cause the breaker to trip.

If there’s someone standing on the ground where the electricity gets directed, there’s a high risk of electric shock—especially if the ground is damp. This is also a common reason why your circuit breaker trips randomly. Should you suspect a ground fault, contact the professionals at High West Electric to investigate the issue.

Short Circuit

A short circuit happens when a hot or active electrical wire and a neutral wire touch, causing a large amount of current to flow and overload the circuit. A short circuit should always cause a breaker to trip or a fuse to blow and may also cause sparks, popping sounds, or smoke.

It can be caused by issues like loose connections, a slipped wire, or even from damage caused by animals (mice or squirrels) chewing on wires. A short circuit can also be caused by a faulty electrical switch, receptacle, fixture, appliance, plug, or cord.

Do not try to trace the short circuit yourself. Short circuits can be dangerous due to the high temperatures from the current flow which can pose a fire hazard, if you think your home has an issue seek our professional assistance, especially if you can’t find the source.

How to Fix the Problem

Keep in mind that circuit breakers and fuses are safety devices for our protection when electrical malfunctions occur. Although, it may be frustrating when a circuit breaker trips or when a fuse blows, this action has served to protect us and our property. When troubleshooting or dealing with home electrical repairs, always take safety very seriously and never attempt to inspect or repair anything that you aren’t certain is safe.

If you suspect you have a faulty circuit breaker or need additional outlets installed contact a qualified electrician.  High West Electric is based in Denver, CO, and serves the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.

whole house fan

Benefits of a Whole House Fan

There are many benefits of a whole house fan; energy savings, fresher air, and easy installation to name a few. A whole house fan combined with ceiling fans and other circulating fans provide acceptable summer comfort for many families, eliminating or significantly reducing the need for air conditioning.

How Whole House Fans Work

A whole house fan is installed in the ceiling of the upper level of a home, so it is connected to the attic. A central location and good ventilation are all crucial to the successful operation of this system The whole house fan pulls air in from open windows and exhausts it through the attic and roof. It provides good attic ventilation in addition to whole house cooling. Whole house fans should provide houses with 3 to 6 air changes per hour and should only be installed by a professional to determine what is appropriate for your home.

 

Benefits of a Whole House Fan

Energy Savings

When using a modern whole house fan, most homeowners see their energy bill drop 50 to 90 percent. This is primarily due to the lower operating cost of the fan compared to an air conditioning unit.  Other home cooling systems can cost up to $5.00 to run each hour depending on the size of your home. Whole house fans operate for pennies per hour, offering an almost immediate return on investment!

Easy Installation

The cost of the fan itself is 10 times cheaper than a central air conditioning unit, not to mention the cost of the ductwork and installation labor and can be installed in less than a day. Whole house fans should only be installed by a professional to determine proper installation and size.

Fresher Air

Stagnant air is a breeding ground for viruses, germs, and other pollutants. Because a whole house fan draws in air through your home and then lets it out through the attic, your indoor air is considerably fresher. This helps combat viral spread, removes, and prevents odors, and provides excellent ventilation all around the house.

Extend The Life of Your AC

Just because you have central air conditioning does not mean you  can’t reap the benefits of a whole house fan A whole house fan, with proper home ventilation, can extend the lifespan of your air conditioning unit by reducing the strain of extended use. Running your AC less often means more cost savings too!

 

A whole house fan requires a qualified electrician.  High West Electric are expert whole house fan installers and are based in Denver, CO serving the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.

11 Tips to Lower Your Electricity Bill

electrician dangerous

Is Being an Electrician Dangerous?

Every job carries a little bit of danger, but some are worse than others. Because electricians work with high-voltage electricity that can harm or kill you, people assume that working as an electrician can be risky.

 

Let’s discuss if it’s dangerous to be an electrician.

 

Working as an electrician does come with its own set of risks. Common injuries for electricians include electrical shocks, falls, burns, and other minor injuries. A study done in 2017 showed that there were 8.4 deaths per 100,000 electricians for that year. For the same year, there were 15.9 deaths per 100,000 for groundskeepers, 24 deaths per 100,000 for farmers, and 34.9 deaths per 100,000 for garbage collectors.

 

Even though being an electrician isn’t a particularly hazardous job, there are some common accidents that occur. Because electricians need to perform work on rooftops or reach power lines, falling is one of the most common accidents for electricians.

 

While not as common, electrical shock and electrocution are two of the most serious injuries that can occur in this profession. Electrical shock happens when a sudden discharge of electricity runs through a part of the body. Complications can include severe burns, trouble breathing, and interrupted heart rhythm. The most severe cases of electrical shock are called electrocution, and they result in death.

 

Even though dealing with electricity is inherently treacherous, being an electrician doesn’t have to be. Over the years, being an electrician has become much safer than it used to be because of increased job safety and proper safety precautions. As long as appropriate safety precautions are observed, being an electrician isn’t any more dangerous than other professions. Jobs in the electrical industry are always in high demand across the country. So, if this article didn’t scare you away from the profession, maybe consider the profession.

 

If you are interested in learning more about a career as an electrician, please check out the Independent Electrical Contractors of the Rocky Mountains’ apprentice program: https://iecrm.org/faqs/

 

Three Things to Look for when Hiring an Electrician in Colorado

It’s possible to do a lot of home repairs on your own. However, when it comes to electrical work, it’s better to hire someone instead. Electrical work can be dangerous if you do not know what you’re doing, and if you do the job incorrectly, you can cause a fire or create health hazards.

Here are three things to look for when you hire an electrician.

 

THREE things to look for when hiring an electrician in Colorado

 

  1. Licensing and insurance. The most important factor to consider when choosing an electrician is whether they are licensed and insured. The licenses are guarantee that your contractor knows what they’re doing and is well-versed in job safety. Insurance is important as well, just in case anything goes wrong. When checking the license and insurance, make sure both are up-to-date and have not expired.
  2. Being Selective. Next, not all electricians are the same. Some electricians will have expertise in specific areas, and some even have accreditation. If you select a master electrician, you will be guaranteed that they have at least three years of experience and a 12-month warranty on the work they do for you.
  3. Monetary value. Finally, you want to make sure that you get a good price for the work to be completed. When you start shopping around for electricians, it’s important to get quotes from at least three companies. When getting a quote, you should express exactly what the job entails, including the fittings and materials you would like to use. This makes it easy to compare quotes from different electricians, but you should never pick an electrician based on price alone.

 

Many home improvements can be done yourself, but it’s better to have a professional electrician do it for you when it comes to electrical work. When hiring an electrician, it’s important to look for their license and insurance, check their experience, and shop around for different quotes. If you are in the Colorado area, High West Electric can assist you with both residential and commercial electrical needs.

electrician denver, co

How to Avoid Overloaded Outlets

If you have ever had to switch the circuit breakers to restore power after your electricity shuts off you due to overloaded outlets you may be asking yourself, “how many watts can a standard outlet handle?”

Living in a space with a limited number of outlets can force you to make some difficult choices. You might need to have the hairdryer plugged in, but you also need the electric razor, iron and space heater going, too. Your outlets can only handle a certain number of watts as well as the circuit breaker its associated with.

 You’re Not Overloading An Outlet, You’re Overloading A Circuit.

First, it’s important to understand that each circuit usually supplies power to several outlets and lights.  For example, Circuit A might supply power to the four outlets in the master bedroom plus a ceiling light, Circuit B might supply all power to the kitchen, etc.  Each circuit is controlled by a breaker or a fuse.  So if you lose electricity you don’t overload an individual outlet, you overload an entire circuit.

A breaker will automatically shut off power when there’s an overload. It’s designed to work as a safety device. Not having a breaker on your circuit can result in electrical hazards. 20-amp breakers must only handle up to 80% of their amperage rating. An amp rating means the most amount of current the circuit can safely handle.

 How Much Can a Single Outlet Handle?

The typical American wall outlet can handle a maximum of 15 Amps, or 15 amps * 120 Volts = 1800 watts. However, the National Electric Code (NEC) says that no more than 80% of that should be used if continuous power is used, i.e, and toaster, hair dryer, lamp, etc.

That means any single device or a combination of devices plugged into any and all of the outlets (or hardwired devices) wired to the same circuit breaker, should never require over 1440 watts (or 12 amps) for a 15 amp outlet. Using an extension cord does not preclude this rule.

 Safety First

Aside from the inconvenience it causes, overloading an outlet can pose several safety risks. Consider these points before overloading an outlet:

  1. Overloaded outlets can cause fires — an estimated 5,300 annually in American households [source: CPSC].
  2. Overloaded circuits or outlets can cause burned out wires, damaged appliances and even electric shocks.
  3. Only use products backed by The Consumer Product Safety Commission The CPSC tests products and finds that many counterfeit products can’t stand up to even the most basic safety testing.
  4. Electrical devices that are built to put out heat, like space heaters and hair dryers, tend to use more power than other devices.
  5. Faulty circuit breakers can cause unnecessary overloads leading to fires and other damage in the house.

If you suspect you have a faulty circuit breaker or need additional outlets installed contact a qualified electrician.  High West Electric is based in Denver, CO and serves the entire metro area. Our customer service-based approach ensures that each client enjoys the process from installation to the end product – no matter the size of the job. Our goal is to be YOUR electrician and offer an experience that goes Beyond the Wires. We offer free estimates. Visit our website to learn more.

home electric vehicle charging station

Home Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Unlike a gasoline-fueled car, one major perk of an electric vehicle is that you can plug it in to a home electric vehicle charging stations or at an EV charging station on the go.

This blog will provide answers to what is admittedly a very different infrastructure for electric cars than what you are used to with gas cars. Once you work out the basics electric cars are a cinch to charge.

What You Need To Know About Home Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The most convenient places to charge your electric vehicle is where it will be parked most often: home and work.

There are three different levels of charging power available for electric vehicles: Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging.

Level 1 Charging: Level 1 charging stations operate on a 120-volt AC system. The same power as a standard household electrical outlet. Level 1 chargers take about 8 hours or more to fully charge a drained EV battery. You will commonly find them in homes.

Level 2 Charging: Level 2 charging stations are the most common chargers. They operate on a 240-volt AC system and charging a drained battery can take as little as two or three hours. Even just one hour of charging can replenish a significant amount of battery. Level 2 chargers tend to be the best popular for restaurants, retail shops, employee parking, hospitals and schools, and apartment buildings.

Direct Current Fast Charging: A third class of EV chargers is known as DC fast charging. These use DC power and can fully charge a battery in under an hour. They are very expensive and require stricter safety measures. Also, older electric vehicles aren’t compatible with them, whereas virtually any EV can plug into a Level 1 or Level 2 charger.

 Home Electric Vehicle Charging Station

At home, you’ll want a Level 2 charger, which requires 240-volt power and you’ll want it located reasonably close to the car. This needs to be installed by a qualified electrician.

The 240-volt electricity is generally easy to add to a garage. The plug needed for a charger is the same as an electric clothes dryer. While there obviously is an expense to have one installed by a qualified electrician, the state and federal rebates for owning an electric vehicle can be significant. Xcel Energy offers a home electric vehicle charging station rebate as well.

The car charger plugs into your 240-volt outlet and features a cable that plugs into your car. Longer cables are available for most chargers for drivers who need the charger inside a garage but must park outside.

An electric vehicle charging station requires a licensed electrician. High West Electric has extensive experience with installing home electric vehicle charging stations. We can help you choose the best option and educate you on all the incentives and rebates available once installed. At High West Electric we help homeowners and businesses tackle electrical projects and issues to create safe, efficient and comfortable spaces. We go beyond the wires to professionally assess electrical systems, troubleshoot issues, and deliver safe, smart solutions. Contact us today for a free estimate on a home electric vehicle charging station.