Do-It-Yourselfers, Make Safety and Efficiency a Top Priority
It is the time of year when many individuals are working on home improvements. While making a to-do-list, keep in mind that there are many federal tax incentives to include efficiency improvements during repairs and new construction. Before people start tackling do-it-yourself projects, Safe Electricity asks everyone to take precautions before starting renovations or construction projects, especially when working around electrical equipment and overhead power lines.
Simple actions like replacing standard light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) and sealing air leaks with weather stripping or caulk can produce substantial savings on your energy bill. You can also receive tax incentives for improvements such as replacing old windows with higher efficiency ones, and you’ll be helping the environment as well.
Safe Electricity recommends Do-It-Yourselfers keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you have the right tools and equipment for the job. Use only extension cords that are rated for outdoor use when working outside. Keep your work area tidy and don’t allow your power cords to tangle. Make sure outlets have ground fault protection. Use a portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) cord if your outdoor outlets don’t have GFCIs.
- Look up and around you. Be sure to lower your long equipment when you are moving it. Carry ladders and other long items horizontally whenever possible. Remember, aluminum ladders, as well as wooden ladders, can conduct electricity.
- Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from lines. Never trim trees near power lines— leave that to the professionals. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.
- Use heavy-duty, three-prong extension cords for tools with three-prong plugs. Never remove or bend back the third prong on extension cords. It is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of electrocution or shock.
- If your projects include digging, like building a deck or planting a tree, call your local underground utility locator before you begin. Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. This service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted, and can help you avoid serious injury.
- If it’s raining or the ground is wet, don’t use electric power yard tools. Never use electrical appliances or touch circuit breakers or fuses when you’re wet or standing in water. Keep electric equipment at least 10 feet from wet areas.
Make certain home electrical systems and wiring is adequate to support increased electric demands of new electric appliances, home additions or remodeling projects. Home electrical systems age and deteriorate over time which means they’re less efficient and more costly than newer systems. Replace worn and outdated wiring, and add enough outlets for appliances and electronics. Safe Electricity strongly recommends this NOT be a do-it-yourself project. Where electricity is concerned, it’s always best to consult a professional.