Best Strategic Places to Install Outlets

If you walk into the average home, you’ll find outlets scattered around the room near the baseboards. Sure, they get the job done, but placing outlets in this way isn’t very convenient.

Why are outlets installed this way? Well, contractors will install outlets only where they need to in order to pass the safety inspection. Minimizing outlets also helps them save money. Outlets aren’t installed with the homeowner in mind, but you’re the one who’s going to be stuck with those outlets for years!

Having many strategically located outlets is important because it allows you to live life your way. Their placement doesn’t have to mess with the aesthetic beauty of your home either!

Here are some of the best places to put outlets that will make living your life much more convenient.

  1. Outlets above shelves and tables

Many people put their phones, laptops, and tablets on a shelf or table when they are at home. Why not charge those devices while they’re sitting there?

Entry outlets placed above shelves or tables make convenient charging points, ensuring you never leave home with an uncharged device.

  1. Floor outlets

Ever walk into a room and see wires crisscrossing the floor? These wires destroy the aesthetic appeal of the room, in addition to causing a tripping hazard. Floor outlets can solve this problem.

Install a few extra outlets near the floor and eliminate the need for extension cords. You can even consider installing outlets directly in the floor, to further reduce tripping hazards.

  1. Wall-mounted outlets

Wall-mounted TVs are common in many homes today, which means unsightly cords drooping down the wall to the outlet. You can eliminate the need for such cords by installing a wall-mounted outlet that specifically caters to your TV.

Your TV area will remain clean and uncluttered because you can also use the conduit hidden in the wall to connect your TV to other electronic devices, like DVD players and gaming systems.

  1. Bathroom outlets

From electric razors to hair dryers and straighteners, you can find a lot of electronics in the bathroom. The trouble is, the bathroom can be humid and wet, so paying special attention to bathroom outlets is important.

It is convenient and safe to have specific outlets dedicated to each item. For example, you can have outlets on both sides of your sink so that two people can use electric devices at once without an extension cord.

  1. Outlets for the kitchen

Homebuilders will always have outlets ready for large kitchen appliances, but you might have to install outlets for small appliances on the kitchen counter.

You can have countertop outlets powering toasters, teapots, and blenders. You can also dedicate other strategically placed outlets to power laptops, phones, and TVs. Outlets can be installed on walls, under kitchen cabinets, and directly on the counter, depending on the placement that works best for you.

  1. Outlets for your office at home

Computers and tablets and printers, oh my! Home offices sure do have a huge number of electronics!

These devices run simultaneously, which means extension cords and power strips are common. Unfortunately, these cords are inconvenient, they make an office look messy, and they can even be dangerous.

Instead, place outlets above the desk in your office to eliminate the mess of cords on the floor. Install as many outlets as you need to make sure that every electronic device in your office has its own dedicated outlet and you can avoid the power strips and extension cords altogether.

If you’re looking for a few extra outlets in your home that will make living life easier, call Penna Electric. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will get your electrical work done right the first time, every time.

Circuit Protection: Too Important to be an Afterthought

Today’s electronics are getting prettier, smaller, and faster, creating a challenge for electricians and customers who are compelled to fit everything into a smaller electronic environment. When you add circuit protection to this small design, the story gets more complicated for those looking to safeguard their electronics, appliances, etc.

The problem of over-current and over-voltage is still an afterthought for most people. However, a simple contact between your nylon shirt and the computer can result in a crash due to electrostatic discharge.

The same level of protection you give to a multi-million-dollar substation is also required to protect your little sub-circuit. It is crucial to protect the tiniest circuits to make them safe for users. Protecting your circuits is imperative since it gives any electrical installation a long life in addition to keeping you safe from electrical shock due to over-voltage.

Just like Murphy’s Law states, anything bad that can happen will happen. If your circuit is designed with faults or without protection, problems are bound to happen either within the system or from an outside source. Circuit protection mainly aims to safeguard against loss of functionality while minimally or not affecting the core functionality of the circuit system. This protection covers three key areas: variations in the mains voltage, protecting against high voltage and lightning, and protecting against electrostatic discharge.

Causes of Problems:

  1. Internal Problems: short-circuit, which causes over-current or a current overload, and transient voltage spikes causing over-voltage. These events can negatively impact the sensitive circuits resulting in damage or loss of function if not handled in time.
  2. External Problems: can be caused by lightning interference, which can induce electrical surges inside the electronics; this surge can travel from the outer conductors on the grid to the electronics in the home.

In short, circuit protection is there to protect your electronics, appliances and more. If you want things up and running and have very little chance for down time don’t ignore the need for circuit protection. At Penna Electric we are able to service circuit breakers, upgrades along with a full range of other servics for our customers to make sure they are safe and happy.

If you are in need of any type of electrical repairs or installation, call Penna Electric. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will get your electrical work done right the first time every time.

Lighting the Way: Scientists Develop Solar-Powered Cement to Light Up Roads and Save Electricity

A lot of energy is consumed on a daily basis for both public and private purposes. Currently, many people are looking for renewable energy sources to save non-renewable sources and reduce the cost of energy. The governments of almost every country are supporting these steps and inspiring people to opt for renewable energy whenever possible because of the money it saves and the environmental campaigns it supports.

In recent decades, people from all over the world have started using solar energy for many different purposes. But now, a new and exciting way has emerged for solar energy to be used for the public interest: solar-powered, fluorescent roads.

Lighting for roadways might seem basic and simple. In reality, though, it requires a huge amount of energy. Streetlamps demand a lot of electricity, and that energy racks up heavy costs on a daily basis. To manage this situation, scientists at the Michoacán’s University of the San Nicolas Hidalgo in Mexico have suggested a revolutionary solution that will not only reduce the energy cost, but also save electricity by using renewable resources.

So what’s the plan?

Renewable energy is not new. We have been using solar energy to save electricity for quite some time. The Michoacán’s researchers have gone a step further. They have created a light-emitting cement to save energy. This solar-powered cement will absorb solar energy throughout the day, and this solar energy will be released in the darkness of the night, reducing or eliminating the need for electric lighting. In this way, roads, vehicles, bicycle lanes, and highways can all be lit naturally.

The project took nine years to show a result. Dr. Rubio, one of the scientists involved in this project, sought to engineer a variety of cements that would allow light to be absorbed. Cement contains crystals that make it opaque; if they could remove those crystals, they could be on their way.

Rubio’s team tried to modify the microstructure of the cement to get rid of these opaque crystals to get a complete gel substance. If they are able to produce the gel substance on its own, it will absorb solar energy during the daytime and release the energy in the darkness of night for up to 12 hours. Currently, solar-powered cement can emit only green or blue light.

What they developed starts out, like regular cement, as a dust-like concoction that dissolves in water. When mixed with water, the solar-powered cement takes on the consistency of hair gel, and, when it dries, it is much stronger and resilient.

Most fluorescent materials are currently used in plastic, and these plastics can last for about three years. But the new cement these researchers invented can stay useful for up to a hundred years. In addition, the intensity of the light can be controlled to make the driving easy for travelers.

The solar-powered cement produced by Rubio and his team is ecologically sound as it is made of clay, dust, and sand. The team has received a lot of appreciation and worldwide recognition for this new invention, which provides another step in the progress of renewable energy.

If you are in need of any type of electrical repairs or installation, call Penna Electric. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will get your electrical work done right the first time every time.

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of Pim Hendriksen

Green Inspiration for the Jet Set: The World’s First Solar-Powered Airport

As the world moves slowly toward switching to solar power, Cochin International Airport in the southern part of India has taken a huge leap forward. With 46,150 solar panels spread over a whopping 45 acres, the 4th busiest airport in the country in terms of international passenger traffic takes its place as the world’s first solar-powered airport.

The airport has been running entirely on solar power since August, 2015, and has since become an inspiration to many agencies around the world aspiring to harness the power of the sun.

Reasons Behind Switching to Solar

The power needed to serve the three terminals of the Cochin International airport was huge. On average, the airport consumed more than 48,000 units of power, resulting in a hefty electricity bill of $5,160 daily. The airport authorities found this to be a huge waste of money, and that is when they made a deal with German firm Bosch. The company installed solar panels in the nearby wastelands to cater to the airport’s power needs.

The project kicked off three years ago with the installation of a handful (400) of solar panels on the roof of the arrival terminal and then around a hangar. Seeing the success of this pilot project, officials decided to go independent of the electricity grid, and that is when the world found its first 100% solar-powered airport in Cochin, India.

How Is It Fairing Now?

After switching to 100% solar in August, 2015, the airport has not paid a single rupee on an electricity bill. As a matter of fact, it is earning good revenues from the electricity that is generated from the plant. The airport does not need all of the 50,000 units of power generated daily by the solar plant, so it is selling off the extra power to the local electricity distribution facility, Kerala State Electricity Board.

With the annual savings on electricity bills and the earnings from the electricity surplus, the airport authority (CIAL) is expecting to recover the full investment ($9.3 million) in only 5 years. However, there is roadblock to that goal.

With the new international wing coming up shortly, the power requirements of the airport will increase manifold. The existing power generated by the 13.1 MW solar power station will not only be eaten up but will fall short. Although the airport has earned the title of the first airport in the world to be 100% solar-powered, to continue to be powered entirely by the energy of the sun, it would need to upscale its power-generation abilities.

Therefore, the authorities are planning to extend the solar plant and add more solar panels. Another 10,000 solar panels will be commissioned, which will increase the power generation to 2.4 MW. In addition to this, more panels are set to be installed in and around the airport to take the total capacity of the solar plant to 26.5 MW.

Impact On The Environment

The longevity of the solar panels at Cochin airport will be about 25 years. During this time, the power generated will prevent 3,000,000 tons of carbon emissions caused by coal-powered plants over a similar time frame. This much energy has the equivalent effect to planting as many as 3 million trees or doing away with 750 million miles driving by car.

Impact On Other Airports

Inspired by the pioneer efforts of Cochin International Airport, many other Indian airports are gearing up to go solar. Already, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata has planned a similar solar plant spread over 70 acres within airport boundaries, which will meet the total power requirement (15MW) of the 5th busiest airport in India in terms of aircraft movement.

The civil aviation ministry of India has also appreciated this mammoth project undertaken by CIAL and has instructed other major airports to follow suit. The project has received international attention as well. Representatives from Liberia and George Airport of South Africa have checked the feasibility of similar solar projects.

This trend toward solar energy by these major energy-consuming entities hints at a hopeful future for clean energy in the years to come.

The Costly Consequences of a Phantom Load

From a utility standpoint, one of the most wasteful consumer habits is leaving electrical appliances plugged in on standby. Often left drawing energy from the house’s power grid for the sake of convenience, appliances like televisions and laptops can drain just as much power while switched off and plugged in compared to when in use. Numerous tests and statistics indicate that a large chunk of electrical use in both private and industrial settings is completely wasted during inactivity. The power consumed when appliances are on standby is often referred to as phantom load, vampire power, or, in less mythic terms, standby power, all of which are referring to a problem easily prevented with good management habits.

Specifically, phantom load alone accounts for about a quarter of power consumed in private homes according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. When taking into account specific electric rates in sectioned areas, the total running cost amounts to $19 billion dollars in the United States. Consequences from phantom load reach further than just the electricity bill, however. With a large percentage of produced electricity being wasted each day, carbon dioxide emissions and other environmentally destructive effects of electrical generation continue to strain the planet needlessly, as a fraction of this production can be either put to better use or stopped completely.

As a rule of thumb, any electrical appliance connected to an external power source will consume power even when switched off. A widespread example of this includes any cell phone charger. Best practice calls for consumers to always unplug their chargers when not in use, but the habit of leaving them plugged into the outlet is a hard one to shake off. On average, a cellphone charger left in the outlet with no cellphone at the end of it will consume 1 watt of electricity per hour. If there is a fully charged phone connected to the charger, the consumption rate spikes to 4.5 watts per hour.

Another good example of draining devices include any appliance sporting an LED or LCD display. This includes microwaves, televisions, DVD players, and sound systems. Similar to how these displays never really turn off, electrical devices that fall into standby mode as opposed to switching off are the most problematic in terms of phantom load. Cable boxes and televisions that sink into standby mode are common culprits, eating up electricity in the background while nobody is watching. Though leaving the television on standby allows for it to boot up faster, the power costs associated with it are rarely worth the seconds saved. A television box with rear projection consumes 48.5 watts per hour. Computers are also common culprits, being major power drains on stand-by to supplement data retrieval and the motherboard.

The following is a list of electrical devices and the average watts they consume on an hourly basis. These figures are all according to a study done by the Energy Center of Wisconsin:

Watts Electronic Device
5.6 Treadmill
4.3 Printer
4.2 Tool charger
2.6 Battery charger
1.3 TV and CRT
2.4 Desktop
1.2 Monitor
1.5 Modem
0.7 Laptop

If the consequences of phantom load have you fearing for your bank account, look below for a comprehensive list of tips to minimize phantom load:

  • Unplug all appliances that are not in frequent use, making sure to disconnect the power after the time when you do use them.
  • Use a power strip to make switching off the power more convenient.
  • Take your time while shopping to only acquire appliances with low standby.
  • Utilize Smart Grid and Smart Meter technology to keep better tabs on your home’s power consumption.

If you are in need of any type of electrical repairs or installation, call Penna Electric. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will get your electrical work done right the first time every time.

What Every Smart Home Owner Should Know

A seamless hub of connected smart devices on a home network can prove challenging to set up for those wanting to take advantage of recent appliance technologies. Devices functioning on separate platforms pose a problem, as there are no straightforward methods without third-party programs that easily connect home devices such as LIFX bulbs to thermostat platforms like Honeywell. However, with IFTTT, a free web-based applet connection service, construction of complex device networks becomes a simple task. From within the IFTTT service itself, there are many ways to make cross-platform connections work. In addition to making set-up simpler, there are several pre-built features that provide useful behaviors for smart home devices without needing to use multiple software platforms.

Here are a few IFTTT features that you can consider for your own home.

Social Notifications

To many people using IFTTT connectivity, the social notifications feature is perhaps the most interesting. Homeowners may tune colored smart lights to change any time their social media outlets receive a message, notification, or tag, whether it be from Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Social notifications don’t stop with just social media, however; lights can be set to indicate emails as well, utilizing color codes to represent any email notification from a particular email address.

Safety is another feature of light-based notification. With remote control capabilities on any equipment as long as it has a smart home connection, specific security devices such as anti-trespassing alarms or fire alarms can link up to mobile devices and provide instant notification in the event of possible danger. In addition, Nest Protect has an intelligent notifications feature that can notify homeowners of carbon monoxide or fire smoke in the house, and, if paired with IFTTT, it is possible to have visual alarm and particular color lighting to notify people of danger inside the home. Lights will flash red in the event of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Homeowners can also rely on smart lights to convey changes in the weather at a glance. For example, IFTTT makes it possible for a different color to appear for each instance of inclement weather, such as when there is rain, snow, hail, or when there is a temperature rise or fall from a pre-set threshold.

Smart Thermostats

A smart thermostat provides energy efficiency for any home, increasing in savings as the location’s range of temperature increases. Locations where weather is especially dynamic can pose a problem for energy efficiency, especially when utilizing conventional thermostats. A conventional thermostat always attempts to maintain a specific temperature in the house, even if no one is currently inside. However, IFTTT makes it possible to connect any brand of thermostat (ThermoStat, Tado, Honeywell, Nest or Netatmo) to automatically program a given pre-set temperature depending on time, temperature, and whether or not someone is in the house. Of course, the usefulness of this feature depends on many factors, such as if the house has good heat insulation. To better gauge the best options, contact a utility professional for specifications.

Light Control

In similar fashion to smart thermostats, lights can be switched on and off automatically, depending on specific triggers in the house, such as activating the living-room lights if the garage door is opened or if the front door is unlocked, and switching them off when closed. With recent advances in technology, triggers from a car can turn off all lights inside the home anytime the engine starts. In addition, lights can be manually switched on or off using mobile-device apps, allowing for further control. If security is a concern, the IFTTT Day and Time channel can simulate light scheduling that makes the house seem like there is somebody inside.

If homeowners struggle with waking up in the morning, bedroom lights can flicker to provide a quick rousing. Linked to a morning alarm, software such as Jawbone Up, Fitbit or Misfit fitness tracker can work with IFTTT to cause smart lights to flicker in the morning, making the room seem like a blinker exhibit in a haunted house until the alarm is shut off.

For those working long hours at home, lights can be set to fade depending on hours through the night. The approach can serve as a suitable reminder of work progress or as an indicator that the day is done.

Receive Notifications Any Time Motion is Detected at Your Home

Nest is capable of detecting motion, providing a reliable means of knowing when someone entered the house and where. IFTTT allows call, text or push notification so that homeowners can deal with any unexpected entrance. Android platforms can also send notifications to neighbors when homeowners are out of town.

If you are planning to have your smart home devices connected to one single platform, going with IFTTT is a sound decision. Though it is not suitable for all home scenarios, it can help reduce some management and connectivity problems by making it possible to connect smart home devices that are specifically not designed to pair and work together. IFTTT currently supports 69 home-based smart devices, and more additions are taking place as the service expands its compatibility, making smart homes easier to set up than ever.
If you are in need of any type of electrical repairs or installation, call Penna Electric. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will get your electrical work done right the first time every time.

Electric Cars to Make Noise By September, 2019

Since their introduction, electric cars have been popular alternatives to standard gasoline-based automobiles due to their numerous advantages. Their electric-based engines propel the vehicle without burning any fuel, saving tremendously on upkeep. In addition, electric vehicles are far quieter than their conventional counterparts. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority may introduce a law requiring electric cars to make noise when moving. The law is vague on what exact methods auto manufacturers will use to cause this noise in electric or hybrid car models, whether implemented through the engine itself or an additive sound alert system. As a result of the ambiguity, manufacturers have full discretion on how exactly they’ll put in the noise-making bells and whistles.

US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Fox, says that louder electric and hybrid cars on the road play an integral role in reducing risks of a possible car crash. If the new bill passes, electric and hybrid vehicles must satisfy a 10,000 pounds or less weight limit so that they can make audible noises when moving forward or reverse at speeds of 19 mph or less. For speeds exceeding 19 mph, the NHTSA says that noise alert is not needed as other factors such as the tire and wind noises can provide the adequate auditory warning to pedestrians.

This mandate has been issued in combination with the Pedestrian Safety Law, signed into law by President Obama in 2010. Auto manufacturers have until 1st September 2019 to implement noisier electric car models. However, half of electric and hybrid cars must comply a year before the deadline to insure that the requirements are met. The noise-making addition makes it possible for pedestrians to detect the presence of electric cars much quicker than if the vehicle is silent, and the American Council of the Blind has praised the decision, with noisier electric vehicles playing a part in making the streets safer for the visually-impaired and cyclists alike.

Some auto manufacturers have already taken steps in increasing the noise of their electric car models, but not specifically as a result of an interest in protecting pedestrians or passengers. For instance, Porsche has been working to make its Mission E electric sports Sedan to have some noise. But, the motivation behind their design change was to satisfy customer expectation of an engine growl upon ignition. Other manufacturers like McLaren and Fiat Chrysler also plan to fit their models with artificial auto engine noises, for various reasons.

If you are in need of any type of electrical repairs or installation, call Penna Electric. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will get your electrical work done right the first time every time.

Why Should An Electronic Vehicle Be On Your Gift List This Holiday Season?

The holiday season is here, giving opportunity to pause your life as you know it, bid goodbye to your everyday worries and re-unite with your loved ones. With friends and family coming together for the festive season, some meeting for the first time after many months, it is the perfect time to revive old memories and strengthen bonds. Of course, the holidays become that much sweeter with gifts, whether thoughtful, sweet, practical, or helpful, but sometimes figuring out what to get is a challenge on its own.

Consider giving a gift that’s useful, long lasting, and practical to someone close to you who really deserves a little spoiling. Maybe, you’re interested in buying a gleaming car for your niece, or a much-needed replacement car for a friend with a long commute to work in a clunker that eats through a gallon every ten miles. If that’s the case, consider electric cars.

Electric cars are one of the most talked-about technological innovations, being a big hit amongst environmentally conscious people. However, with recent advances in battery and vehicle technology, an electric car is a practical alternative for anyone wanting to save on gasoline, whether for long commutes or habitual road-tripping. In a short list, here are the benefits of electric cars in contrast to conventional ones.

1) The Future of Technology

Buying an electric vehicle (EV) is more than just a way to save money on gasoline. In places like the Silicon Valley, sentiments towards self-sustaining infrastructure is rapidly taking hold, putting EV owners ahead of the trends. Communities with tech companies heading the domestic product form the strata of state-of-the-art technology, promoting efforts to move towards an efficient and green society. Electric vehicles on the roads, in combination with a fully-supported electric infrastructure, is one part of a greater vision for the future of society. As such, there is no better time than now to experience what will shape the auto industry for years to come.

2) Cost Efficient

While on average, a regular fuel run car can incur a cost of $15,000 a year, an EV equivalent of the same in comparison costs only $600. In addition, some deals offered by power-saving companies make “off-peak” usage cheaper, making charging an EV overnight a great advantage. With many mid-range consumer electric cars such as the pure-electric Ford Focus starting at around $29,000, drivers who find themselves with one-hour commutes on the road will save significantly over the course of six months.

3) No Unnecessary Stops or Expenses

Trips to the gas station is another chore on a long list of chores that none of us really want to do. However, overnight charging of an EV in the garage effectively skirts around the hassle of stopping for gas, relying on your house’s power grid to recharge the battery. This allows for consistently uninterrupted commutes, just as long as you drive with your vehicle’s battery range in mind.

4) Less Maintenance

Unlike a piston engine operated vehicle, an electronic vehicle leaves out about a dozen mechanical parts. These left out parts contribute to a variety of maintenance tasks like frequent oil changing, spark plugs, and air filter replacement in a conventional automobile. The reduction in maintenance thus adds additional benefit in savings and convenience.

5) Environment Friendly

Last but not the least, one of the most obvious features of an EV is that they can cut down on as much as 95% of the pollution created from driving a gasoline-based car. They produce zero greenhouse gases, including harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons and many others.

Cars to Look Out For

With all that being said, buying an electric car is a significant investment. Take some time to carefully consider what the lucky recipient of your generous gift would expect from an electric vehicle, whether it’d be for your wife, husband, close friend, or yourself. If you’re considering a mid-range, practical commuter car, the Ford Focus Electric or the ever-popular Nissan Leaf are sound choices. The Ford Focus Electric has a vehicle range of 78 miles, nice, bursting acceleration at lower highway speeds, and a premium-quality interior. The Nissan Leaf boasts nimble handling, an impressive zero-to-40 mph performance, and an 84 mile driving range. Similar to all electric vehicles, both cars offer the option of upgrading the battery pack to reach up to 104 miles driving range. However, these smaller electric cars suffer from a noticeable lack of cargo space.

If you have a higher-reaching budget, consider the Tesla Model S. Being one of the most well-received electric vehicles on the market, the reasons why are no mystery considering its sleek, impressive exterior, silent prowling, and a massive driving range of 315 miles. The Model S sports an instant torque response, driving in 315 horsepower straight to the wheels to provide a 0 – 60 mph standing of 5.5 seconds, a performance that’s sure to impress all but the most discerning. If you’re really feeling a need for speed, you can upgrade to the 90D variant to charge the horsepower all the way to 417, dropping the 0-60 down to 4.2 seconds. The power doesn’t stop there, as upgrading to the P90 D Ludicrous will slam the car forward with a mind-melting 504 horsepower, 713 pound-feet of torque, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss it 2.8 second 0-60.

And they thought electric cars were lame because they made no noise. Rolling up to the startline for comparison, the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera has a 0-60 of 3.8 seconds with none of the famous electric torque.

Now that we’re done gawking at the fancy toys, there are a few things to make sure of before sloughing through the market to buy a new electric-powered sleigh. Consider the following checklist:

  1. Determine if your EV is eligible for credit and if rebates are available.
  2. Ensure your home setup is conducive to charging and check for charging rebate programs available in your region. Take into account the workplace and public charging stations outside your area as well.
  3. Check if your EV qualifies for single occupant HOV lane use.
  4. Contact your power company to inquire about discounted electricity rates.
  5. Get together with other EV drivers to learn about the new industry.

The New Year will look even more promising if you’re walking into it with one of these electric cars as your new form of transportation!

6 Ways to Support Our Troops During the Holiday Season

As the holidays begin and you start planning different activities with your families, do you ever think of our troops who are deployed all over the world on specific missions? Have you ever thought about how they may feel during the holidays when they are not able to contact their families, let alone spend time with them? To ensure the holiday cheer is felt by all this season, especially those who are out serving our country, it should be the priority of every citizen to support our troops. A small gesture from you would let those brave hearts know that you care. Here are 6 ways to support them when they need it the most.

1. Send A Care Package

Sending a care package is a nice way to let your soldiers know that you care for them. These packages typically include toiletries, snacks items, disposable cameras and many other items that they need and enjoy. Also, within the care package you may include a special letter of appreciation to the men and women in uniform, letting them know that they are valued and remembered during this holiday season. It adds a nice personal touch that may very likely make this season a happier time for them.

There are many websites and organizations that arrange for sending care packages to overseas locations where the troops are deployed. Find one you like and share some holiday love with our troops.

Here is a list of some websites that can help you send a care package:

2. Thank You Notes

You can also send a thank you note to the men in uniform. Let them know how thankful you are for their willingness to put their life on the line to protect your country so you can peacefully enjoy the holidays. This is a very thoughtful and meaningful way to support the troops.

Here are some helpful links to get you started on those Thank You notes:

3. Adopt A Troop or Family Through The Soldier’s Angel Program

Make your soldiers and their families feel appreciated and happy by adopting a troop or military family through the Soldier’s Angel Program. With this program you would not only be able to send thank you notes and care packages, but you would also be able to communicate with the troops and their families to let them know how proud you are of them. Visit the official website of the Soldier’s Angel Program or call the headquarters if you are interested in adopting a troop or family.

Soldier’s Angel Website Links:
Adopt a Soldier
Adopt a Family

4. Volunteer To Serve At A Local Military Base

What could be a better way to show support than volunteering to serve our soldiers and their families during the holidays? Check with the local base and offer your services to them during the holidays. Typical volunteer activities would include working at the children camps or working at the base hospital. You should not miss a chance to serve those who are relentlessly serving your nation.

Los Angeles Air Force Base

5. Send Out Gifts To The Families

So, what if men and women in uniform are not home with their families this holiday season? You can still make their families happy by gifting a Christmas tree or sending out Christmas presents to the children and other family members of the troops. By standing next to their families and sharing in their joy you will again be supporting your troops in a very special way.

Here are some links to guide in gifting a family this holiday season:
Toys for Tots
Christmas Spirit Foundation

6. Let Them Call Their Homes

You could also support the troops by donating money at relevant programs that will allow the soldiers to call their homes or listen to voicemail messages that are sent out by their families. Imagine the immeasurable happiness a soldier could experience as they listen to their child, spouse, parents, and/or friends wishing them a happy holiday while they sit somewhere out at the borders protecting the nation.

Below are some links to organizations that help troops call home:
Cell Phones for Soldiers
Operation Phone Home

Here, at Penna Electric, we encourage our customers and employees to support our troops during the holiday season to bring holiday cheer to those who need it most.

Practical Energy Saving Tips During the Holiday Season

With the festivities of Christmas just a few weeks away, many of us are looking to decorate our houses with the usual plethora of glittering lights and inflatable decorations. However, that also means a hike in power consumption, even if some of the more thrifty Christmas enthusiasts among us keep the lights on for a portion of every night. So how can you save on your energy bills without affecting the mood of Christmas? Here are some tips to save on electricity during this festive season.

Reduce Your Hourly Usage

As mentioned before, setting timers for lights to turn on and off at appropriate times after the sun sets will cut back heavily on electrical costs. There aren’t many people to show off to when everyone is sleeping, so switching off the lights at the strike of midnight might be a good idea. Keeping the lights on for less than eight hours a night is especially important if you still use traditional incandescent bulbs.

Entertain Efficiently

The holidays can bring many visitors; this means a lot of food and cooking. As soon as your guests arrive after finishing up with preparation, make sure you turn down your thermostat. The combination of the running stove, the hot foods and the house packed with visitors are enough to keep the house at a comfortable temperature.

Buy Energy-Efficient Gifts

While you’re focusing on cutting back your own utility bill, you can also sneak in some energy-efficient sentiment in your gifts. Consider buying efficient appliances for Christmas, such as lamps containing compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of traditional ones.

Use Lighting Fixtures Less

If you’re using Christmas lights indoors as well as outdoors, the lighting fixtures you use during normal times of the year might not be needed for the Christmas holiday. When placed in strategic areas on the walls or centers of the room, white Christmas lights can keep living rooms lit without the use of standard home lights. Though it goes without saying, always remember to switch off electronic components and lights as soon as you leave the room.

Planning Your Holiday Shopping

Many people use cars a lot during holidays while shopping and looking for electrical services. Where possible, plan out your shopping route to take as little trips as possible. Taking extra round trips is not only a hassle, but it also burns through your gasoline faster than you might think. If you’re hard-pressed to find something to do with your family during a night in December, consider walking the neighborhood to take a look at your neighbor’s decorations. They’ll make for some memorable photos, and you could get to know your neighbors better too.

For many people, Christmas lights on their trees, around their mantles, and even in their gardens are important seasonal decorations. These decorations create a cozy, atmospheric glow, and they’re hard for passer-bys to miss. Unfortunately, they will no doubt increase your energy consumption during Christmas, which in turn has a negative impact on the environment and the climate at large. Following these simple tips takes just a little bit more presence of mind. In exchange, you get to take solace that you’re making a difference. To help you on your holiday endeavors, contact electricians that offer energy-saving electrical services such as Penna Electric.