Using Electric Blankets Safely

When properly used and maintained, an electric blanket is a comforting way to get through New Zealand’s chilly winter months. However, if safety precautions are not followed when using one of these warm blankets, you could be at risk of injury or a fire.

Safety First!

An electric blanket should only be used to warm the bed. To avoid overheating (which can be life threatening, especially for the very young, ill or elderly), it should be turned off before you get into bed. In addition, keep the blanket turned off when you’re not in the room. Most electric blankets do not have automatic shut-offs when reaching a potentially dangerous high temperature, so could cause a burn or a fire hazard.

Checking Your Electric Blanket for Damage

Before using your blanket, be sure to check for damage to the heating elements. To do so, lay the blanket flat and turn it on for 15 minutes at the highest setting. Watch it closely, then turn it off. Feel for hot spots by running your hand over the blanket. Hot spots mean that the heating element’s kinked or damaged, which could lead to electric shock or fire. Look for any kinks, fraying cords, worn or exposed wires and scorch marks as well. If any type of danger is found, safely dispose of the electric blanket.

A Proper Fit Means a Safe Fit!

A properly fit electric blanket lays flat on the bed without creasing, thereby avoiding damage to the heating elements. Be sure to avoid using pins or other sharp objects to attach the blanket. Keep the cord and control switch clear of the bed so that they don’t get damaged.

Get a Replacement Regularly

Old electric blankets are more likely to be dangerous; in fact, blankets that are ten years or older account for 99% of all electric blanket fires. Replace old blankets every few years, even if they still appear to be working. Don’t ever use a blanket that is damaged. To ensure you stay safe while using an electric blanket, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended safety precautions.

Some Extra Safety Tips to Keep In Mind

  • Check that your electric blanket can be washed before doing so; never use a wet electric blanket
  • Don’t fold up or ball up the blanket when it’s operating because this concentrates the heat unevenly, thereby increasing the risk of burns
  • Avoid laying on top of the blanket as this can cause electrical wire damage
  • Never dry clean a heating blanket because the chemicals used in the process can damage heating insulation and increase fire risk
  • Consider using non-electric alternatives to keep you warm like using flannel sheets, wearing socks or adding extra blankets

Save on Energy Costs this Winter!

Looking for ways to save on energy costs this winter? If so, Switchme’s free, online power comparison calculator can easily show you what your options are regarding New Zealand energy providers. Contact us today for more details!

How to Choose Energy Efficient Appliances

Choosing energy efficient appliances is a sure-fire way to save you money on your energy bill. With all the different types and brands of appliances available, how do you select the best energy efficient one for your needs? The tips below will help you save energy costs on appliances for years to come.

Read the Energy Rating Label

The appliance’s energy rating label gives you information on how much energy a product uses so you can compare models and their energy efficiencies. The more stars there are on the label, the more efficient that appliance is. Every whiteware appliance, television, computer monitor and heat pump available for sale in New Zealand has to display this label.

There is also a blue ENERGY STAR graphic on the label that is an independent, international indicator of the most energy efficient products in each category. Be sure that when comparing appliances, they are of the same type (similar in capacity and features).

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Read Consumer Reviews from Multiple Websites

Be sure to take the time to read reviews on more than one website regarding appliances you are considering. What good is an appliance that uses the least amount of energy in its category, if it doesn’t run well or breaks down easily?

Decide on the Right Model for Your Household

Buying the appropriate sized appliance for your household will surely save on energy costs every month! Consider what you will be using the appliance for and how often. If you only have one or two people in your household, a full sized washer and dryer is probably not necessary. Choosing a smaller appliance will not only use less energy, but it will also run more efficiently with a smaller load.

Utilize the EECA’s Online Running Cost Calculator

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s (EECA) helpful “Running Costs Calculator” helps determine how the appliance’s energy rating affects the amount of energy used and how much each appliance will cost per year to run. Annual running costs are calculated using 26c per kWh.

Consider Energy-Saving Features

An appliance’s features can have a major impact on its energy efficiency. For example, in washing machines, energy saving costs can be found with features such as “cold water wash” and “half load” options; “cool dry” is great in dryers and many appliances feature a “timed delay” option that allows you to program your appliance to work during off-peak hours. Avoid water or ice dispensers in fridges as this feature can cost users 20% more in energy use!

Use Switchme to Save You Even More in Energy Costs!

Besides having energy-efficient appliances, are you looking for other ways to save on your household’s energy costs? Switchme’s free, independent advice and power comparison calculator has helped over 60,000 kiwis find a cheaper power company. Why not let Switchme help you, too? Contact us today for more details!

Simple Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

Lower Your Energy Bill and Increase Your Savings

With winter’s arrival, there’s no time like the present to consider how to lower your energy bill. Depending on the season, there are a lot of solutions that are simple and cost-free. Try out some of the ones listed below to see the savings start adding up on your energy bill!

Saving Money While Doing the Laundry

Besides taking advantage of off-peak rates and using cold water when completing your laundry, also consider the size of the load you are washing. Although you should try to do large loads only, make sure that the load will still leave about 25% of the drier empty. This promotes better air flow so that you don’t need to run the drier twice. While doing so, use dryer balls to help speed the drying time and be sure to remove the lint from your dryer trap after each load to maximize its efficiency. Even better, dry your clothes on a clothes line outside.

Circulate Air throughout Your Home

During the winter, keep the heat inside your home by drawing the curtains at dusk. To help stop draughts, use draught stopping tape or door snakes along the bottom of the doors. Set your home’s heater thermostat to a reasonable temperature and try wearing a sweater before cranking the temperature higher.

In warmer weather, circulating fans help keep the air moving throughout your home, eliminating the need for your air conditioner to work as hard. Attic fans help reduce energy by removing hot air and pulling cool air into your home.

Lighting Up Your Home with Savings

Switching to LED light bulbs will use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Start by replacing the most widely used bulbs in your home, and then replace the remainder when they burn out. In addition, if your appliances are more than ten years old, consider upgrading them to newer, Energy Star models which use much less energy.

Stop Dollars from Going down the Drain!

Try reducing your shower time as well as installing low-flow shower heads. When there’s less water flowing through your shower head, there’s less water to heat and a better cost savings to you.

Cooking Up Savings

Keeping fridges and freezers full ensures that less time is needed for the appliances to run to stay cool, since the food acts as insulation. A fridge’s condenser coils need to be clean to work less at cooling your food, so regular maintenance is suggested. When cooking food, turn the oven off a few minutes before your food is completely cooked and let the heat finish the cooking for you. Cooking food with the lid on means it will cook faster, since heat is not escaping. Better yet – use the microwave instead of the oven, since it uses less electricity and does not release as much heat back into your home.

Let Switchme Save YOU Money on Your Energy Bill

Besides ensuring you are doing your own part in reducing your energy costs, have you checked to make sure that you are using the most cost-effective energy provider? Let Switchme help you complete this task! Contact us today for more details.

Lighting – Find the Right Bulb for You!

Between comparing specifications regarding beam angles, lumens and colour temperatures, shopping for light bulbs can quickly turn into a confusing errand! However, the choice between buying either a compact flurouscent light (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulb can be made easier when you know more about what those specifications mean and which type of bulb offers what.

Measuring Brightness with Lumens

The luminous flux, specified in lumens (symbolized as “lm”) is used to quantify the amount of light emitted in all directions. When the lumen count is high, the light source will be brighter.

Depending on where you will be replacing the light bulb will determine how high of a lumen count you should have. In rooms like kitchens, bathrooms and closets where a brighter light would be beneficial, choose a bulb with a high lumen count. Although available in various intensities, the light’s colour temperature also plays a role in the intensity level.

Choosing a Colour Temperature

Specified in degree Kelvin (K), the light’s colour temperature means the colour appearance of the light. There are various types of colour temperature available when choosing a lightbulb, ranging from yellowish-warm light to blueish-cool light. Keep in mind that the lower the Kelvin value, the more yellowish the light will be. Warm, relaxing white is designated by colour temperatures that range to 3300 Kelvin and cool white is a colour temperature that ranges from 3300 to 5300 Kelvin. Higher than 5300 Kelvin is a daylight white colour temperature.

Choosing the correct colour temperature can be made simpler when you first consider the lighting function you want the bulb to fulfill. For rooms that require high levels of concentration like an office work area, a daylight white colour temperature is suggested. A warm white light is usually preferred in bedrooms and living rooms, whereas cool white light ensures maximum brightness in kitchen or utility rooms.

Spreading the Light with Beam Angles

The angle of the light emitted from the source is described by the bulb’s beam angle. A larger beam angle means that there is a wider spread of light across an area, although it will have a lower light intensity. On the other hand, a smaller beam angle determines that there is a narrow spread of light across an area, but that light will have a higher light intensity.

If you’re shopping for a bulb to replace in a floodlight, a large beam angle (more than 60 degrees) should be purchased. Narrow beam angles are better for downlights and small areas.

We Can Help You Save Energy Costs!

Choosing the right lightbulb not only creates the perfect atmosphere in the room, but it can also save on energy costs. Contact Switchme today to learn about more options regarding lowering your energy bills!

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Electric Heating – Which Heater Where?

With all the choices available when it comes to electric heating, it can be difficult to choose what type is right for you. Since each heating source is very different from the next, choosing the best one for your needs becomes easier when you consider each heating source’s benefits and disadvantages.

Micathermic Heaters

As one of the newer types of electric heat, micathermic combines the heating technologies found in both radiant and convection heating. After radiating heat off a panel, natural convection helps disperse heat throughout your room. Micathermic space heaters provide quick heat and instant comfort when you need it most. Because they are fanless, they do not re-circulate dust and other allergens throughout the room, but they also don’t provide as even of a heat. Options to either hang them on walls or place them on floors make micathermic heaters a versatile source of electric heat.

Convection Heaters

Another popular space heater option is a convection heater, which utilizes various heating elements to heat cold air. Heating a room with a convection heater takes time; however, the heat generated also lasts a long time. In addition, convection heaters are quieter than radiant heaters and because some types include fans, heat is better circulated throughout the room. However, this type of electric heat is one of the most expensive options and they can also be quite heavy.

Oil Column Heaters

Instead of using oil, oil column heaters apply electricity to warm up the oil that’s within their columns or fins. This heated oil is then transferred to the casing as well as the air circulating the fins. Although they take a long time to heat a room, they are efficient since the oil remains warm and heat is still radiated even after the heater’s turned off. Oil column heaters also operate quietly and can heat larger areas more effectively than smaller space heaters. Since their surfaces do not get very hot, they are safe to use when left unattended or while sleeping.

Oscillating Tower Fan Heaters

One other option when it comes to electric heaters is an oscillating tower fan heater. Heat is quickly produced by these tall, rotating heaters that have a radiant element. Because they warm up the room from top to bottom, an even heat is distributed. Available in various sizes to fit any table or floor space, these heaters usually feature convenient options such as high-heat, low-heat or fan-only. Although typically cheaper than other electric heat sources such as convection, their fans do make them louder. This factor may limit what rooms you would place an oscillating tower fan heater in.

We’re Here to Help!

Spending some time choosing the best source of electric heat for your needs is only one way to reduce your home or office’s energy costs. Let Switchme help you consider other ways! Contact us today for more details.