Value of an Electrical Permit

Make sure that your electrician gets a permit from your town. The inspectors are there for YOUR protection.


Preventing Mildew in Bathrooms

Fighting mildew in the bathroom is an age-old problem. Moist air in the bathroom promotes unsightly spots of mildew. The key to prevention is keeping air in the bathroom as dry as possible. Here are various techniques:   

  1. Opening a window. It’s best if air is let in at both the top and bottom of the window. Warm moist air can escape out the top and cool dry air can come in the bottom. But when the weather dips below 40 degrees, windows stay closed.
  1. Installing a bath exhaust fan. This fan should be calculated to force a complete air change in the entire bath room every three minutes. To make sure, ask your installer for the calculation.

The biggest mistake made by homeowners with bath exhaust fans is shutting off the fan as soon as the shower is over. With this approach, you wasted your money on a fan. The point of the fan is to dry the walls by forcing dry air over moist walls until the moisture evaporates.

Run the fan for 15 minutes after the shower is over. A time-delay switch is the best way. Press the 15 minute button on the way out the door and it will dry the walls and shut off automatically.

  1. Warming the bathroom. You can install: 1) a ceiling-mounted combination exhaust fan and forced air heater, 2) an electric baseboard wall heater, 3) a floor warming heater to keep the floor tiles at 98 degrees F, 4) a ceiling-mounted infrared heat lamp, etc. By warming the room, the air and the walls will stay drier.
  1. The fourth, and least desirable method is to take a cold shower. Cold water generates very little mist, and the room will stay dry.


Types of Bathroom Exhaust Fans

There are many types of bath exhaust fans to choose from. I will list the most widely used. Ask us at Augustine Electric about the one most suitable for your bathroom.

  1. Fan, Light and Forced Heat combination
  2. Fan and Light combination (semi-flush with ceiling)
  3. Fan only (semi-flush with ceiling)
  4. Remote Fan with small grills on ceiling for air removal  (semi-flush)
  5. Remote Fan with light in grill (remote fans can use multiple grills)
  6. Combination Recessed Light and Exhaust Fan  (flush with ceiling)


More Ways to Save Energy

Here are energy-saving steps which could make a big difference in your electric bill:

  1. Motion sensor light switches turn lights off when you’re not in the room. Upon entering a room, the sensor detects movement and your lights automatically turn on. As long as motion is detected in the room, the lights remain on. Upon leaving, the sensor turns the lights off. As a note, most electronics are temperature sensitive and will not work below 32 degrees F. Switches in unheated garages, sheds, etc. should be fitted with a standard switch.


  1. Energy-efficient light bulbs save electricity. Bulbs are in a constant state of evolution, becoming more energy-efficient all the time. Buying an energy-efficient bulb will save you money, but expect that new bulbs will become available with new designs and light quality every year.
  1. Paddle fans save energy all winter long. Paddle fans draw very little power but can create major savings in heating bills. Many people also find them decorative. In a room with a high ceiling, the heat rises and your furnace struggles to warm your family. The paddle fan circulates the warm air from the ceiling down to where your family can enjoy it.


  1. Attic exhaust fans save energy in summer. In summer heat, the temperature in an attic can exceed 120 degree F. Heat from the attic can radiate through wood and insulation into top floor bedrooms while the air conditioning is working hard to keep them cool! An attic exhaust fan can keep your attic 20 to 30 degrees cooler and cut your air conditioning bill. Many homeowners use gable-mounted fans.

With a cooler attic space, your roof shingles will also stay cooler, which will extend their life.

Fans should be properly installed to prevent short cycling. Make sure that your installer knows what “fan short cycling” means.


Calculating Electrical Costs

Most electrical costs can be calculated along the lines of the following example:

How much would it cost if I use this window air conditioner for 5 hours per day, for 20 days each month?

Air conditioner ratings: 120 volts, 5.5 amperes

120 Volts  X   5.5 Amps  =  660 Watts

660 Watts  X   5 Hours    =  3300 Watt-Hours

3300 Watt-Hours /  1000   =  3.3 Kilowatt-Hours  (kw-hr)

Find on your electric bill the cost of electricity in your area per” kw-hr”. Usually about $.10 / kw-hr.

3.3 kw-hr   X   $.10 /kw-hr  =   $.33 /  day (5 hours of operation.)

20 days   X   $.33 / day    =   $6.60  per month


Remember that 1000 watts used for one hour is 1 kw-hr.


Protecting Appliances and Electronics from Electrical Surges

The main causes of electrical surges are:

  1. Utility companies switching feeders
  2. Accidents involving utility poles
  3. Wind storms causing branches to cross power lines
  4. Ice storms stretching and breaking power lines

What type of surge protector is best for your home?  There are three main types of surge protectors. The best is usually a hybrid consisting of two or all three main types. Your installer should be able to tell you about the three types and which is best for you. Otherwise, he’s buying whatever the supply house has on the shelf, adequate or not.

Augustine Electric surveys your home to take into account the area, grounding electrode system, basic electrical system, electronics, appliances, computers, etc. before we specify a surge protector. We also protect incoming CATV cables and telephone cables. We engineer our systems specifically for you home.

Are surge protectors 100% guaranteed to work? In most cases they will arrest 99% of the incoming surges. However, if the good Lord really wants your appliance, he will take it!!!


Improving Swimming Pool Safety

In large in-ground swimming pools, the main suction inlet for the filter pump is at the bottom of the pool. If a child is unlucky enough to get too close to the inlet, he or she can become trapped underwater by the suction.

An electrical device is available to prevent this tragedy: the Stingl Switch. It senses an abrupt change in suction and instantly shuts the filter pump down. As a back up, we also recommend a pushbutton switch near the pool to allow manually shutting off the pool filter in an emergency.

Please call for an estimate if this concerns you.


Selecting a Back-Up Electrical Generator

When selecting a back-up generator for your home, there are several important questions to consider:

  1. Will the generator power the whole house or critical electrical appliances only?
  2. Who will service this generator?
  3. Is this a quality unit?
  4. How loud will this generator be?
  5. What fuel will the generator run on?
  6. Can I place it wherever I want to?
  7. Who will deliver, site it, and wire it up?
  8. How does the generator come on-line?


1. Will the generator power the whole house or critical electrical appliances only?
      If you want to limit your electrical outage to 10 seconds, then you will want to have your entire home backed up with the generator. If you want to back up only critical appliances like the heater, refrigerator, freezer, well pump, hot water heater, etc., a much smaller generator will suffice.

2. Who will service this generator?
     As with any engine-driven device, the generator requires service to make sure it’s ready to go in any weather at any time. Service is the number one item to be considered. The company we deal with at Augustine Electric has a guaranteed three-hour response time.

3. Is this a quality unit?
     There are many generator companies in the marketplace today. Many customers are sucked in by the very low price of one company in particular. We have installed four of these units and had problems with all four. Your money is well spent on a quality, proven company. You really do get what you pay for.

4. How loud will this generator be?
     The generators all come with basic weather housings. Most companies will offer sound-attenuated packages for an additional fee. Unless you’re extremely close to your neighbor or have the generator very close to your house, the standard housing is fine. When everyone else is in the dark except you, the generator hum will be music to your ears!

5. What fuel will the generator run on?
     Generators can run on LPG (propane), LNG (natural gas), diesel fuel, or home heating oil. Because natural gas has a lower btu value than the other fuels, many of the generator sets must be de-rated by 20% when using natural gas as fuel. However, natural gas doesn’t require deliveries or tanks.

Propane is the fuel of choice. The size of the tank will dictate run time between fill ups. Home heating oil can be used but requires extra equipment and increases maintenance requirements. Diesel fuel usually is contained in a base tank, which is literally the base of the generator, and must be re-filled as needed.

6. Can I place the generator wherever I want?
     A large whole-house generator location must be approved by the Town Zoning Department. There are noise restrictions, property line restrictions, etc. Also placing a generator close to a window or an opening where exhaust fumes can enter a home is an important concern. On the other hand, the farther away the generator is from the house, the more expensive. At Augustine Electric, we’re experienced at helping homeowners and businesses choose an optimum site for their new generator.

7. Who will deliver, place and electrically install it?
     Augustine Electric will size, install, site, get zoning approval, obtain a permit, handle inspections, and have the fuel piping installed, excavation completed, concrete pad poured, and electrical wiring installed.

We also provide you with a Manufacturer Authorized Maintenance contract. We provide you with a turn-key operation.

Generators should be sized for your electrical load. If your installer begins his proposal with “A house this size calls for,” show him the door. Calculating your electrical requirements is the only way to know the proper size. Don’t pay for more generator than you need.

8. How does a generator come on-line?
     The short answer is: automatically.

The brain of a back-up generating system is the automatic transfer switch. The utility power lines, your generator, and the panels providing power to your home are all connected to the automatic transfer switch. Upon utility power failure, the transfer switch will start the generator. When the generator is up to speed and producing electricity within the proper parameters, the transfer switch will automatically switch over to the generator as the source of power to your home or business.

Upon restoration of the utility company’s power, the transfer switch will monitor the utility power for a pre-set time to insure power stability. Once the transfer switch is satisfied, it will switch your home or business back to utility power, run the generator for a 15 minute cool-down cycle, and then, shut it down.


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