Seattle Commercial & Industrial Electrical Contractor
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04 Jan 2016

Ways You Could be Losing Energy in the Winter Time


When winter arrives, the chilled weather causes people to stay inside to keep warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of folks to use a ton of energy. Whether it means using a furnace increasing electricity use, bills tend to be higher in the winter because of this. On top of holiday spending with purchasing gifts, you don’t need extra bills to dampen your seasonal spirits! Discover how you may be losing energy in the winter and how to avoid costly energy bills.

  1. Close your Windows and Doors

According to The Energy Information Administration, approximately one-third of heat loss in homes occurs from just your windows and doors alone. With that being said, one of the best ways to prevent heat loss is to simply add blinds or draperies to help trap the heat to establish a thermal barrier. It is also critical to note that indoor cooling won’t occur when blinds or draperies are open during the early day time. This actually brings direct solar gain to your home to eliminate the cooling.

  1. Thermostat Set Too High

A common mistake everyone may go through in their homes is setting their thermostat high for various reasons such as: trying to make the house warmer the fastest way possible, or to maintain the heat throughout the day. Energy experts have acknowledged that households during a 24 hour period can save around 3 percent on energy bills for every lower degree you set on the thermostat. Also, do you have a digital programmable thermostat? You can actually adjust when you want your thermostat to turn on and off any time of the day. One suggestion is to have your thermostat placed at a moderate temperature of 68 degrees as you are up and about. Then, set it lower while you are out of the house or sleeping. This way, you can save around 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill!

  1. Inefficient Lighting

Are you using LED/fluorescent bulbs in your household? It may be time to do so if you haven’t considered them for the winter! Adding these bulbs could essentially save you $75 per year. Also, another reason to consider LED holiday lights is because older lights use approximately 10 times the energy of newer lights. Plus, LED lights are safer because of the fact they are cool burning.

  1. Electronic Tips

Staying at home means lounging around, which will probably cause you to watch TV and use all sorts of electronic devices. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind on how electronics are contributing to energy usage in your home:

  1. Standby mode on electronics: Even if you turn off plugged in devices and set to standby mode, this is still using energy to power little things such as displaying the time.
  2. Try considering purchasing a laptop over a desktop computer; laptops initially use less energy and don’t need to be permanently plugged in.
  3. Make sure to unplug fully charged electronics or batteries. Even at 100%, some chargers will continue to charge even when the device is not plugged in.

Want more tips? Check out energy.gov for more incentives on how to save up on your energy bill this winter.

About Kirby Electric 

Kirby Electric, Inc. is a premier electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical construction. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team of electricians, low voltage technicians and office staff are led by senior leadership whose core philosophy is consistently delivering exceptional service. Kirby Electric offers a wide array of services to meet the needs of our customers and ensure a smooth operation of their facilities. Learn more about our services by calling 253-859-2000.

Image 1: Image courtesy of lkpro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image 2: Image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Images 3: Image courtesy of Ventrilock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image 4: Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

27 Oct 2015

All About Light Bulbs

With technology changing daily, it can sometimes be hard to know what to use and what not to use in your home or business. Light bulbs are an out of sight, out of mind kind of item. You have them, but don’t replace them for quite some time and it may not seem important to have the latest and greatest light bulb. Installing the latest types of light bulbs will not only save you more money, but it will also benefit the environment. Don’t know the differences between different kinds of light bulbs, don’t worry! We have covered some of the most popular bulbs and what to expect with each type and whether or not to keep them or replace them.

Incandescent

This type of bulb produces light using electricity that heats a metal filament until it becomes “white” or hot. This is where they get their incandescent name as they were said to “incandesce”. 90% of the energy that is emitted from these bulbs is heat which can cause lamps to get hot. Incandescent light bulbs were the most commonly used bulb as well as the least expensive. It wasn’t until 2012 that these bulbs were in the beginning stages of being phased out in the United States. The reason behind the phase out is that they no longer meet federal energy-efficiency standards. It is recommend that if you currently use this type of bulb in any of your lighting, that it be replaced with a more energy-efficient option such as an LED.

Compact Fluorescent (CFL)

 CFLs work by sending an electric flow between electrodes which are positioned at each end of a tube containing gases. This action then produces UV light and heat, at which point, the UV light strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb. This is then turned into visible light. CFLs use about a quarter of the energy as incandescent bulbs but that doesn’t come without a risk. Unfortunately, these types of bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury which has been known to be harmful.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

LED light bulbs work by sending an electric current that passes through semiconductor material. This in turn illuminates small light sources called LEDs according to Energy Star. LED bulbs are small and can be used in many different areas because of their versatility. These bulbs are also knows as “directional” light sources, which means they can emit light in a specific direction. LED bulbs use about 1/3 to 1/30th the amount of electricity as Incandescent or CFL bulbs. This means you are saving energy and reducing your electric bill.

It is recommended that eventually all light bulbs are switched out to something more energy and cost-effective such as an LED bulb. Kirby Electric can help your business solve its electrical and lighting problems with lighting retrofits! You can schedule an energy audit with Kirby Electric and find out how your business can go green and save money at the same time!

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric, Inc. is a premier electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical construction. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team of electricians, low voltage technicians and office staff are led by senior leadership whose core philosophy is consistently delivering exceptional service. Kirby Electric offers a wide array of services to meet the needs of our customers and ensure a smooth operation of their facilities. Learn more about our services by calling 253-859-2000.

02 Oct 2015

Fall and Winter Power Outage Preparation

The last major power outage in the Pacific Northwest was 5 years ago in November 2010. A week-long deep freeze resulted in a power outage for most home owners and businesses across the state. While our winters here in the Greater Seattle area never get nearly as bad as temperature drops in other locations, it is still important to prepare for electricity shortages caused by bad weather. Here are a few power outage preparation tips to get your business or home ready for the upcoming winter weather season.

1. Prepare and Stock an Emergency Kit

This will included the essentials, and any additional needs specific to your family or employees.

  • Water: 1 gallon per person, per day and a 3 day supply minimum
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Medications
  • Sanitation options
  • Extra cash

2. Keep a Full Tank of Gas

Many gas stations will not be able to supply gas during a power outage unless they carry back-up generators, so it is important to keep a full tank of gas—especially when you hear that a storm is in the forecast, along with a gasoline container stored in a safe place. Even if nearby gas stations still have power during an outage, many will inevitably be out of gas if the outage is due to freezing temperatures, since trucks delivering the gas cannot make it through the ice to supply stations. Share this tip with your teams at your business to help with individual employees’ safety.

3. Don’t Forget About Pets

Businesses that are pet friendly or homes that have four-legged family members sometimes forget to stock up on additional pet food, supplies, and any medications the animals are taking. And for the pets that need electricity for heat lamps or water pumps, make sure you have a battery operated back-up option to keep them safe and happy. Scaly, furry, and feathered family members will be glad you did in the event of an emergency.

Why Power Outage Preparation Matters

While not many weather-related power outages can be prevented, they can be prepared for. Becoming knowledgeable about electricity will help alíviate some of the stress from unexpected changes in our daily routines. Keeping your business or home as close to highly functioning through an electrical outage can be a more manageable feat when you’re prepared.

Even without power outages, are your electrical systems up to par? Contact Kirby Electric for more information on upgrading your lighting, electrical panels, and other important systems to make your office or warehouse safer and more efficient throughout the year.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric, Inc. is a premier electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical construction. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team of electricians, low voltage technicians and office staff are led by senior leadership whose core philosophy is consistently delivering exceptional service. Kirby Electric offers a wide array of services to meet the needs of our customers and ensure a smooth operation of their facilities. Learn more about our services by calling 253-859-2000.

25 Feb 2015

Renewable Energy Gets Greener

Renewable Energy Gets Greener
Engineered trees could complement the ecological benefits of trees like this in urban areas

News outlet CNN recently reported on an inventive way for nature and technology to meet—in a steel tree designed to generate power for heating, lighting, and charging.

CNN writes that the French “Arbre a Vent,” the tree created to turn air into energy, has changed preconceptions on what renewable energy really looks like. The goal is simple: to turn air currents into energy wherever possible, particularly in cities where practical and aesthetic needs call for an alternative to traditional devices such as wind turbines.

A prototype of the artistic tree will be “planted” in Paris for two months starting mid-March, and developments and ideas will continue to flow as a result of its innovation in wind power. On the horizon, according to company engineer Julia Revuz, are “mini wind turbines” that could fit into a variety of crowded urban landscapes.

Something From Nothing: Renewable Energy

The idea of using a plentiful resource (wind) to create energy has motivated eco-friendly thinking for years. Last year we learned about the possibility of creating electricity from garbage, and Vermont’s City of Burlington managed to receive their power exclusively from natural sources: water, wind, and biomass (material from organisms, usually plants), ThinkProgress reported.

Get More Efficient

Retrofitting means enhancing or adding to something existing. In the electricity industry, retrofits are especially necessary in older buildings that don’t have today’s advanced electrical systems. Newer electrical systems not only save operating costs, but they also focus on eco-friendly output. Looking at warehouse electrical costs, Kirby Electric discovered a way for a poorly lit warehouse to save nearly $10,000 yearly, and install brighter lights that make working conditions safer and more productive.

Learn more about lighting retrofits and how they could change the way you do business.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier Seattle electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. As your local commercial electrician, we can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to get a quote.

(Image by rakratchada torsap via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

22 Dec 2014

How to Save Energy During the Holidays

This holiday give yourself the gift of energy savings. Cut back on energy charges by changing how you cook, clean, and even decorate and you could pocket savings. These energy-saving strategies from The California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center will help you prepare your home or work for the holiday season.

1. Cut back in the kitchenWoman baking cookies with young girl

Use your oven’s window to see if a dish is done.  “Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside—by as much as 25 degrees— which increases cooking time and wastes energy,” The California Energy Commission Reports.

Cook with pans that fit your burners to save energy. When pots and pans are too small for the burner, excess heat is produced that you pay for. Also take a break from the stove when possible and cook meals with energy-saving microwaves, electric skillets, toaster ovens, and slow cookers. These alternative heating methods can you save time as well.

2. Do some light cleaning
Dirty plate and silverware

Save additional energy by ensuring the dishwasher is always at maximum capacity before it runs. If you need to pre-rinse any pieces, turn the tap to cold. As you hand wash delicate settings after special occasions, scrub and rinse off dishes in full sinks or tubs instead of letting the faucet run continuously.

3. Decorate differently

The California Energy Commission suggests accenting your home with miniature or LED lights to save energy while decorating, and installing an automatic timer that keeps lighting displays within budget. You may also want to get creative and deck your halls and trees with nostalgic garlands of cookies, candy, or popcorn in lieu of lights.

4. Spread the word

If your goal is to see significant change in your energy bill, communicate these tips to everyone in your home or workplace, either through conversations or friendly posted reminders on how to save energy.

High-energy costs might be making you rethink your home or business’ lighting systems. Request a quote from Kirby Electric so we can help make you save time and money.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier  Seattle electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. As your local commercial electrician, we can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to  get a quote.

11 Dec 2014

New Home Safety Monitoring Light Bulb

safety monitoring
A new Kickstarter Campaign is receiving lots of publicity for its goal: to prevent home burglaries. Boston Business Journal reports on how the Kickstarter BeON Home  hopes to deter criminals—using a light bulb that re-creates lighting habits when residents are away from home, even going so far as to turn on lights when the doorbell sounds.

The new bulb has additional intelligent attributes that users can trigger from an app:

  • Defense against power outages that eliminates returning to a dark house
  • Emergency lighting prompted by smoke detectors
  • Natural fading and dimming that makes indoor light more comfortable

Specs are simple but smart. BeON bulbs rely on 800 lumens of LED, Bluetooth technology, a microphone, processor, and rechargeable battery. Lights transfer information with one another, so every bulb in the building can be smarter and more efficient at all times.

What Could a Security Bulb Do For Businesses?

BeON Home plans to ship their intelligent bulbs out in summer 2015. There’s no information yet on whether the bulb could spawn an idea for commercial light safety, but it could be a promising way to reduce shrink and prevent loss solely or paired with traditional monitoring systems.

Keep Your Business Safe Now

Smart bulbs may not have reached the commercial and industrial markets, but you still have the ability to keep your company’s building safe now. Kirby Fire/Security makes it easier to manage all your monitoring services. Fire alarm design and installation, 24-hour UL monitoring, and CCTV are some of the ways we enhance commercial buildings.

A Strong Case for Effective Safety Monitoring

Commercial safety monitoring is important to a business’ bottom line. Not only does loss prevention affect business plans and budgeting, but damage from a disaster like a fire could potentially raise legal issues if necessary standards aren’t met.

Fire alarm installation is a simple but highly effective way to increase the safety of employees and protect property and products. If you’re unsure whether your business needs fire alarm monitoring, look at the following 2009-2011 statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • “An estimated 86,500 nonresidential building fires were reported to United States fire departments each year and caused an estimated 85 deaths, 1,325 injuries, and  $2.6 billion in property losses per year.”
  • “Smoke alarms were not present in  52 percent of the larger, nonconfined fires in occupied nonresidential buildings.”
  • “Outside and special properties accounted for the most nonresidential building fires ( 21 percent), while storage buildings accounted for the most nonresidential building fire deaths ( 29 percent).”

Security monitoring is another important way to safeguard against burglary attacks. In burglary cases, the loss isn’t always just from product or equipment theft, but also from damaged sustained to property during break in. Replacing windows and doors adds up to another expense.

The City of Woodinville, WA points out that “Businesses are four times as apt to be burglarized as homes, and small businesses are targets in over half of the commercial burglaries committed.” Among other safety steps, the City recommends not only installing an alarm, but posting visible notices stating an alarm system is in use.

Do you know which monitoring systems your business needs to prevent loss? See the   tools we use to keep businesses protected.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier  Seattle electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. As your local commercial electrician, we can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to  get a quote.

23 Sep 2014

LEDs Expected to Change the Night Skies of Major U.S. Cities

LEDs

Major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle are slowly replacing their existing city street lights with more energy-efficient LED lights, a move that is already changing the way these cities look at night, according to a recent article in Forbes. Now, instead of the heavy orange glow people were accustomed to seeing at night when flying in to a city like L.A., a cool silver glow illuminates the city below, leading to blacker skies and brighter streets.

Can LEDs Cut Back on Light Pollution?

LEDs

Aside from enjoying the long-term energy savings of LEDs, many large cities are also hoping to reduce light pollution, a growing concern as our industrial civilization introduces more and more artificial light sources into our once-starry skies, the article indicated. While LEDs by themselves may not reduce light pollution, proponents believe that the true benefit of LEDs is calibrating them to use less light over all. For example, LEDs can also be connected to motion sensors, which can conceivably be used to scale back on lighting when there is no activity on the ground below.

Benefits of LEDs

It’s not surprising that major cities are willing to take on the heavy upfront costs of LED lights once the benefits are considered, which include the following:

  • While LEDs cost significantly more up front than traditional city streetlights, they last significantly longer and emit two to three times more light per watt.
  • Emitting more light per watt means LEDs can provide between 30% and 70% savings on electricity costs in a single year.
  • The digital chips that make up LEDs are only expected to get cheaper over the years.
  • LEDs can also be programmed for other purposes, allowing cities to monitor crime, track the location of power outages and even coordinate disaster relief efforts. Experts are already predicting a boom in lighting controls once LEDs flood the market.

Kirby Electric Provides Lighting Retrofits

While it’s encouraging to see municipalities investing in a cleaner environment for future generations, Kirby Electric has also noticed the move toward energy efficiency on a smaller scale — with our commercial and industrial customers. We are proud to help provide lighting retrofits for our customers that reduce energy costs while boosting the quality of the light in their facilities. We excel at designing state-of-the-art lighting packages that are low-maintenance and are “greener” overall.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier electrical contractor in Seattle specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. As your local industrial electrician, we can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to get a quote.

(Images via Forbes.com)

08 Sep 2014

Seattle City Light to Launch Smart Meter Initiative

smart meters

In June 2014, the Seattle City Council approved a strategic plan by Seattle City Light that includes an advanced metering initiative. Advanced metering is expected to cut operating costs for the public electric utility while helping to provide better service and more accurate metering for commercial and residential utility customers.

The initiative, which is slated to go online at the end of 2017, will replace analog meters with smart meters that measure and transmit customers’ energy usage directly to the utility so that customers’ bills are based on actual usage, not estimated usage by meter readers.

What Are the Benefits of Advanced Metering?

The benefits of advanced metering are as follows:

  • The electric utility will immediately know when there is a power outage rather than depending on customers to call in and report outages. With advanced metering, the meters affected by the outage alert the utility’s system control center the moment an outage occurs. This helps the utility identify the location of the outage more quickly so crews can be dispatched to restore power in a timelier manner.
  • Advanced metering will give electric customers more information about their electrical usage by time of day and how much is used. While previous bills only show a customer’s electric consumption with no additional information, the new metering system will give customers the option to see their energy use in real-time, which might clue them in to sudden problems in their electrical system that are causing unusually high electric bills.
  • Advanced metering eliminates the possibility of manual meter reader mistakes and helps ensure meters are read and billed correctly each time.
  • Advanced metering will get more Seattle City Light vehicles off the road as meter readers are reassigned to other positions at the utility, leading to less overall pollution.

Conclusion

Armed with better information about their electric usage, commercial electric customers should have a better ability to detect electrical problems that might need to be addressed by an experienced commercial electrician. When those problems occur, Kirby Electric will be available to help troubleshoot and fix the problems.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier Seattle electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. As your local commercial electrician, we can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to get a quote.

(Image via PG&E)

31 Jul 2014

Imagine Creating Energy to Power a Home with Trash

electricity from garbage

Have you ever thought that your garbage might have a higher purpose? Surprisingly enough, it does! Seattle City Light provides some of the most environmentally responsible energy and is always trying to find ways to leave less of an environmental footprint. This is why Seattle City Light soon plans to buy all of the electricity produced by the Columbia Ridge landfill gas power plant in Oregon according to The Skanner.

Electricity from Garbage?

electricity from garbage

With the ongoing concern for our environment, now more than ever finding alternative ways to create energy is important. This is why Waste Management and Seattle Public Utilities are working together for a common purpose. Seattle Public Utilities currently ships garbage to Columbia Ridge where it sits at the landfill. Instead of just letting garbage sit and rot, Waste Management has been able to capture the methane gas produced by this decaying garbage and turn it into energy! According to Waste Management, they are going to double the amount of energy that they currently produce from 6.4 megawatts to 12.8 megawatts. This amount of energy is enough to power 12, 500 homes in Seattle.

Green Initiatives Taking Place in Washington

Not only are public utilities services trying to find more sustainable ways to create energy, but they also want to find a way to renew and reuse water. Every day gallons and gallons of water get flushed down the drain that are not polluted enough to discard completely. That is why Washington State is working on projects to reclaim water. Water that is unsafe for drinking but that has still been treated can be used for such things as irrigating crops or flushing toilets. With water being a sparse resource in some areas in the state, becoming more efficient will benefit not only the communities in Washington but also our gorgeous surroundings.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier Seattle electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. We can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to get a quote.

(Images by porbital and hinnamsaisuy via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

28 Mar 2014

Heavy Mountain Snow in February Means Windfall for Electric Utilities

Heavy Mountain Snow in February Means Windfall for Electric Utilities
Ross Dam / Photo by US Army Corp of Engineers

Thanks to record-breaking snow in the mountains in February, the Northwest’s electrical utilities may not be out of luck after all, according to a recent Seattle PI blog. A drier than usual start to winter had electrical companies in Seattle predicting empty mountains and empty pockets.

Much to their surprise, a sudden surplus of runoff will allow for the sale of up to $19 million worth of power for Seattle City Light, Seattle’s publicly owned electric power utility. The Northwest region has an extraordinary amount of power to sell and fortunately, Seattle customers benefit from the publicly owned electrical utilities with a zero dollar surcharge, the blog explained.

Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco was quoted in the blog as saying, “While any forecast can and will change based on how much electricity we can produce and the price we can get for that power, we are in a much better position than we were earlier in the year.”

How Much Snow Hit the Passes?

Kirby electric_mountain snowBetween mid-February and mid-March the snowpack grew 32% in Snoqualmie and as of last week was up to 108% of normal while the Harts snowpack is up to 118% of normal, the article explained.

Beaver Pass in the North Cascades, Northeast Washington and Northern Idaho all have snow well above normal.

Other Benefits of Snow Runoff

Not only does snow runoff allow for low cost hydroelectric power in the Northwest region, it also provides water to the Columbia and Yakima irrigation districts and assists young salmon upstream with a quick river flow, the blog noted.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric is a premier Seattle electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical contracting. We can help with any electrical needs when it comes to upgrading older buildings, including equipment hook ups, rewiring or relocating panels, and lighting upgrades. We also work with electrical companies like Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Lakeview Power and others that will provide a rebate for upgrading to a more efficient lighting upon approval of the project. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to request a quote.

(Photos via blog.seattlepi.com and by Evgeni Dinev via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)