Daylight Savings Time – Homeowner’s Checklist

daylight savings timeDaylight saving time is the practice of setting clocks forward an hour in order to maximize use of daylight hours. This year, it ends on November 2nd when clocks are set back an hour at 2:00 am. While you’re restoring your clocks to their original time, there are a few other things you should check around the house to maximize safety and energy efficiency.

Smoke Detectors

This is the perfect opportunity to check all smoke detectors in your home. Change the batteries at this time each year to ensure each unit is fully functional in the event of a fire.

You should also take advantage of this opportunity to test your carbon monoxide alarm, since this time of year means your heating system will likely be in use.


Make sure each outlet in your home is operational. If there are problems, it’s time to investigate whether or not a breaker switch has been flipped. If additional or advanced troubleshooting is required, it’s best to call a licensed electrician for answers. The same story holds true for your light switches and fixtures.

Don’t forget to check faceplates for visible signs of damage. It’s fairly simple to replace faceplates and this prevents things falling into the wiring while also helping spruce up the look of rooms where damaged faceplates can be found.

Lighting Timers

During the summer months, you set timers to later hours. However, as the days grow shorter, sunset comes earlier. Perhaps now is the time to reset timers in preparation for the winter months ahead.

Exterior Lighting

Check all exterior motion sensor lights to insure they are operating properly and turning on when they sense motion of cars or persons walking on the property.

Ceiling Fans

Now is the time to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise. This will distribute the rising, warm air and help save you on heating costs.

Time for a Bright Idea

While you’re working with interior and exterior lighting, now is a great time to consider making the move to a greener lifestyle.  Start with the bulbs you use.

You may want to consider supplementing your exterior lighting with solar powered options while switching other exterior lights to LED lights. There are many new options available for homeowners to use inside the home for lighting, and LED provides many benefits worth considering.

The up-front costs of LED bulbs for the interior of your home are a little higher than CFLs or standard light bulbs. However, the long life of these bulbs combined with the energy savings they deliver more than makes up for the difference in cost in a short amount of time.

There are battery-operated lighting strips available that are perfect for task lighting under cabinets or inside cabinet doors and drawers. Look for new ways to avoid turning on the lights for quick trips to the kitchen and bathroom and your energy savings will increase.

If you need help with something more than changing a light bulb or faceplate, give us a call. Our team of expert electricians is ready to help you at 914-621-4482.


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A-AMD Power Watch: Long Range Weather Calls for Polar Vortex and Early El Nino Snow

Just when you thought you’d shaken off last year’s winter chill, the threat of severe weather and potentially damaging storms could prove imminent.  According to a recent report, the Northeast may be hit by a polar vortex and a winter-like weather walloping this fall.

polar vortex

Polar Vortex

As conditions in northern Canada begin to set up similar to last fall, getting colder and unsettled quickly, it is likely that this pattern could become a source for colder air to make its way down at times into the United States, inducing a drop in temperatures for the interior Northeast during mid-fall.

“Temperatures will not be as extreme in November when compared to last year, but October could be an extreme month,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

The report indicates a soaking November for Northeastern residents, and El Niño will arrive promptly this winter, fueling early winter snow across the area.

“December could get kind of wild due to the very active southern jet stream that is going to provide the moisture for bigger snowstorms,” Pastelok said. “The Northeast could have a couple of big storms in December and early January.”

Make sure you and your home are prepared in the event of a power outage.  Read our post for tips on backing up your electricity when storms strike, potentially leaving you powerless.

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Are you and your home ready for another powerful storm?



winter storm and power outages

In the last three years the northeast has seen several super storms and hurricanes that have had devastating effects on the landscape and left civilians without power from 2 to 10 days and more in some areas. To this day certain parts of the Tri-State area are still trying to recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Have you thought about installing back up power in your home?


A generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, which can be used to provide your home or business with power in an emergency situation.

There are basically two types of emergency generators; how you choose one depends on your budget and more importantly, your needs during a power outage.



Portable Generators are smaller and can be used in remote areas as well as homes (outside only). They are easy to move around since most models come with wheels. Portable Generators come in power sizes from 800 watts to 22,500 watts and typically run on gasoline or diesel fuel and few can even run on a small portable propane tank. A tank of fuel, with constant use, will give you an approximate run time of 8-10 hours at full electrical load rate.

generator portable

Figure A

Portable generators are connected temporarily to your electrical system using either a manual transfer switch (see fig. a) or directly to your electrical panel using an “interlock Kit” (see fig b). Please make sure that either connection is installed by a licensed electrician.

portable generator connect

Figure B

Portable generators usually have to be taken out of a storage area or garage and started up using a pull method or with many larger, newer units, an electric starter. Once started, the generator requires a connection to the electrical system, much like plugging in an appliance




Automatic standby generators are typically larger units that are housed in their own outdoor weather resistant enclosure. They are fixed outside the home and are permanently connected to your electrical system.

Standby generators generally produce substantial kilowatts and are capable of running for longer periods. They can operate on either natural gas, LP propane fuel or Diesel fuel (commercial units), which means you can run the units for days without the need for refueling.

Standby generators are permanently connected to the electrical system via an automatic transfer switch that will transfer the direction of power from utility service connection to the generator connection automatically with no need for human assistance (see figure c). Standby generators also sense the loss of power and startup automatically so there is no need to go outside to start it up.

Sizes for Automatic standby generators range from 7kw to 60kw for typical residential homes and higher than 100kw for larger homes and businesses.


Standby generator

Figure C


Choosing a generator sounds difficult and can indeed be a daunting task, however there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to help you determine the type and size generator you will need. The first question would be, in an emergency event, how much power do I need? And the second question is, what is my budget?  Here are a few more questions to help you make the right choice.

-          Do I want to stay indoors while the generator starts automatically?

-          Do I want peace of mind while I am away or out of the house?

Then you will want to look into an Automatic Standby Generator.

-          Do you want to run basic items for a short period of time each day?

-          Are you capable of pull starting your generator and refueling it?

Then you will want to look into a Portable Generator.

Budget is also a huge factor in choosing your generator. A standby generator requires professional and licensed installation beginning with the generator unit, and the fuel lines, whether it be natural gas or propane fuel. A typical installation for an Automatic Standby Generator will run between $7,500 to $50,000 dollars, depending on the size and the installation particulars, such as distance from the home.


-          Don’t run a generator in an enclosed area.

-          Don’t run a generator inside a home or inside a garage.

-          Don’t connect your generator using a back feed method. Not only is dangerous for you, your family and for the utility company workers but it is illegal and can void your house insurance should you cause a fire.

-          Do consult with a licensed electrician.

-          Do contact your local building department to find out what codes are applicable in your area.

-          Do stay inside during a storm and start your portable generator only after the storm has passed.

A-Amp Electric provides supply and installation of all generators. We can provide a turnkey installation, including plumbing for fuel, or just provide the wiring for Portable and Automatic Standby Generators.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments on the subject. Our on-site consultation and estimate is completely free and questions can be called in or emailed to our office. You will receive a response. Visit our full website for more information about our company.

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How to Brighten Up Your Outdoor Living with Landscape Lighting

outdoor lighting

In temperate months, people are naturally more inclined to move their lifestyle and activities outside.  Whether it’s dinner on the deck or a Labor Day BBQ, you’ll need to consider some type of lighting options. Landscape lighting is an inexpensive way to give your home an inviting look. Before going to the home improvement store, however, here’s some advice for choosing the right landscape lighting for your needs.

LED Lights vs. Incandescent Lights

The incandescent light bulb isn’t dead…they’ve just become more energy-efficient, and a lot more expensive. LED lights are the more popular choice of bulbs for many reasons, mainly because they have a longer life, are more ecologically-friendly and operate well in extreme temperatures.

LED lights have a life of about 40,000 hours, equivalent to 20 years, while incandescent or halogen bulbs last only about 2 years on average.

LED lights are also energy-efficient, using 1 to 11 watts on average while incandescent bulbs use 20 to 60 watts.

When purchasing a set of LED landscape lights, always choose a manufacturer that offers the best warranty for your money. Some companies offer lifetime warranties and though you will pay more at the outset, if something should go wrong with the fixture, the company will replace it for just the cost of shipping it back to them. Two of these manufacturers offering lifetime warrantees are Cast Lighting and Aurora Lighting.

However, if you already have outdoor fixtures that still work, you might be able to find replacement LED bulbs instead of replacing the whole fixture. We have found that it is more cost effective to replace a bulb than an entire fixture.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Sometimes home owners try to incorporate every single form of outside light into their landscape. Landscape lights are meant to add ambiance along with some extra lighting, not to make your home spotlighted for all the neighbors to see. Start with one form of outdoor lighting, get it installed and then determine if you need more.

  • When installing path lights, it’s important that you DON’T overdo it. You want to create an inviting pathway to your home, not land airplanes.
  • Use indirect lighting when possible to avoid getting that glare in your guests faces. No one wants to feel like they are being interrogated at a get-together.
  • Not every tree needs a light fixture. To create a nice up light, try to use a light that will be hidden from view. Another way to create drama is using a “moonlight” at the top of the tree.

Know When to Call an Electrician

Low voltage lighting can be a DYI installation and offers more choices of fixture designs. Line voltage lights are often used in commercial or public settings but they can give you more options in terms of wattage. Low voltage lighting is less expensive because there is no need to bury lines as deep as with line voltage and the wire is less expensive than line voltage wire.

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Cheap Chills for a Hot House: Ways to Keep Cool and Costs down this Summer

sweaty womanNow that we’ve finally beaten our way out of one of the coldest meanest winters in recent history, it’s time to start managing the thermostat in the other direction. For the next 16 weeks or so, folks will be battling the heat of summer. Staying cool is a must, but blasting the air conditioner isn’t an optimal solution if you want to keep energy bills at bay.  So, what can you do to stay cool and keep costs down? We have put together a few simple tricks:

Keep the thermostat at 78 degrees
Every degree below 78 causes your heating and cooling system to work harder, which can increase your bill by about 5%, per degree.

You can also save around 10% on your home heating and air conditioning by using a programmable thermostat, which are more accurate than manual devices. For instance, you can program the air conditioner to shut off automatically during the day when you aren’t home.

When you are away from the house, make sure your thermostat is set to “Auto” instead of “On”. When the thermostat is set to “On”, the motor is left constantly running. Not only is this inefficient, it can actually generate heat.

Use ceiling fans to cool rooms
The energy required to run a ceiling fan vs. an air conditioner is significantly lower. During the hot summer months, make sure the fan blades are pointed down. The angle of the fan blades pushes the air down and creates a comfortable cool breeze, which can forestall use of the air conditioner.

Shades and curtains
Have you ever noticed how much cooler it is in the shade than out under direct sunlight? The difference between the shade and the sun can be anywhere from a 5 to 20 degree difference.

For the windows and doors that face the direct heat of the sun, specifically on the south and west sides of a home, keeping shades and curtains closed can also keep it up to 20 degrees cooler. Using white curtains that reflect the light of the sun away from the house, rather than darker colors, which absorb light and heat.

Other Energy Saving Tricks

  • If your home gets very humid in the summertime, a dehumidifier can help the air feel a lot cooler.
  • Avoid placing lamps or electronics near the thermostat. Extra heat generated by these appliances will tell the thermostat that the air is hotter than it is, and the air conditioner will run when it isn’t needed.
  • Turn off your electronics, including computers, when they are not being used. They generate a lot of heat.

Do you have tips for beating the summer heat?  Tell us here.

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Save Money on Your Electric Bill — 5 Ways to Bury Vampire Energy Suckers

energy vampire Who doesn’t want to save money on their utility bills? How many times a day do parents plead with their kids to turn out the lights and shut the television off when they leave the room? Surprisingly, all that well-intentioned lecturing may not make much of an impact, as many of our electronic devices in the home continue to drain energy, even when they are “off.” So much for conserving energy and dollars, right?

Although today’s electronic devices and appliances are much more energy-efficient, most of our homes have more devices than ever before, which is the first reason why our electric bills are rising. Homes used to be limited to lamps, electric ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines; now we have those appliances along with multiple computers, tablets, iPods and cell phones, just to name a few.

Kim Komando wrote a great article on this topic for USA Today back in 2012, and her advice is still relevant – if not more – today. We’ve pulled together five tips, including her suggestions, to help you put your vampire energy suckers to rest.

5 Tips for Saving Money on Your Electric Bill:

  1. Turn off & unplug unnecessary devices. This may sound time consuming but you can also turn it into a family game every evening. Unplug table lamps in every room that you don’t use regularly. Unplug phone chargers, toaster ovens, televisions, computers and anything else that you don’t need during the nighttime hours. Decide if you can unplug the coffee maker or if it’s worth having it automatically programmed to make your cup of coffee every morning. The more you can unplug the more money you can save. And you may find that some of these items remain unplugged for multiple days, until you need to use them again.
  2. Use inexpensive power switches or socket adapters. These switches or adapters plug into your wall sockets but they have an ‘on/off’ button, so your plugs can remain in the power switch over night but the power button can be shut off. If there’s no power leading to the device, there’s no extra cost of keeping the device plugged in. Some of these adapters have timed switches, so you simply set the timer and it shuts itself down. This is a great alternative for the coffee maker and television; simply set the time the power should go off and what time it should go back on.
  3. Purchase a smart power strip or surge protector. These are handy for desktop computers and also televisions with game stations because the ‘smart’ power strip can identify when a component has gone idle and will then shut down the outlet. Many of these smart strips also come with remote controls so you don’t have to squeeze behind tables or into corners to physically turn on the power.
  4. Turn off your hot water heater when on vacation or shut down the power with a timer switch. We often forget about our hot water heaters since they’re usually buried down in our basements but keeping the setting at 120 degrees or less will save you money and reduce the risk of scalding. Likewise, unless you have a house sitter while you’re away, turning off the water heater while you’re away will save you even more money.
  5. Always buy Energy Star appliances and keep reminding your kids to turn off their electronics!

What are your energy-saving tips? Tell us here!

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Cree LED light bulbs

Here is an interesting piece regarding LED bulbs from Cree Lighting. We’ve used the 60watt version of this bulb and it compares very well to a regular incandescent bulb. They give off a nice, warm even glow and we are very happy with their performance.

Click Here

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