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General

Why should I hire Highlights Chicago?
What does it mean to be bonded, licensed and insured?
Safety with circuit breakers
What voltage level is considered dangerous?
Can I put a timer on a water boiler so that it will go on even if I’m not at home?
Benefits of using electric heaters?
How can I save money on my electric bill?
How are amps related to wattage?
Can a child get a shock from putting a key or screwdriver into a wall outlet?
What causes lights to randomly dull or brighten?
Is it a fire hazard to leave a bathroom ceiling vent fan running?
Electricity bill- costs more to keep fridge full or empty?
How can I convert a 120V box to 240V for AC?
I live in an older home with Knob & Tube wiring.  Is this safe?
How much electricity does an average American home use?
If an appliance is turned off on does it still use electricity?

Why should I hire Highlights Chicago?
Highlights Chicago is a full-service, family owned, electrical company that has been serving Chicago land area for over 10 years.

Our electricians are highly experienced and trained in residential, commercial and industrial wiring in addition to possessing considerable expertise in  electrical repair and service.  Moreover, our  electricians undergo ongoing training to keep current on ever changing technologies affecting our industry. We pride ourselves on providing quality workmanship and delivering work on time and within budget. Satisfying our clients on each and every project is the most important thing we do.

We look forward to an opportunity to provide our expertise and superior quality electrical services to serve your residential and business needs.  We are fully licensed, bonded and insured electrical contractor. 

Please Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.

What does it mean to be bonded, licensed and insured?
Performance bond
guarantees that a contractor will perform the work as specified by the contract.  In the event that the contractor does not perform the work as agreed, the client can make a claim to the surety company.  Once investigation is completed,  the surety company will pay the claim and then turn to the contractor for reimbursement of the amount paid on the claim and any legal fees incurred.

License – certifies that a person is competent in a particular subject matter, in this case, has working knowledge of all things electrical.  Additionally, license allows an electrician to pull his own permits, saving time and money by expediting the approval process by local building authority

Insurance –
often referred to as contractors' general liability insurance, covers damages through accidents and mistakes on the job sites.  Clients should ask to be named as an additional insured and request a copy of the Insurance Certificate prior to commencement of work.

If you have any questions regarding above items, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

Safety with circuit breakers
If you check out the electrical panel in your home, it is likely you will find you have circuit breakers.  These are automatic devices which control the amount of electricity passing through specific part of your house.  If too much electricity flows into a circuit, the breaker automatically shuts down to prevent damage to the system.
  • If breakers feel hot or frequently trip, cutting electricity to appliances, that’s a sign of problems.  Call one of our electricians if you suspect a problem with your circuit breakers.
  • Once a year turn all circuit breakers off, then on, to clear the contents of any corrosion.  It’s important that breakers are able to move easily, or they won’t be doing their jobs.
If you suspect a major problem, never attempt to correct it yourself.  The health and welfare of your circuit breakers is best left to a professional electrician.

What voltage level is considered dangerous?

Although there is no absolute rule, any level that exceeds 30 volts is generally considered dangerous.

According to Wikipedia “Voltages of greater than 50 V applied across dry unbroken human skin are capable of producing heart fibrillation if they produce electric currents in body tissues that happen to pass through the chest area. The electrocution danger is mostly determined by the low electrical conductivity of dry human skin. If skin is wet, or if there are wounds, or if the voltage is applied to electrodes that penetrate the skin, then even voltage sources below 40 V can be lethal if contacted.  Accidental contact with high voltage supplying sufficient energy will usually result in severe injury or death. This can occur as a person's body provides a path for current flow, causing tissue damage and heart failure. Other injuries can include burns through the arc generated by the accidental contact. These can be especially dangerous if the victim's airways are affected. Injuries may also be suffered as a result of the physical forces exerted as people may fall from height or be thrown a considerable distance”.

Can I put a timer on a water boiler so that it will go on even if I’m not at home?
The electric hot water heater is second biggest user of electricity in the home next to your source of heat.  Water heater timers are devices that provide automatic control of electric water heaters. You can save energy and cut down significantly on your electricity bill if you can identify the times of day when you use the most hot water and then adjust your lifestyle to utilize cold water for things like washing your hands, rinsing off dishes, and washing the car. Energy savings are derived by reducing the on/off cycling a water heater normally does to maintain the water temperature and by the reduction in heat loss associated with a water tank losing its heat to the atmosphere.  If you have an electric water heater, the U.S Department of Energy estimates that you can save 5-12 percent of your energy costs by installing a timer that turns it off when you are not using hot water. 

Electric water heater time switches provide automatic control for electric water heaters. They provide to-the-minute accuracy in programming and time keeping. The time switches can be programmed for repeat daily scheduling, 5-day working week scheduling, weekend scheduling or any individual day scheduling. Timers can be scheduled for operation during the lowest time-of-day rates or to switch off the electric heater during period of utilities peak power usage.

Water heater timers can be purchased at home improvement stores for $35-$55 and generally require an electrician to install.

Benefits of using electric heaters
Electric space heaters are typically used when the main heating system is inadequate or when central heating is too costly to install or operate.  In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in one room.

Although most space heaters rely on convection (the circulation of air in a room) to heat a room, some rely on radiant heating; that is, they emit infrared radiation that directly heats up objects and people that are within their line of sight. Radiant heaters are a more efficient choice when you will be in a room for only a few hours, if you can remain within the line of sight of the heater.  They can be more efficient when using a room for a short period because they avoid the energy needed to heat the entire room by instead directly heating the occupant of the room and the occupant's immediate surroundings.

When buying and installing a small space heater, follow the following guidelines:
Be sure to purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater has the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label attached to it. Choose a temperature controlled heaters, since they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room. Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Locate the heater on a level surface away foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away the heater.

Tips on saving electricity?
Saving electricity doesn't just save money, it also saves the environment. When you plug something into the wall, it seems clean enough -- you don't see or smell any pollution, like you do with your car. But the pollution is there -- it just happens at the power plant. Most electricity is generated by burning coal and other fossil fuels. Every time you turn on the lights, you create a little pollution. Saving electricity doesn't just put money in your pocket, it helps keep the air and water clean, too.

Here are some sample saving ideas:
  • Use a space heater to heat only the rooms you’re in (rather than a central system that heats the whole house), and turning off the heat when you’re not home.
  • Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioner.
  • Turn off lights you’re not using.
  • Use a clothesline or laundry rack instead of a dryer.
  • Sleep your computer when you’re not using it.
  • Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot or warm.
  • Turn off a single 100-watt light bulb, running constantly.
  • Replace top-loading washer front-loading washer.
  • Replace 1992 fridge with newer, Energy Star model.
  • Fill your dishwasher efficiently and limit the times you run it.
  • Put in a programmable thermostat which will keep your house at the right temperature day and night. Programmable thermostats can reduce cooling and heating bills up to 10% because they lower the heat or raise the air conditioning when you are not at home.
  • Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth and take shorter showers. This will not only save water, but it will also save the electricity that it takes to pump and heat the water.

How are amps related to wattage?

An Amp (ampere) is a unit of measurement for electrical current flow.  A Watt is a unit of measurement for electrical power. The relationship between current (Amps) and power (Watts) is generally not well understood. The power (Watts) generated or transmitted by a system is directly proportional to the current (Amperes).

Can a child get a shock frm putting a key or screwdriver into a wall outlet?
Certainly. This is why the 2008 NEC requires “tamper Resistant” receptacles to be installed. There receptacles attempt to prevent foreign objects being inserted into the slots. A normal plug will press into all slots at once, resulting in normal connection to the outlet. If a child attempts to put something into one slot, there is a guard blocking the slot.

What causes lights to randomly dull or brighten?

If light dim momentarily when appliances such as washing machine or refrigerator comes on,  there is a possibility that  too many appliances are connected to one circuit breaker.  This can be easily checked by  turning off the circuit breaker associate with the appliance to see whether dimming light also turns off.  Regardless, the issue should be investigated and corrected to prevent overload and damage to the electrical circuit.

In case all the light in the house dim or get brighter, the problem might be caused by a loose or bad connection in the circuit breaker panel; it may also signal a problem with the main utility line that runs into the home

Please contact us to schedule an appointment. One of our experienced electricians will thoroughly inspect the electrical circuit to detect any writing problems. If it’s convenient, the electrician can correct the problem while he’s on site.

Is it a fire hazard to leave a bathroom ceiling vent fan running?
Bathroom ceiling vent fans carry no warnings about continuous use. A fan in good condition, used in a good environment, will not heat excessively.

Electricity bill- costs more to keep fridge full or empty?
It costs more to keep the fridge empty. Once all of the items in a stocked fridge get cold, they help maintain that cold temperature.

How can I convert a 120V box to 240V for AC?
One of our skilled electricians will need to run a 220 line and have a 220 breaker and plug installed.

I live in an older home with Knob & Tube wiring. Is this safe?
Knob and tube (K&T) wiring is the original wiring method used from the late 1800s until approximately 1945. It is a system that involved stringing individual conductor insulated wire across porcelain insulators called “knobs,” and through other porcelain insulators called “tubes.”

Knob and tube should be replaced because the original wiring was designed to carry less electrical current than today's standard wiring.  In the 30's knob and tube was adequate for lights and electric circuits.  Today's air conditioners, dishwashers, and high current devices pull too large a load for knob and tube wiring to operate safely.  As the electrical load increases the old wires get hot and can become a fire hazard. If you have knob and tube in your home, consider finding an electrical contractor to replace it with a safer alternative.

Many insurance companies will not insure houses with unsafe knob & tube wiring and fixtures.  Usually insurance companies want to know the percentage of knob and tube in use, the quality or condition of the knob and tube wiring, and if it can handle the electric current or load passed through the wiring.  In addition, no insulation may be touching knob & tube wiring.  A certified inspector should be consulted when determining if these factors jeopardize the safety of your home.

How much electricity does an average American home use?
In 2009, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,896 KWh, an average of 908 kilowatt hours (KWh) per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,276 KWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 KWh.

If an appliance is turned off on does it still use electricity?
The stand by power, as the concept is widely known, refers to the electric power consumed by electrical appliances while they are switched off.  Below chart illustrates energy consumption for select devices, which is based on Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory Summary Table.  More information can be obtained directly at http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html.

Stand by energy consumption
Product Watts
  Avg. Min. Max.
Air Conditioner 0.9 0.9 0.9
Coffee Maker 1.14 0 2.7
Copier 1.49 0 2.97