Keep Your Home’s Lights Safe and Save Money

September 15, 2011
Children doing homework

Be sure to light your home the right way.

Electric lights are such a fixture of our everyday lives that we really don’t give them much thought. But every year, more than 28,000 residential electrical fires cause an estimated $1 billion in damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). So those simple lighting projects deserve a little more attention.

According to the USFA, many electrical fires are the result of faulty electrical outlets and wiring. Bad cords, plugs and switches are other culprits. That’s why the best time to think about lighting is when you’re having it installed. Doing it properly can help prevent electrical fires.

For example, make sure your electrical circuits can handle the kind of lighting you’re installing. This is usually best left to a professional—especially if you’re putting in outdoor lighting, which must be installed even more meticulously to address weather challenges.

If you’re dealing with existing circuits, especially in an older home, have them inspected for bad wiring or other defects, especially if your lights flicker for no reason or your light switches are hot. And when you buy light fixtures or other electrical products, look for products tested by a recognized authority, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Also, be careful about cords. If a lamp cord is worn or frayed, replace the cord or the whole lamp. Extension cords are another potential safety hazard, particularly outdoors. Be sure to use only exterior extension cords for outdoor lighting.

Saving on Bulbs
Once you’ve got your wiring and lighting squared away, it’s time to think about light bulbs. Although compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) may cost a bit more to buy, they’ll save you money in the long run. To see how much more, use this calculator.

If you go with CFLs, choose the right bulb for the job. Not every CFL will work in every socket or every fixture, so read the packaging carefully.

Do You Rent? If so, you should find out how Nationwide renter’s insurance may help you protect your belongings from unexpected problems. Then talk to your agent about the best policy for your situation.

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