Fall brings all sorts of things - the need for turning that heater back on and bundling under more blankets, pretty fall colors that beckon us outside before it's too chilly, and sometimes even a pressing need to make a few updates in your home before you are resigned to spending more and more time indoors as late fall and early winter start to rear their at-times ominous heads. When it comes to electrical upgrades for your home, there are plenty of things to consider, and each homeowner will likely approach these decisions and this season differently. You have different priorities, different needs, and quite frankly, different equipment than your neighbor, the house down the street, or the house two towns over. So how do you know which electrical upgrades might be wisest for you? Well, we always recommend speaking with a certified electrician whom you trust, but here are a few ideas that might help make that conversation, and ultimately those decisions, a little easier.

Smoke and CO Detection

You should check your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors regularly to make sure they are working properly, as they're a critical part of keeping your home and your family safe - especially this time of year, when the ovens are on more often as you break in your baking recipes again and prepare for approaching holiday meals and family get-togethers. Don't forget to replace your batteries first - that might be the only thing needed, if your detectors aren't working properly. If your smoke detectors are old or not operating as you would like, it might be worth an upgrade. Newer equipment may be more reliable and offer a higher standard of operating, if manufacturer quality standards have changed over time. Carbon monoxide detectors have a limited lifespan (typically 5-6 years), make sure that yours are still good to go.

One other important thing to check here is whether or not you have enough smoke detectors and CO detectors in your home. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you have a smoke detector in every bedroom, outside of each sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement. Carbon monoxide detector recommendations are similar. Be sure to locate a detector near equipment such as your furnace and water heater, or gas-fired dryer. And of course, we recommend having one near the kitchen as well. Be sure to strictly follow all manufacturer instructions regarding detector location, installation and inspection/testing to the letter. The quicker you can be alerted to a fire or CO risk in your home, the greater chance you have of getting your family to safety.

Holiday Decor Prep

If you like your front lawn to look like a Griswald family Christmas, it's time to make sure you have all the electrical components and safety measures in place to make your wildest holiday decoration dreams come true, indoors and out. We've talked about this in the past, but here's a quick refresher.  For a bit more in-depth dive, see our article Practice Electrical Safety This Holiday Season! 

Make sure all of your light-based decorations are flawless - no cracks, exposed wiring, issues with insulation, etc. This is your first line of defense - if you spot an issue, don't hang up the lights! You could be putting yourself at a serious risk of fire or shock.

Do not exceed manufacturer recommendations for how many strings of lights to place together. Overloading is a serious issue and is entirely avoidable! This goes for pressing your luck with your outlets, too. You don't want to use the load rating of your outlets as part of a game to see how high you can push your holiday light limits - leave plenty of breathing room with the amount of amperage and wattage your decorations are pulling, making sure it doesn't come near the rated limit of your outlets - or your electrical circuits! (Ref. the home's breaker box, and maybe a call to your electrician.)

Outdoor decorations require extra care - make sure they are above ground, connected to GFI electrical outlets, and ensure everything is rated properly for outdoor use. If you're not sure how safe your setup is, consult your trusted electrician for that added peace of mind.

Electric Fireplace

If you feel the need for something cozy that provides fun ambiance, an electric fireplace might be the right choice for you - just make sure it's installed correctly before you start snapping those photos for the 'gram. This is often a style choice versus a great heating option for your home, as there are plenty of other gas and electric heating options for your home that can output more heat, more efficiently, but there's nothing wrong with adding an electric fireplace to a room that needs a cozy touch, stylistically, and a little extra heat. It can also be a good option for homeowners if the cost to install a gas-fired unit is prohibitive.

Safety Lighting

Exterior house lights that make finding your way home in less than ideal conditions a little easier are a great addition to make before the weather turns nasty for the year. Installing lights like these can also keep you from slipping on that sneaky black ice in the dark. Your options here are many, including an increasing number of 'smart home' options that are programmable and can be controlled from your phone - meaning you don't have to leave those lights on all day - you can simply 'flip the switch' remotely when you are headed home, or set a timer so they're on every day by the time you or your loved ones get home for the day.  See our article Really? I can Turn My Porch on From Work?

Some of these electrical upgrades may make sense for your home right now, and some may not. If you're feeling a little clueless as to what's going on electrically in your home, we recommend setting up an annual inspection with a trusted service provider, who can provide answers to many of your questions. We offer complete home electrical inspections and assessments, and an annual visit can be put on our calendar ahead of time to fit your schedule. A great bonus for our annual heating and cooling maintenance customers is that they also receive an annual assessment visit from one of our electricians as part of their plan. (And a plumber, too!). Let us help you make informed electrical decisions for your home, more in tune with your needs and your lifestyle, and helping to ensure your home's safety and comfort. In Denver, Boulder, and surrounding areas, give us a call today.