Electrical fires are very common and a threat to the safety of a haunted house. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, in the United States, 50,900 fires each year are attributed to electrical failure or malfunction, resulting in 490 deaths and 1,440 injuries. Arcing faults are a major cause of these fires. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that AFCIs could prevent more than 50 percent of the electrical fires that occur every year. About 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others. Here are five things to consider regarding the electrical practice in a haunt.
5. Having a plan is very important. Electrical mistakes are easy to make and often become an issue when builders are in a hurry and/or don’t create an electrical plan ahead of time. This is especially true if multiple people are creating scenes within the haunt. It is possible for each person to create a scene and then look for the nearest plug to bring their scene to life. This can lead to power failures. A circuit chart demonstrating that the load on each circuit does not exceed the breaker amperage should also be completed.
4. Every outlet in the haunt should be tested with a simple three pronged tester that lights up to indicate that they are wired correctly and working properly. All of the building outlets should be securely mounted with proper covers. All of the 120v outlets should have the ability to accommodate three prongs. Grounded GFCI outlets must be used any scene that has moisture, such as dry ice or mist.
3. It’s best to use LED lights within all the special effects lighting in the haunt. LED lights don’t get hot and use about 3 watts to produce 60 watts of light. To prevent fires, be sure not to place cloth or untreated props near the lights.
2. All extension cords must be UL Certified, a minimum 12 gauge with two prongs and a ground. Cutting off the ground (3rd prong) from plugs, 2 pronged lamp cords, and/or 3 pronged to 2 pronged adapters is not allowed.
1. It is important to create a “power station” so that all of the power can be turned on and off from one location in order to control the lights and sounds. The house lights should also be accessible from that station to turn on lights in case of an emergency. The switch for this station should be rated to handle the load applied to that switch. Commercial power cords and commercial power strips that have their own power switch should be used to get electricity to run from the power station to the various scenes. Small, household extension cords are not recommended for haunted houses, even if they’re home haunts. The power station should also have a fire extinguisher, duct tape and a flashlight nearby as well as an emergency plan posted.
Choose an architect who understands low energy efficient house design
Minimize Your Heat Loss:
- Be sure that builders are aware of the low energy aim of your house
- Choose tradespeople that have both knowledge and experience in energy efficiency
- Remember many architects/builders don’t go beyond minimum building standards and regulations but minimum isn’t the most efficient.
Maximize Your Solar Heat Gain:
- Keep your house plan simple and compact – A house that is compact and without extensions will have less heat loss due to the reduction in the external walls and roof area. Remember that single storey houses such as bungalows lose more heat through the roof than two or three storey houses where the rising heat is used throughout the levels before reaching the roof.
- External walls should have high level insulation
- Ensure there is good controlled ventilation and draught-proofing
- Your architect can provide energy calculations of expected annual fuel bills
Install Energy Efficient Heating And Hot Water System:
- Build along the East West axis – An energy efficient house will capture the free energy from the sun to heat your home and water. Ideally where possible choose a site where your house can face the sun (external blinds can prevent overheating in the summer months) and be sheltered from prevailing winds.
- Houses in the northern hemisphere should locate most windows on the south side with reduced window size on the north side, and vice versa for houses in the southern hemisphere – Most windows should face the sun side to benefit from solar gains. However, some windows will have to be on the non-sun side to enable good daylight in all the rooms in your home.
- Kitchens and breakfast rooms are mostly used in the mornings, so for houses in the northern hemisphere a south-east orientation will take advantage of the morning sun. For houses in the southern hemisphere then a north-east orientation will take advantage of the morning sun.
- Halls, stairs and bathrooms can be located on the side that doesn’t get much sun as there are less frequently used.
- Locate living rooms and main bedrooms on the sun facing side
- In two storey houses consider having your bedrooms on the lower level (cooler for sleeping) and your living rooms on the upper level further reducing your heating requirements as upstairs gets warmer
- Use the sun’s energy
- Wind Turbines can take full advantage of wind power generation
- Heat Pumps use the sun’s energy – all renewable energy systems are complementary to an energy efficient house design
- Renewable energy systems
- Solar heaters
- Use a condensing boiler if using gas or oil
- Install easy to use controls
More information on these can be found at the Home Heating Systems and Solutions site.
Consider Thermal Mass
Windows And Conservatories
- The percentage of heat loss from a house is approximately:
- 42% Roof
- 12% windows
- 12% Unblocked chimneys and draughts around doors
- 24% walls
- 10% Floor
- So when thinking of building an energy efficient house understand that installing insulation at the build stage is the easiest and cheapest way of improving your homes energy efficiency.
- You can upgrade standard timber framed walls by using 140mm studs instead of 90mm studs – this will allow you more insulation. Masonry cavity walls can be improved by being filled with polystyrene insulating foam and by using lightweight thermal blocks.
- You should have at least 250mm of loft insulation, 100mm of insulation between the joists and 150mm of insulation laid across the top. Loft conversions require careful attention especially if dormer windows are installed but a high standard of insulation can still be achieved.
- Heat loss from the floor varies with different floor types. However, ground floor insulation is pretty easy. Generally a 125mm layer/sheet of polystyrene is used this size will be increased if installing underfloor heating to minimize heat loss.
- Ensure insulation overlap between elements, e.g, between the wall and loft/roof cavity
- Ensure air gaps such as wall cavities are clear of debris that can bridge therefore compromising the insulating air gap
- Make sure fibre insulating materials are not compressed (packed tightly) as this will undermine its ability to properly insulate
- Make sure that all insulating materials are kept dry
- Be sure to seal all holes where services such as water and gas pipes enter your home
- You’re always going to lose more heat through windows than through walls especially single pane windows. To minimize heat lost through windows ‘Low-E’ coated double glazing should be installed in all new houses.
- Double glazing does not only reduce heat loss, it also offers some sound insulation. With double glazing the two panes are generally vacuum sealed. However, you can get argon-filled units (gas filled), and triple glazing which are well worth considering if you can afford them.
- Conservatories can save you a little energy by acting as a buffer between the adjoining wall by trapping the heat from the sun, thereby reducing the heat loss from the room separated by the adjoining wall. To be effective, conservatories should be located on the sun facing side of the house and preferably not overshadowed by trees or other buildings.
- Conservatories correctly placed should not require any permanent heating, but the doors that separate the house from the conservatory should be double glazed and shut when not in use.
Efficient Home Heating
- A well insulated house is a low energy consuming house meaning that energy efficient house heating requirements are lower than a similar sized house which is poorly insulated.
- Your heating system should take into account:
- Fuel source and availability
- The time you will spend in your home – quick or slow response systems
- Construction material – timber framed houses should have responsive heating, such as radiators or air heat pumps, as the timber retains less heat than concrete, for example
- Underfloor heating systems are not suited for houses built from lightweight construction materials, like timber frame, because of their slower heating response
- You can have hydronic underfloor heating (wet or water based) systems combined with radiators. These are usually designed with the underfloor heating downstairs and radiators located upstairs.
- Tiled solid screed floors work the best with underfloor heating. If you prefer a softer floor finish rather than tiles you should consider rugs rather than fitted carpets for better heat transference/output within the room.
- Renewable energy systems such as heat pumps and solar heating are perfectly suited for energy efficient house designs.
- Ventilation is an important aspect not to be overlooked as it provides both fresh air and removes stale air and moisture. Removing moisture prevents bacterial growth thus maintaining a healthy living environment.
- Kitchens must have extractor fans or passive stack ventilation (PSV). PSV works using the principle of ‘rising’ warm air carrying stale air up and out.
- Mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery do offer filtered air and a reduction in noise intrusion as windows can be kept closed. However, unless you are using a renewable power system such as photovoltaic (PV) or wind turbines, then the power required to run the fans rules it out as a feature for an energy efficient house. Also, for a heat recovery system to work efficiently the house must be well sealed.
- All rooms should have trickle ventilation – allowing air to come in at a trickle rate to provide required room air change rate per hour (ACH).
Lighting and appliances
- These should be low energy rated (low-wattage) saving you money in running costs and helping the planet by reducing CO2 emissions.
So now you can save the planet and save yourself running costs by building an energy efficient home.