|Electricity was leaking all over the house.|
(With appreciation to James Thurber).
• If I turn the thermostat way up, will my house heat up faster? Alas, no. The typical thermostat is more like an on/off switch than an accelerator; it’s activated by a bimetallic spring that responds to changes in temperature. Since it can’t do any more than turn the furnace on or off, setting the thermostat to 90° won’t heat the house any faster. However, if your furnace has a variable-speed blower (not all do), it may push the warm air a little faster than normal.
|Yes, even the fanciest new thermostat|
is still basically just an on/off switch.
|A refrigerator works by transferring heat from the inside|
to the outside—where these radiator-like coils dissipate it
into your kitchen (most newer refrigerators have the coils
|A ground fault circuit interruptor|
may not look like much, but
it can save your life.
The inconvenience and frequent misuse of fuses brought us the circuit breaker. It’s essentially a switch that serves the same purpose as a fuse, except that when it “blows”, you simply reset it—hopefully after correcting the condition that made it trip.
GFCIs, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, are amazing little electronic devices that might save your life someday. Suppose you decide that, in order to save time, you’re going to blow-dry your hair while you’re still in the tub. Oops! You dropped the hair dryer in the suds! Fortunately, the GFI-protected receptacle you wisely installed in your bathroom senses that 120 volts is about to take a little road trip through your body, and within milliseconds, it shuts of the current. Relatively cheap (especially compared to being dead) and amazingly effective, GFI protection is now required by code for any receptacle within 6’ of sinks, lavatories or other water sources, as well as in garages and at outdoor receptacles.
|Arcs from frayed lamp cords can and do cause lots of fires,|
which is why building codes now require AFCI-
protected outlets in bedroom.
• And by the way, although electricity doesn’t leak out of an empty light socket, you can still fry yourself if you stick your finger in one—so keep a bulb in it for safety’s sake.