“Dirty Power” is a term used to describe the inevitable situation in which your home’s electrical system receives a flow of electricity different from what it “expects.”
Unless it has faulty or malfunctioning equipment, your utility company sends out a “clean,” smooth stream of electrical power. But by the time the appliances and devices in your home are through with it, that power is generally “dirtied,” either by upstream customers whose homes are in front of yours on the power grid, or (more commonly) by the things in your own home that make life easier and more enjoyable.
Appliances, electronic devices, even certain kinds of light bulbs don’t use power “as is,” or exactly the way it comes into your home’s system from the utility company.
They modify it.
They interrupt the flow, turning the power to the device or fixture on-and-off (sometimes many times a second) as a way of increasing efficiency and reducing the overall amount of electricity used.
But, while energy efficiency is generally a good thing, a consequence of all that manipulation of the electrical stream is the dirtying-up of the power supply in the home. “Noise” is created in the system.
Enough dirty power could create electromagnetic Interference, or even health-threatening electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your home.
Here are five things you can consider doing to reduce the “dirty power” problem in your home:
- Get it measured. This is the first thing you should do, and one your qualified electrician will be happy to help with. Using a dirty power meter, your electrician will assess how significant the problem is in your home. It might not be that bad. But if it is, it’s usually a simple matter of installing dirty electricity filters In your home to reduce the “noise” and minimize (sometimes even eliminate) any problems or risks associated with dirty power. It’s usually pretty affordable. And in the long term, the solution is almost always far less expensive than the problem.
- Choose appliances and devices wisely. If you’re looking at two different brands of appliance, and research shows that one brand is superior to the other in terms of smooth use of electricity, consider that before you make the purchase. Otherwise, try to minimize your use of devices that are known to dirty the power in your home:
– Dimmer switches for your lights
– Video game consoles
– Microwave ovens
– Hair dryers
– Battery chargers
– TVs and computers
– Printers and scanners
– Fluorescent lights
– WI-FI devices
– Common appliances such as variable-speed blenders and fans
These devices can be great… but if you don’t need all of them, see if you can trim the list in your home.
- Consider going “old school” on light bulbs. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs are all the rage these days, and for good reason: they do use less electricity. But it’s a trade-off. They create dirty power. If the dirty electricity in your home is more of a problem than your utility bill, think about switching to incandescent or LED bulbs (though some LED brands are better than others for minimizing dirty power generation).
- Maybe your “SMART” meter isn’t your smartest move. SMART meters are great, again, for reducing the overall power usage in your home… but they can be a major source of dirty power. Can you replace your SMART meter with an analog meter?
- Turning things off can be a turn-on. Some things haven’t changed since the days before dirty power became so prevalent in American homes. “Turn off what you aren’t using” is still good advice.
You don’t have to live with a dirty power problem. Consider these five solutions, and consult your qualified electrician for ideas specific to the needs of your home and family. It’s great to “go green” – but sometimes, it’s even more important to “go clean.”