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How to take the heat out of the bill for running your office air conditioning

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Most modern workplaces have air conditioning these days.

It allows businesses to regulate the temperature for employees, ensuring health and safety standards are met. It also allows office equipment to be cooled when necessary and provides a welcoming atmosphere for visiting customers.

Running air conditioning can cost businesses hundreds of pounds a year, though.

On an average electricity tariff of 15.41p per unit, the cost of running an air conditioning unit for eight hours a day for 90 days per year can vary from £75 to £326, depending on the size and power you need.

In an office, you may want to run your air conditioning for more than 200 days a year, which would more than double that cost.

As the warm weather of summer beckons, here are a few basic things you could be doing to help reduce that bill:

  • Keep your office windows and doors closed – it costs more to run a unit and it is less effective if windows are opened, for example.
  • Set your air conditioning to as high as is comfortable then use a programmable thermostat to increase temperature when no one is in the office. That could save you up to 10% on your bills.
  • Try to maintain a consistent temperature. Don’t be tempted to turn the temperature right down when you walk into a room – you may well forget about it and spend more than you need. It also isn’t as effective as maintaining a constant temperature when people are in the office.
  • Maintain your systems. Ensure filters aren’t blocked – cleaning them once a month could reduce energy consumption by between 5% and 15%. Make sure the evaporator and condenser coils are also clean. Keep trees and shrubs away from outside units.
  • Turn computers off at night. If your office has large numbers of them, that could be adding to the heat in your workplace.
  • Close blinds and shades to prevent heat building up from sunlight. This also protects workers using computer screens from glare.

Do you need advice on electrical installations, maintenance, or repairs in your office?Call our experts on 0845 003 6856. Find out more about our commercial services here: /commercial-services/.



3 key ways a maintenance contract with an electrician could save your shop money

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If you have a busy retail outlet, the last thing you need is a problem with your electrics.

It could mean you having to close your doors to customers because your till and card readers don’t work or your lighting has been affected.

Finding a good electrician at short notice is often difficult. Most of us are booked up weeks or months in advance and you could face a substantial bill for a short-notice call-out from anyone you do find is free.

So, the best answer for you may well be a regular maintenance contract. That way, you’ll know you have a reliable, qualified electrician on call to deal with any problems you face.

A contract could also save you money in the long term. How? Here are three important ways:

It reduces the time your business is closed/affected by loss of power

The longer you have to spend finding or waiting for an electrician, the more money your store is losing.

How much would a day’s closure affect your takings? On a busy day, that could be thousands of pounds in trade lost. There’s also no guarantee that prospective customers won’t go to one of your rivals – and continue going there for some time afterwards.

A contract electrician picks up problems before they become larger and more expensive

If you have a regular maintenance contract, your electrician can diagnose and solve problems before they become more complicated. That, of course, means that they can be dealt with before they become expensive issues rather than everyday headaches.

It saves your staff time on surveys

Every business needs to survey its electrics regularly to ensure wires aren’t frayed, sockets aren’t damaged or overloaded, appliances have been properly PAT tested, and that there are no fire risks.

A maintenance contract means a qualified and experienced electrician would be carrying out inspections, picking up issues your staff may have missed. Your staff are also freed up to deal with your customers. It’s a win-win situation!

Thinking about an electrical maintenance contract for your shop? Call our experts on 0845 003 6856. Find out more about our commercial services here: /commercial-services/.

7 avoidable electrical fire risks in offices

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Would your business survive a fire at your office?

For most owners, a fire would be a costly setback which their businesses could ill afford.

You can reduce the risk of a fire at your premises by avoiding seven key problems:

1.  Overloaded plugs – this can cause plug sockets to burn out and spark, and that can ignite plasterboard walls or material around it. Check the amp rating of the items you’re plugging into one socket to ensure it doesn’t exceed the safe level. Some items will need a socket to themselves.

2.   Damaged wiring -  regular inspections will ensure your electrical wiring isn’t damaged by wear and tear or rodents. Damaged wiring can cause a short, and sparking can ignite material around it. Check for hot plugs or sockets, fuses being blown regularly, or tripping circuit breakers.

3.   People bringing in non-PAT tested appliances – without PAT testing, how can you know if a device someone has brought in is safe to use? Kettles, microwaves, lamps, fans, and laptops all need to be tested to ensure they don’t pose a fire risk.

4.   Computers left on all night – leaving computers running all night does increase the chances of an electrical fire, particularly if the computers are older. It also hikes your electricity bill!

5.   Chargers for laptops and mobile phones left plugged in for long periods – this can increase the risk of fire, especially if the chargers being used are cheap replacements. There have been instances of such chargers causing fires.

6.   Overloaded extension cords and plug adaptors – these have a limit to the number of amps they can take, so check the rating. Generally, they are 13A or 10A. Don’t exceed that maximum rating.

7.   Incorrectly-fitted lighting or wiring – this can cause serious problems, from increasing the risk of fires to risking your staff getting shocks or burns. Anyone who carries out electrical work at your premises should be a registered electrician who has the knowledge to ensure the work is safe and carried out to a good standard.

Need help with inspections, installations, repairs, or maintenance work at your office? Call our experts on 0845 003 6856. Find out more about our commercial services here: /commercial-services/.


How to get the right electrics for your new home office

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Setting up a new business from your home is an exciting time.

There’s so much to think about. You need to decide if you’ll be self-employed, in a partnership, or registering a limited company.

You need to get your business plan in order, sort out finance, and decide how you will reach your customers.

You’ll also need to decide where you’ll be carrying out your work.

For most home-based businesses, a home office is the way forward.

You need somewhere dedicated to work, somewhere on which you can close the door at the end of the day.

You don’t want your new business to overwhelm your home!

Your new office may be a spare room, study, or a garden room.

One important thing to consider is ensuring you have the right electrics for your new home office.

What do you need to consider?

What equipment will you be using? Most home offices have at least one computer or laptop, a printer, phones, internet connections, and points for phone charging.

Designers and photographers may need light boxes, some businesses may need other equipment such as overhead screens – useful for traders to monitor currency and stocks, for example.

For those starting a craft business, you may need equipment which needs electricity like soldering irons.

What lighting will you need? Alongside overhead lighting, you will probably need a desk lamp. Will you also need spotlighting for crafting or artistic work?

Where will your desk be situated? Look at the layout of the room and the natural lighting and decide where your desk should be. You need to ensure computer screens and other VDUs don’t suffer from glare from windows or overhead lights.

Will you need to move your broadband router? Some houses, especially older ones with thick walls, have Wi-Fi dead spots. Try your laptop out in your new office before you move in to ensure you get a usable signal.

Where will your electrical points and data cabling points need to be placed? Once you have the site of your desk, this should become clearer.

A good electrical engineer will help you design the layout of points to best suit your needs.

If you have a garden office, do you need extra cabling outside? Your garden office may not have any electrics in there at all, or its older electrics may need a total re-wire. Do you also need a fire alarm or security system for it? Get a proper survey to ensure you’ll be safe.

Looking for an engineer to install your home office electrics? Call our expert team on 0845 003 6856/ Find out more about our services here: /.


3 ways you could cut your office electricity bill

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For every savvy business owner, ensuring costs are as low as possible is one of the best ways to maximise profits.

One of the key areas you could look at is reducing the amount of money you spend on your electricity bill.

Here are three wonderfully simple ways your business could save money:

1.      Switch to LEDs

One of the best ways to get long-term savings is to swap your incandescent lightbulbs for LEDs.

How much you’d save depends on your tariff and how often you use your lighting. But as an example, if you have an office with 25 lightbulbs, on for eight hours a day for five days a week, and you pay 10p per KWH, swapping them for LEDs would save you more than £490 in a year and more than £2,400 over five years.

That’s a substantial saving which factors in the extra cost of buying in LEDs which are more expensive to buy than incandescent bulbs.

Not only would you be saving money, you’d also be reducing your business’ carbon footprint. In this example, you’d reduce your CO2 output by almost 13,400kg over five years.

As they emit little heat, they also help you reduce your air conditioning bills. It’s win-win!

2.      Switch off computers at night

This is great for energy saving and office health and safety.

How much you save depends on how old your computers are. Generally, the older they are the thirstier they are for electricity.

Unless your computers are performing tasks overnight like a virus scan or backup, there’s no great reason to leave them on.

If you have dozens of computers in an office, the cost of leaving them on can soon add up – even those with power-saving features.

When it comes to charging laptops, check whether your laptop has apps which perform functions while charging. If so, charging overnight will be more expensive than charging for an hour or so in the day.

3.      Get up-to-date thermostats for your air conditioning and heating systems

The latest programmable thermostats can save you money – if you use them correctly.

Programme the thermostat to turn down sharply at times when your staff are not in the office, such as at weekends or overnight.

That could save you between 10% and 30% on your electricity bills.

You’re far less likely to save money if people are constantly tuning the thermostat up or down. Programming a consistent temperature for times when your staff are in the office will help avoid that.

Are you a business in South Wales or further afield looking to save money on your bills?

Call our friendly team for advice on 0845 003 6856. Find out more about our commercial services here: /commercial-services/.



Why getting the right lighting is so important for bars and restaurants

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For service businesses like restaurants, bistros, and bars, the customer experience is king.

While most of us think about the food, drink, and service from waiting staff as key things which make up a good customer experience, few of us would think about the lighting.

Yet, that is an unsung hero of creating a wonderful ambiance for diners and drinkers.

Get the lighting right, and you will enhance your customers’ dining and drinking experience.

Get it wrong, and you could put your customers off and drive them away.

Who is your clientele?

It’s important to know who they are to ensure you get the right lighting design.

Are your customers mainly hipsters in their twenties, couples in their forties, or families with small children?

Each of these will have different needs from the lighting in your restaurant or bar.

Families will need a lighting design which allows children and perhaps elderly people to see menus clearly.

Couples will be looking for lighting which creates a romantic mood.

Use lighting to create zones

You can use soft, romantic lighting to create intimate areas perfect for meals for two.

If you’re creating sociable areas where people will be mingling and talking in larger groups, provide lighting suitable to that environment. You could choose to use white lightbulbs with a subtle colour to differentiate that area.

Lighting can also signpost drinkers toward the bar by making it subtly lighter than surrounding areas – encouraging sales.

Certain areas will be thoroughfares. Ensure they are well lit and create a safe path through your premises.

How can lighting increase sales?

In restaurants, you may well want diners who are happy to linger over their meals, ordering more wine or desserts.

Lighting which allows diners to see the full appeal of their food while being warm and welcoming helps restaurants achieve that goal.

You can use lamps or spotlights to accentuate richly-coloured drinks at the bar, or to highlight the meals when they arrive on diners’ tables.

If you’re a fast food restaurant looking for a quick turnaround in diners, you could choose to make the lighting bright and use colours like red and orange. Subconsciously, that encourages people to eat more quickly.

Are you a bar or restaurant owner in South Wales or the South West of England looking for expert help in lighting design and installation?

Call our friendly team today on 0845 003 6856. Find out more about our commercial services here: /commercial-services/.



Getting the right data cabling is vital for tech businesses

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Installing new data cabling for your tech business is a long-term investment.

So, you should ensure you get the best return on that investment. You need to get the best data cabling installers for your project.

Here are some important questions to ask when you’re looking for electrical engineers:

Will the engineers work with your IT department to design and install the system?

You need engineers who understand your business needs. Tech businesses live or die by the speed of their internet connections and the reliability of the cabling in their offices. You can’t afford to have breakdowns which cost you lucrative contracts.

Your engineers must work closely with your IT support department, whether that’s in-house or outsourced, to ensure you get what you need from the design of your system.

They must also work together to ensure installation goes smoothly.

Have the electrical engineers installed systems for businesses like yours before?

It’s always a good thing if engineers have worked in your sector. That means they understand it. It helps them anticipate problems before they occur.

What sort of testimonials do they have?

If their testimonials praise their speed, efficiency, and flexibility, rather than just praising the price, you’ll know quality is important to your electrical engineers.

As your engineers if you can speak to some of their previous customers. Good companies will be happy to arrange that.

Will they be installing the best quality cabling?

Reliability is king for a tech business. So, you need the best quality cabling you can afford. Many installers are accredited with manufacturers and have years of experience in working with their products.

What do you need?

Category 5 or 6 data cabling – This provides a single infrastructure which connects your computers and telephone systems in one network. It’s usually based on copper cabling which conforms to the category 5 or 6 standard for structured cabling.

Fibre optic cabling – As a tech business, it’s also worth considering whether you need this cabling. This is very useful for connections between servers.

Ethernet – This cabling carries broadband signals between internet-capable devices. Ethernet can cope with all the speeds needed for internet use.

Data points – Working out how many you need could be tricky for a growing tech company. It’s best to build a little growth into the equation from the start, installing a few more data points than you need rather than getting your engineers back in six months at extra cost.


Are you looking to install data cabling in Cardiff, Bristol, or further afield? Talk to our expert engineers about what they could do for your business. Call 0845 003 6856.

Find out more about our service here: /data-cabling/.


Make light work of revamping your chandeliers, shades, and lamps


With January and February’s long nights, we notice the lighting design in our homes more than at any other time of the year.

It’s the perfect time to think about refreshing our light fittings.

If you’re looking to shed a little light on the interior trends for 2017, here are our top tips for the fashionable items in our homes this year:


Light fittings inspired by nature

We’ll be seeing chandeliers shaped like calla lilies, light fittings inspired by leaves, twigs, and feathers.

Influences from the flowing lines of Art Nouveau inspired by grasses, flowers, and other plants, will be seen throughout interior design this year.


Geometric chandeliers

They’ve been bubbling under the radar for the past few years, but 2017 is going to see the trend become widespread.

Some will be inspired by Art Deco, 1930s Hollywood movies, and glitz.

Others will take 1950s and 1960s shapes like the Newton chandelier by Boca do Lobo.


Gold-finished lamps

There’s be a glamorous look to interiors in 2017. Alongside sheepskin rugs, silk throws, and rich jewel colours, there will be a trend towards burnished, gold decorations on objects like lamps.

Watch out for gold leaf embossed lamp bases, both round and stick shaped.


Naked bulbs caged in metals

Naked bulbs have been a trend in recent years. This year, we’ll see more of them in metallic cages, especially copper, steel, and distressed, aged metals.


Lights with cork details

Yes, we did say cork! Not since the 1970s has cork been so popular in interior designs – on floors and walls.

Designers have been combining it with other natural materials to create a look devoid of cork’s naff Seventies history.

2017 will see lights with cork detailing becoming very fashionable.


Sculptural floor lamps

Many will be geometric in design, taking their inspiration from modern art. Expect to see corner lamps features 1960s-style pods attached to a single metal pole. Groovy!


It’s also a great time to ensure the safety of your lights and switches.

If you need help revamping your lighting – with design, installation, or maintenance – we’re here for you!

Call our friendly team on 0845 003 6856. See what we can do for your home here: /domestic-services/.


Is it time your office scrapped ‘the lightbulb everyone loves to hate’?

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Here’s one thing many office workers hate with a passion: fluorescent strip lights.

The light they give off is harsh and feels unnatural.

It can seemingly take an age for them to turn on.

When something goes wrong, they flicker and buzz annoyingly.

There’s a recognition in light manufacturing that fluorescent strip lighting is loathed by many.

General Electric’s GE Lighting division stopped manufacturing fluorescent bulbs at the end of 2016, concentrating on LEDs and halogens.

Its Chief Operating Officer John Strainic told reporters a fluorescent bulb had become “the light bulb that everybody loves to hate”.

Mr Strainic said they had become crowded out of the marketplace by incandescent bulbs and LED lightbulbs as LED technology becomes cheaper.

There are now several LED strip bulb alternatives like the GE Bright Stik and some LED alternatives can mimic daylight.

Industry insiders are waiting to see if other major manufacturers follow GE’s lead.


So, if you still have fluorescent tubes in your office, what can you do?

Research the cost of replacing them. LED replacements will cost more to buy than fluorescent bulbs, but they are cheaper to run, last longer, and will be a good investment in the long term.

Look at the lighting design in your office – could your lighting be used better?

You can design offices to create distinct spaces even within an open-plan environment, and one of the key ways you can do that is by using effective lighting in different areas.

A conference area might benefit from targeted downlighters or a central feature light, a kitchen area will need brighter lighting than an informal rest area.

Fluorescent lighting can also cause glare problems for people using equipment like computers or light boxes – could your new design diffuse the light for those workers?



Looking for bright ideas for your office lighting design? We can help – we design, install, and maintain commercial lighting in South Wales and beyond. Have a chat with our friendly team on 0845 003 6856 and check out our services for commercial clients: /commercial-services/.




Is saving cash on your energy bills your New Year resolution?


There’s a simple way you could be saving money in 2017.

Now’s the time to look at switching your traditional incandescent lightbulbs for LED bulbs because you could make substantial annual savings on your energy bill.

Energy experts estimate that if you swap out 10 100-watt non-LED bulbs for 15-watt LEDs, leaving them on constantly for 10 hours a day, seven days a week, you could save more than £300 a year, even factoring in the cost of buying the new bulbs.

Over five years, that’s a potential saving of more than £1,500.

That would also save more than 1,600 kilos of CO2 going into the atmosphere in a year, reducing your carbon footprint.

If those bulbs were on constantly for four hours a day, seven days a week, that could still be a net saving of more than £120 a year and more than £600 over five years.

How much you can reduce your bill depends on your deal and the tariff your energy company charges, but for both householders and businesses installing LEDs could prove to be a substantial long-term saving.


How do LEDs work?

LEDs are light emitting diodes.

They’re used in may electronic products like alarm clocks, watches, traffic lights, and television screens.

They come in the smallest sizes making tiny points of light in TV screens to the size of lightbulbs.

The light they produce comes from the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material – something which conducts electricity like aluminum-gallium-arsenide.

Electrons move across ‘holes’ in the material, attracted from areas with extra negatively-charged particles towards areas with extra positively-charged materials.

This movement generates light as energy is released.

Unlike an incandescent lightbulb, there is no filament which burns out, so LEDs last thousands more hours than incandescent bulbs and far less heat is generated.


Why are LED lightbulbs cheaper to run than incandescent bulbs?

The heat generated by incandescent lightbulbs is wasted energy.

In LEDs, a much higher percentage of the power is being used to generate light. So I takes less power to run them.

The effectiveness of how bulbs light a room is measured in lumens. Traditional incandescent bulbs produce 17 lumens per watt. LEDs produce 77 lumens per watt.


Why are they popular now?

In the past, the cost of producing LEDs made lightbulbs using them too expensive for widespread use.

Since 2000, however, the price of the materials used as semiconductors in LEDs has dropped markedly, so they have become much cheaper to produce and buy.

Even though they are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, the fact they last far longer means they are a good long-term investment. They have a lifespan of 50,000 hours or more. That’s 25 times the lifespan of a halogen bulb.


Looking for an electrician in Cardiff or South Wales to give you expert advice or a no-obligation quote? Check out what we can do for businesses /commercial-services/ and domestic customers /domestic-services/ or call us on 0845 003 6856.









How to slash the cost of running your Christmas lights


Are you tempted to turn your home into a Christmas grotto? Are you holding back because you’re worried about the electricity bill?

Some families love lighting displays on their roofs, trees, windows, garages, and on standalone items like light-up reindeer, snowmen, and Father Christmas.


These days, though, we’re all concerned about the impact on our bills and on the environment.

A display of thousands of lights with traditional lightbulbs can cost more than £170 to run for a month, the Energy Saving Trust has warned.

It says that powering kind of display can also produce enough carbon dioxide to fill 140 telephone boxes.


How can you save money on your outdoor Christmas lights display?

Swap your traditional, incandescent bulbs for strings of LED lights. They use up to 90% less energy than traditional light bulbs.

To replace a 60 watt bulbs, you need 6W LED lights. According to research by Comparethemarket.com, a single 60W incandescent bulb costs, on average, £26.65 to run for a year if left on for 10 hours a day at an average price of 12.2p per kilowatt hour – that’s 0.07p per day.

Replace that with an LED, and the average annual bill becomes £2.66 – or 0.007p per day.

Running 1,000 incandescent 60 watt lights for a 10-hour day would cost around 70p. Running 1,000 LED lights for that day would cost 7p.

Running 1,000 LED lights for the 12 days of Christmas for 10 hours a day would cost £1.10.

How much you’d pay depends on the wattage of your bulbs, how long you leave them on, and your tariff.


Across a large display, however, the decision to use LEDs could slash the cost of running your lights dramatically. It also cuts the impact on the planet in greenhouse gases.

Consider installing solar-powered lights for the garden displays, instead of powering them from your mains. They use photovoltaic panels to gather power during the day to keep your lights twinkling at night – with a zero running cost.

Does your electricity tariff give you cheaper energy at certain times? It’s worth checking before you decide on when your switch-on times should be.

You could also choose to limit the times you switch on to weekends or just a few nights a week.

Think about where you place your lights. You may not need as many to make an impact if you place them carefully.


How to save cash on your indoor display

Swap your incandescent tree lights for LEDs to cut the running cost.

If you’re worried about the bill, keep your strings of lights to your tree, or one place in your home. You can use reflective decorations to maximise their impact and hang other decorations like holly, ivy, baubles, or oranges studded with cloves in other parts of the room to make it feel festive. 

Need help with your domestic lighting? Do you need an electrician in Cardiff? Check out our services here: http://www.sonikelectrical.co.uk/domestic-services/