Office Spaces of the Future

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In the next few years, many cubicle dwellers around the country can look forward to going to work in more open, bright, and welcoming workplaces.

Lighting upgrades save companies money with more efficient fixtures and bulbs, and ActOnEnergy rebates. However, a hidden benefit is that an office lighting upgrade can increase productivity by enhancing visual  comfort, reducing fatigue, increasing work accuracy, and maybe even reducing absenteeism caused by  headaches.

According to the 1999 Steelcase Workplace Index survey, 6 out of 10 office workers experience some form of glare that could be reduced by more appropriate lighting sources.

 

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Toolbox Talk: Bicycle Safety

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Bicycle accidents are becoming all too common in our community.  Illinois Prairie Electric, Inc. cares about this issue not only because we ride bicycles, but because our employees encounter them on roads, in parking lots, and near job sites while driving.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind out on the roads this Spring:

Be aware of driveways that cross sidewalks. This is a common place for bicycles and cars to not see one another.

Don’t follow bicycles too closely. Bicycles can stop more quickly than cars, and damage to the smaller vehicle is often catastrophic.

Be cautious in residential neighborhoods. Bicyclists like to use quiet streets, so if you don’t stop completely before a stop sign, you risk hitting a silent vehicle in the intersection.  Look for cyclists and traffic before opening your door. When in motion, be aware of bicycles moving to the left to avoid the door zone directly adjacent to parked vehicles.

Finally, the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook states that motor vehicles must give bicycles at least 3 feet of space when passing.  Even with this guideline, riders are still being clipped by passing side mirrors.  Go one step further and give bicycles respect and distance—the same courtesies you would give to slow-moving farm equipment.  When passing, give them the full lane.  If it is not possible to pass safely, slow down and wait until it is safe.  This applies to urban and rural driving.

As more people become concerned about sustainable transportation and healthy living, there will be more bicycles on our community’s roads, sidewalks, and trails. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration writes that bicycles are “a legitimate form of transportation and bicyclists are legal drivers of vehicles” that have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles.

 

The Tool Library Leads the Way for Local Home Improvement

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Have you been thinking about some home improvement projects for this Spring, but don’t feel like you have the tools and resources needed to get them done?

A new organization started by Matthew LaLonde called The Tool Library offers hundreds of tools available for checkout. They are located at 800 W.   Washington Street in Bloomington, at the same location as the West Bloomington Revitalization Project.

In fact, community tool libraries like this have been cropping up around the country to help homeowners improve the look and value of their homes.

You can browse their inventory at http://www.thetoollib.com.

If you would like to become involved in The Tool Library’s mission, there are a number of ways you can contribute.  Every Wednesday from 3 to 5pm you can donate old tools you no longer use.

Here is The Tool Library’s Wishlist: aerator, air compressor, auger (both 1 and 2 person), carpet cleaner, cement mixer, concrete saw, cordless drill, dual sliding compound miter saw, floor buffer, floor sander (drum, edge, and orbital), hammer drill, paint sprayer, palm random orbit sander, power washer, scaffolding, table saw, wet tile saw, wheelbarrow (steel better than plastic), and drywall lifts.

Volunteers are also needed during the library’s hours of operation, and monetary donations can be made via their website.

As of April 29th, 2013, The Tool Library won a grant of $25,000 from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program.  LaLonde says that the funds could be used to purchase more tools and move to a new facility where there is more space.

Home improvement projects can improve the look and feel of a whole neighborhood, and as Matthew LaLonde says, they can give homeowners profound feelings of independence and dignity.

*Images used in this article were obtained from The Tool Library website and Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

Wiring Historic Buildings

McLean Co. Courthouse

Interest in preserving historic buildings is growing as they represent a large part of who we are and where we come from. Historic preservation can require innovation and creative solutions to maintain the architectural integrity of the building yet bring it up to the 21st century. 

Many buildings are structurally sound and while updating them can be a challenge, there are many rewards.  Our expertise includes state-of-the-art lighting      controls and innovative lighting design that takes advantage of the natural light so prevalent in historic spaces, and enhances architectural features.

States throughout the country are also developing or adapting codes for renovation of existing historical buildings, so that public safety is maintained but not full compliance to the existing code.

In the photo above, Terry Gaddy displays his workmanship in the dome of the historic McLean County Courthouse, which now houses the McLean County Museum of History.

Here at Illinois Prairie Electric, Inc., we think it’s important to rehabilitate buildings to make them more efficient, safe, and suited to their new purposes while maintaining their historical integrity.

Toolbox Talk: Dressing for Work Outside

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It’s February and you still have a few outside projects that need to be completed on your honey-do list, but, gee it’s cold outside! Before you head out the door, make sure you are dressed for the weather.   It may look nice from inside your house but looks can be deceiving!  Here are some tips on what to wear to keep you safe and warm.

Start from the inside out.  Insulated underwear and 2 medium weight socks are a good place to begin—2 medium weight socks are much better than 1 heavy pair.  The next layer begins with a long sleeve shirt—preferably wool—and a pair of pants that fit.  Pants that are too baggy or too long can cause you to trip or get caught on something.  Should you need a belt be sure to run any extra length through  remaining belt loops; this could save you from getting pulled into the piece of machinery you are working with. Next you will need a heavy duty pair of shoes with a thick sole, not your summer flip flops or your worn out tennis shoes with holes in them.

Finally a warm hat, work gloves-with no holes, of course, and a warm jacket that fits.  You might want to check for tears or dangling pieces to prevent your jacket from getting caught on something.

This may seem like a lot of prep work before even going outside, but if it saves you from one accident or frost bite, it is well worth the time. 

Now that your list is complete outside, take a minute and check any exposed skin for frost bite when you come back in.  If you see any skin that appears slightly flushed at first and then becomes white or grayish-yellow, you may have frost bite.  Warm the area slowly in cool water—do not rub with snow or your hand.   If you continue to have problems contact your physician.  Keep warm and keep safe!

 

The Lowdown on Light Bulbs

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Here at the IPE office, we’ve been collecting articles on the phase-out of incandescent lamps and the lighting technologies that will replace them.  Here they are for your reference! 

Read the Label: Inform consumers about new lamp labeling

LEDs Are Everywhere: Light-emitting diodes and the Code

Going Into Effect — an article on the 2012 phase-out of 75W incandescent lamps.

Sylvania’s 4th Annual ‘Socket Survey’ Finds Americans Aware of Incandescent Phase-Out — Statistics on American attitudes towards the incandescent phase-out and new lighting technologies. 

Change lightbulbs: Spotlight on lighting tech

Efficient Lighting Technologies

Toolbox Talk: Step Up Safely

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Time to drag out the ladder and complete those last few outdoor maintenance items before the winter sets in, but before you start to step up on that ladder, take a moment to make sure it is safe. 

Ladders are the biggest hazards of overhead work and proper ladder maintenance and ladder use are a must. 

There are a variety of ladders available 4-16 foot step ladders, single-section ladders from 8-20 feet, and extension   ladders from 12-60 feet, but up keep and safety is the same for them all.

Check to make sure all of the nuts and bolts are tight, the rungs are secure and spreaders work.

 Ladders need to be free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards and most of all if parts are broken replace them!

Before you begin choose a ladder that is appropriate for the work you are doing, that does not conduct electricity and one that is able to hold the weight necessary to complete the job.  Positioning your ladder is your next   concern.  Never set it up on a slick surface, but on a firm, level surface and be aware of all electrical wires and over head      clearance in your work area. Next to ensure side rails are supported, use a ladder pad to prevent slippage and   protect the surface it is leaning against. 

Now you are ready to begin!  Take time to make your equipment safe and keep yourself safe and remember call Illinois Prairie Electric, Inc. for all your indoor and outdoor electrical needs.

New Switches for Added Convenience

Replacing a light switch can update the feel and functionality of your home in surprising ways. 

One homeowner we interviewed said that every room in a house should have a dimmer switch.  Think about it—dimming the lights down when you light candles for your bubble bath can add just enough light to even out the room.  A dimmed light in a bedroom or living room can give you the feel of a soft, warm glow in the evening.  These aren’t your parents’ dimmer switches either—the touch of a button gradually brings the light level up to your pre-set limit, and a sliding mechanism next to the button works just like a conventional dimmer switch. 

Are you tired of getting out of bed to switch the light off?  Forget the “Clapper” and the dusty lamp on your bedside table.  There are now many switches that include remote controls, so that you can sink down under the covers and darken (or dim) the room with a remote control. 

A switch with a motion detector can make your bathroom light and/or fan switch on when you enter the room.  Small children don’t have to stand up on a stool to reach the switch, and it’s one less place to collect germs in flu season.  A high-traffic restrooms or common areas in an office setting can also benefit from a motion switch.  It can save a lot of electricity.

Whatever your needs are, the Illinois Prairie Electric, Inc. office can provide you with photos and fact sheets of the best and newest products for your home.

 

Visit Lutron's website for a catalogue of attractive and functional dimmer switches for any application. http://www.lutron.com/Products/StandAloneControls/Dimmers-Switches/Pages/DimmersSwitches.aspx

Springfield Electric Supply Company Shows how Dimmers can Save EnergyLutron Manufactures a wide array of dimmer switches and controls. Click to learn more. http://springfieldelectric.com/lightingcontrols.aspx

 

EV Charging Comes to McLean County

By the end of 2011, the town of Normal expects to purchase and install 33   electric vehicle charging stations. 

Jeff Pritts, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal EV Task Force and general  manager of the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference center, says that he would like to see our community become “a true ‘EV Town.’”

As more drivers invest in what they believe to be the vehicles of the future,  businesses and private employers throughout the community are becoming more interested in installing EV charging stations at their facilities. 

The Pantagraph reported that nearly 1,000 electric vehicles are expected to be in use by 2014. 

To help play a part in making our community’s transportation more         sustainable, Illinois Prairie Electric now offers and installs electric vehicle   charging stations designed for residential, commercial, and public applications. 

The PowerGen EVSE from Milbank is available with single, dual, and quad ports.

Visit http://www.ipelec.biz/evcharging for more information and videos on EV charging stations.

Central Boilers Reduce Heating Costs

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Winter heating costs may be far from everyone’s mind right now, but November will roll around before we know it. 

Last year, IPE team member Brian Gaddy installed a Central Boiler heating system at his home in rural Lexington.  He uses it to heat water that is then circulated through his home.  Many types and sizes of untreated wood can be burned in the Central Boiler unit, and it pays for itself quickly through heating oil savings.  Even in very cold weather, Brian only needs to add fuel to the    Central Boiler once a day, at most.  

Heating with renewable fuels like wood is not only good for the planet, but helps your household to be independent from foreign oil. 

Videos and pictures of Brian’s Central Boiler may be found at the IPE company Facebook page here, by visiting http://www.ipelec.biz/centralboilers.html, or by calling the main office at 309-275-7749.