Charge up Your Electrician's To-Do List

by The Contractor Files

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When it comes to big repair and remodeling projects, you probably turn to a professional electrician to do the job right. Many electricians charge a trip fee for each visit and an hourly service fee—even if the job takes much less than an hour.

Next time you call an electrician, consider using the time—and your dollars—to the fullest. Ask your pro to take on additional smaller tasks that will improve home safety, comfort and convenience. Consider the following ideas:

Review electrical service
Have your service evaluated, especially in older homes with outdated 60-amp service, but also in newer ones where standard 100-amp panels may be overtaxed by modern household electronics.

Upgrade old outlets
Change existing outlets to ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, which improve safety by automatically shutting off in an emergency.

Install new phone jacks
For added convenience with phone and computer technology needs, have a new phone jack installed.

Add a dimmer switch
Replace a toggle switch with a dimmer switch, which allows you to easily adjust light levels for different needs.

Install under-cabinet lighting
Install under-cabinet lighting to brighten your kitchen, home office or family room.

Add a programmable thermostat
A new programable thermostat can cut energy bills by 15 percent or more.

Install an exterior outlet
An exterior outlet eliminates the unsafe practice of running an extension cord from an indoor outlet.