Electrical Info & Energy Efficiency

This is unofficial advice given neighbor to neighbor; accuracy is not guaranteed, and any work on a unit should be done by licensed professionals with proper permissions from the building management.


Each apartment is individually metered.  The electrical panel in your apartment does not have a main shutoff circuit breaker.  The meter (and main shutoff for your unit) is in the south west utility closet near the freight elevator on your floor; this door should be locked.  You will never need to get access to the meter unless you completely replace your electrical panel; an electrician can do all other work from within your apartment including replacing circuit breakers.  Most if not all of the wiring for your apartment goes up from the panel over the ceiling of the utility closet and then in the ceiling of the coat closet branching out from there.

The oven is on a 40 amp breaker, the dryer and your hot water tank are on 30 amp breakers.  There are 20 amp breakers which are used by your heat pumps and electric heating.  All your lighting is on 15 amp breakers.  The outlets in the dining room and living room are on a 20 amp breaker; this is fine and typically used in business applications.

Current code for kitchen outlets is for them to be on AFCI breakers or outlets.  This was not code when the building was converted to apartments so you may or may not have the outlets properly coded.  Outlets in the bathroom and laundry room require GFCI/AFCI rated outlets; recommend you regularly test these using the test button or testing tool.  The button may not work properly.  I found one of my GFCI outlets wired incorrectly and was not working properly.  I have since replaced it.

Energy Efficiency

All your energy usage is through your electrical usage.  Depending on your lifestyle, your water heater and heat pumps will usually draw the most electricity.  You can reduce your energy consumption by many means but programmable thermostats for your heat pumps and an efficient water heater will go a long way in reducing your bill.  

Residents have used Nest, and Ecobee thermostats with success.  If your thermostat has the capability, it would be good to run your heat pump’s fan for about ten minutes after the heat pump disengages so you can get the benefit of the heat or cold from the unit depending on the season.  The fan and heat pump should engage together when activated.  

Some residents have installed hybrid electric heat pump water heaters with success; these water heaters can be up to 4 times more efficient than standard electric water heaters.  Before installing a hybrid electric water heater, recommend you talk to a resident who already has one.  Consider replacing the pan under the water heater when you get a new water heater as it is likely to have rusted, particularly if you have seen moisture there.  

—Bill J.

More Energy Info from Bill (summer 2022)

I had Village Electric come out to do a few jobs for me. I wanted to pass on more information about how the apartments are wired or at least how they were originally wired. 

1)  Each apartment once had an old style intercom which communicated with the front door and the connection was made on the wall which is not a right angle in the entrance to each apartment.  In my case the prior owner just slopped joint compound on top of the box.  I discovered the box when repainting the wall and cleaned it up putting a cover over the box.

2)  Each bathroom has wiring separately to the fan and light in each bathroom which is/was connected to one switch.  If desired, the faceplate of the box can be replaced and two switches installed so that the fan and the light can be individually turned on (an easy job for a professional electrician).  This is nice if you want to have the fan on and not the light and vice versa.

3)  All the wiring from the circuit box goes over the ceiling of the adjacent closet and then turns the corner in the ceiling of the hallway of the first floor.

4)  Since the apartments were wired in 1980, the code has changed a lot since then.  There are some things I recommend to everyone.  They are:

     a)  The outlets in the kitchen need to be on AFCI circuit breakers for safety.

     b)  The outlet in the laundry room should be GFCI.

     c)  The GFCI outlets in the bathrooms should be checked and replaced.  In my case, the GFCI outlets were very old (probably original, 1980) and in fact didn’t work anymore.  GFCI only lasts 15-25 years and can fail after 5 years.  2022 – 1980 = 42 years.  There should be no original GFCI left in the building.

The GFCI/AFCI are not going to prevent fires or anything but they will prevent accidental shock.

One thought on “Electrical Info & Energy Efficiency”

  1. Thank you for the information on circuit breakers. I have heard of Arc Fault Interrupters being installed in bedrooms, but not kitchens. I believe it was instituted as code in bedrooms in the late 1990’s, then it was removed as code, not sure where it stands now or if it is different for individual towns. The idea behind AFCI’s was to prevent fires related to wiring issues. When I was renovating an older home, I was happy to get the extra protection they provided, not cheap but worth it. I think the originals tripped a lot causing a nuisance i.e. If you removed the cord from the socket, it could trip. Technology may have improved.

    I am in the finishing stages of redoing my kitchen and am curious about this. My understanding of building codes is that this is the bare minimum, you can always go above and beyond code.
    I just learned about the Duel Function CAFCI/GFCI, it handles series, parallel, and ground faults. It is my understanding that anytime there is water nearby, then a GFI (GFCI) is an absolute must, (Kitchen, bathroom, laundry room) so this Duel Function alternative might be a good choice, I will let you know what I find out.

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