Getting Smart with Standby Power/Smart Strips

Our lives are full of electronic devices—at home, at work, at school and on the go. There are microwaves, coffee makers, computers, sound systems, gaming consoles and cell phones.  While some of these may be added for our entertainment, most also add convenience to our lives. However, the extra energy that is being used every year on these items may not seem so convenient. It’s true! These electronic devices are probably costing you money even when they are turned off!


According to, the average household spends about $100 per year on standby power. Standby power is the energy that is used by a device when it is turned off but still plugged in. Standby power can be useful when it powers remote control sensors, clock displays, cordless phones, and other items. If you have a device that doesn’t need to be turned on quickly or isn’t needed for the clock display, then you have an opportunity to save money and energy. A smart strip detects when the control unit is off and shuts down power to peripherals like DVD players and printers. Purchase a smart strip and start saving money today!

The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power offers a program called Energy Smart and you can receive a $10 SMART STRIP REBATE or call 1.877.674.7281 for more information.


Think Safety When Operating a Generator

A generator can be a valuable piece of equipment to keep appliances working during a power outage. Generators can be either temporary or permanently installed.

A permanent generator is wired into a house by a qualified electrician using a transfer switch that prevents a generator from feeding electricity back into overhead lines, which can be deadly for linemen.

A temporary generator is powered by gasoline and should not be attached to a circuit breaker, fuse, or outlet. Before ever purchasing a generator you need to know the wattage required to run the appliances you will attach to the generator. You also need to know the surge power, which is the power it takes to turn an appliance on.

Once you have purchased the proper generator, follow these tips from the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power to properly operate your generator:

  • Read and follow all manufacturer operating instructions to properly ground the generator. Be sure you understand them before hooking up the generator.
  • Never operate a generator in a confined area, such as a garage. Generators can produce numerous gases, including toxic and deadly carbon monoxide. They require proper ventilation.
  • Generators pose electrical risks especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Protect the generator by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot form puddles or drain under it. Always ensure that your hands are dry before touching the generator.
  • When you refuel the generator, make sure the engine is cool to prevent a fire, should the tank overflow.
  • There should be nothing plugged into the generator when you turn it on. This prevents a surge from damaging your generator and appliances.
  • Be sure to keep children and pets away from the generator, which could burn them.
  • Shut down the generator properly. Before shutting down a generator, turn off and unplug all appliances and equipment being powered by the generator.
  • Remember maintenance between uses. It is also a good idea to inspect the fuel and oil filters, spark plug, and oil level and fuel quality, and to start the generator on a regular basis before an emergency situation occurs.

We partner with Safe Electricity visit for more electrical safety tips.

Use Mylar Balloons Safely

Reunions, birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries—outdoor celebrations are about spending time with friends and family, recognizing accomplishments, and creating a festive atmosphere with food, music, and decorations. These decorations can include Mylar balloons. Grand Haven Board of Light & Power wants you to know about the potential dangers of Mylar balloons so that you and your loved ones can safely enjoy outdoor celebrations.

Mylar balloons are shiny, metallic balloons, which are often filled with helium. The shiny coating is a good conductor of electricity. If a balloon comes in contact with an overhead power line, it will cause a surge of electricity. These surges cause electrical arcs, explosions, and fires. This creates a dangerous situation for people and can cause power outages that require expensive repairs.

In 2011, one Philadelphia woman experienced the danger of Mylar balloons first hand. According to Fox 29 in Philadelphia, the woman walked out of her home and found her car on fire in the street. The fire was so hot it turned rocks around her car into glass. The blaze started when a power line fell out of place because of a Mylar balloon.

In California, Mylar balloons are so frequently involved in widespread blackouts that state legislators considered banning them in 2008. Pacific Gas and Electric Company reported that in 2010, more than 800,000 Californians experienced outages because of the balloons.

With a little care, you can avoid the disastrous aftermath a Mylar balloon can cause. Follow these tips from Grand Haven BLP when using Mylar balloons:

  • While using balloons, keep them weighted down or tethered far from power lines.
  • When you are done, deflate the balloon and throw it away. Do not release Mylar balloons.
  • Never tie a Mylar balloon to a person’s wrist.
  • Do not attempt to retrieve a balloon, or any object that becomes entangled in electrical equipment. Contact the BLP Emergency Line at 616.842.2241 to help remove the balloon.

To see a video of what happens when a Mylar balloon comes in contact with overhead power lines, and watch Kyle Finley’s Live Line Demonstration visit

For more safety tips on Mylar Balloons visit our partner