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3 simple DIY updates to make your home safer and more energy efficient

(BPT) – At the height of summer when busy schedules are at their peak, it’s difficult to find time to cross home improvement projects off of your to-do list. But as the seasons change, it’s important to be mindful of best practices around the house when it comes to safety and energy efficiency.

From installing a new outlet in your living room to replacing a standard light switch in your kitchen, here are a few quick and easy DIY updates for important areas of the home that can be done in a matter of minutes, giving you the checkmark satisfaction, as well as making your home safer and more energy efficient:

Improve Outlets
An estimated 51,000 fires each year are caused by electrical malfunctions, resulting in nearly 500 fatalities, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). And according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), arc-faults are “the principle electrical failure mode resulting in fire.”

Installing an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Outlet in living areas of your home can help prevent these electrical fires, especially in more vulnerable spaces like bedrooms. AFCI outlets help protect against a wide range of dangerous arc faults by interrupting power and reducing the likelihood of your home’s electrical system being the ignition source of a fire. Some AFCI outlets, such as Leviton’s SmartlockPro AFCI Outlet, also are tamper-resistant for added safety from electrocution or shock caused by foreign objects being inserted into the outlet.

Dim the Lights
Increasing energy efficiency can also be maximized in just the “flip of a switch.” By replacing your standard light switch with a dimmer in common areas where lower lighting levels might be desired — such as the dining room — you’re able to more closely manage energy usage and save money on your next electrical bill. Having dimmer switches over multiple lighting systems throughout your home provides you with the ability to control the amount of light where it’s needed, and where it’s not.

Choosing a universal dimmer allows for an easy transition and flicker-free operation with any bulb (LED or CFL). With home automation products becoming more and more attainable, some dimmers, such as Leviton’s Decora Dimmer/Timer with Bluetooth technology, even allows you to dim or time your lights from your phone for added convenience.

Air Filters
Increase energy efficiency in your home while also taking steps towards safety and fire prevention by ensuring that your air filters are clean. With clean filters and fans, generators don’t need to work as hard, therefore requiring less energy consumption. A dirty air filter clogged with dust and residue will not only increase your energy consumption, but can pose a fire hazard: Overworked fans and generators can easily overheat. And, filters heavy with dust can loosen from their security, causing them to fall onto the energy source of a heating, ventilation or cooling system which can start a fire.

With these DIY home improvements that can be wrapped up in a weekend, you’ll save time and money when tackling that end of summer to-do list. It’s important to recognize that every season comes with its own best practices for ways to keep your home safe and energy efficient, and electrical improvements are always effective ways to check a few off of your list. For more tips on home improvements that promote energy efficiency and home safety while saving you time and money, visit