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The Smart Financial Center is Opening!

Posted: January 13, 2017

And Pieper couldn’t be happier! We’ve been working on Sugar Land’s brand new performing arts center since December of 2014 to install electrical infrastructure — including specialty color changing lighting throughout the facility and DMX lighting control, as well as fire alarms, structured cabling, security-cameras and access control. The new facility’s size exceeds 200,000 square feet, including multi-level seating and a basement, presenting an enjoyable challenge! The Smart Financial Centre will be kicking off its impressive 2017 line up with a celebration starring Jerry Seinfeld on Jan. 14. Make plans to check out a show this year, and the lighting!


The Better Step: Preventative Maintenance

Posted: March 31, 2016

Just like skipping your annual physical, it can be tempting to not call your electrician until a problem arises. However, that approach, called reactive maintenance, isn’t always the best course of action. A strong preventative maintenance program can save money by reducing the number of equipment failures you face and keeping your facilities running at optimal levels. It can also help keep costs within budget by allowing property managers and engineers to better anticipate and schedule any needed updates or replacements.

Reactive Maintenance
Pros:

  • Lower initial cost
  • Lower employee cost

Cons:

  • Increased cost due to unexpected downtime
  • Higher labor costs, especially if overtime is required
  • Unexpected manufacturing and shipping fees
  • Back-up equipment becomes stressed
  • Unhappy tenants

Preventative Maintenance
Pros:

  • Cost-effective in capital-intensive processes and equipment
  • Maximizes life of equipment and electrical system
  • Energy savings as equipment runs at optimum levels
  • Reduces equipment and/or process failures
  • Improved efficiency, due to scheduled downtime
  • Long term savings over reactive methods

Cons:

  • Risk of catastrophic failures reduced but not eliminated
  • Labor intensive
  • Initial higher cost

Keep your building running efficiently with preventative maintenance from Pieper’s service department. We maintain a range of facilities from stadiums, like NRG Park, to industrial facilities, like Alcon. During a maintenance check-up, we’ll come on site, assess the building and make recommendations on how to improve the electrical system. Because as always, Pieper is with you every step of the way.


Accidents Happen in an (Arc) Flash

Posted: February 29, 2016

Safety advancements along with new technology have reduced the number of arc flash incidents that occur each year. Unfortunately they still happen, often sending workers to the emergency room for care.

What is an Arc Flash?
According to OSHA, it’s “a phenomenon where a flashover of electrical current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground.”

What Causes an Arc Flash?

  • Dust
  • Dropping tools
  • Accidental touching
  • Condensation
  • Material failure
  • Corrosion
  • Faulty installation

Arc flashes are dangerous and can cause serious injury and damage. In addition to burning workers who are nearby, they can also send objects flying, including molten metal, and can easily cause a building fire.

Because of the serious risks associated with arc flashes, the National Fire Protection Association has laid out NFPA 70E, a guide to safety practices and procedures for the prevention of arc flash accidents. Among those practices are procedures are the use of personal protective equipment and clear labeling on equipment such as panel boards, switchboards and industrial control panels.

At Pieper, we’re here to guide you every step of the way, helping to ensure that you are in compliance with NFPA 70E and keeping your maintenance staff safe. Call our service department today to schedule an arc flash hazard analysis.

Jeff Hisaw
Service Department Director
713.875.5263 | jeffh@pieperhouston.com


Secret Savers: Tips for Office Energy Efficiency

Posted: January 18, 2016

As the temperatures continue to drop, it’s common for heaters, and with them electric bills, to rise. However, there are countless small steps that you can take to cut back on energy expenses. Here are a few simple ways to keep those bills from getting the better of you this winter.

Skip the Screen Saver
Screen savers certainly look nice, but they are actually a big energy waster! In fact, it can take as much as twice the energy to run a screen saver as it does for basic computer use. So this year, try skipping the screen saver and instead let your computer fall into sleep mode when you are not using it.

Unplug Before You Unwind
Did you know that an average of 75% of the energy used by electronics and appliances is consumed when they are plugged in, but not in use? That’s right! One of the easiest and quickest ways to save around an office is to not only turn off appliances, but to unplug them over weekends and holidays.

Printer Perfect
Everyone knows that printers are office essentials. What people are less likely to know is that the type of printer used can play a big role in your energy bill. Inkjet printers are much more efficient, using up to 90% less energy than their counterpart, the laser printer. Another easy change is to have all employees print to the same printer, meaning fewer printers to maintain and less energy used by printers that are on, but not in use.

Timed Right
Leaving lights on overnight and on weekends at the office can add more than $50 to your energy bill each month. One way to sidestep those charges is to install timers or motion sensors on lights around the office. This will ensure that you aren’t unnecessarily running lights when they aren’t in use.

Give Pieper a call to really amp up your energy efficiency at the office. We can make sure your electrical system is running efficiently, and help with other upgrades, like switching incandescent lightbulbs for significantly more efficient LED lights.


Deck the Halls

Posted: December 16, 2015

Let Pieper help make this holiday season bright!

With all the bright, twinkling lights and warm, powerful heaters, the holiday season can put quite a load on your electrical system. Whether you need a dedicated breaker for Christmas lights or a back-up generator for your heating system, Pieper will make sure you’re never left with cold feet.

Call us today for all your holiday maintenance needs!

From building a new business to maintaining an existing one, Pieper is with you every step of the way.


Happy Halloween

Posted: November 5, 2015

Pieper had a lot of little monsters running around this Halloween!


TAHFM Clay Shoot

Posted: November 5, 2015

Pieper had a great time at the TAHFM Clay Shoot with Duane Bennett from Emerus Health Care, Travis Hodges from Grace Presbyterian and Carl Biano with JE Dunn.


Steps Towards Safety: The Importance of Preventative Maintenance

Posted: August 25, 2015

It's midnight on a Friday and the ER is filled to capacity. In the midst of this chaos, there is a sudden whirring sound. Then silence. Darkness. The backup generators are not kicking in as planned…

Preventive maintenance (PM) is essential to any hospital's electrical maintenance plan. Electrical system failures, such as internal blackouts, directly impact patient care and drive maintenance and repair costs up. You can manage that risk and drastically reduce it, simply by maintaining a regular PM schedule. Here are some points made by David Stymiest in Health Facilities Management Magazine to bring home the value in PM:

  • Systems are 3 times more likely to fail - Hospitals that choose to forego regular PM, use a strategy known as "run-to-failure" maintenance and are three times more likely to fail, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • Loose electrical connections cause 25% of all electrical equipment failures - Sometimes loose from installation, other times from thermal expansion and contraction, loose electrical connections make up a full 25% of miscellaneous electrical equipment failures. Regularly checking connections can significantly reduce the risk of equipment failure.
  • Dust and dirt cause 30% of all electrical equipment failures - When dust and dirt build up inside equipment and become conductive, it can lead to future short circuits. Because it is so avoidable and causes an estimated 30% of equipment failures, a thorough PM plan should include regularly cleaning equipment rooms, checking for water and, if necessary, changing air filters.

Rewriting the Future of Trade Professionals

Posted: August 25, 2015

Currently experiencing a downswing in skilled workers, the construction sector is actively implementing strategies to better market professional and craft worker positions. One standout organization involved in changing the population's mindset is Construction Career Collaborative (C3), an alliance of owners, contractors and specialty contractors dedicated to addressing the issues facing the craft worker in the construction industry.

The C3 Focus

  • Craft Training - Improving on current craft training strategies and optimizing the educational tools currently available will help promote a well-educated group of craft workers.
  • Safety Training - Safety is at the forefront of everything in the construction industry. Through a standardized educational safety awareness course, C3 ensures safety and awareness will be the focus of every craft worker.
  • Industry Awareness - Educational seminars and hosted presentations educate key players in the construction industry on the benefits of creating a safe and effective work environment for the construction craft worker.

Through the research of different industry organizations, it's well-known that the missing piece in promoting industry training is the participation and support of company owners. It is up to the owner to mandate training and safety policies as well as encourage workforce development.

Pieper's management team is proud to be involved in the ongoing efforts of C3. Our strong safety awareness as well as our willingness to share our knowledge through training or educational seminars proves we're truly with you every step of the way.

Seek Shelter from Lightning Strikes.

Posted: August 14, 2015

The summer storms in Houston remind us that summer is the peak time of year for lightning strikes. Did you know that lightning is one of the top three storm-related killers in the U.S.? Every year, an average of 54 people are killed by lightning, according to the National Weather Service. Just in 2012, there have been 26 deaths to date.

Protect yourself, your employees and your family by remembering these safety tips:

  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before a storm arrives.
  • Do not hold onto metal objects. Large metal objects can conduct lightning, while small ones can cause burns.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing by not washing your hands, taking a shower or washing dishes, as lightning can pass through metal pipes.
  • Seek shelter in a safe building or vehicle, either of which should be fully enclosed. Unsafe shelters include: car ports, open garages, tents, sheds, golf carts or convertibles.
  • Avoid tall or high places, such as rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles and ladders.

Lightning can enter your building from a direct strike, via wires or pipes that extend outside the structure and through the ground. From there, it can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing and radio/television reception systems, so it's important to not touch such equipment to avoid getting shocked.

At Pieper, our licensed service technicians can help evaluate and protect your electrical system with a maintenance check-up to help you weather the summer storms.

Stay Safe during Storm Season.

Posted: July 14, 2015

Storm season is well under way in the Houston area. Rain and lightning alike have crashed down upon the city, increasing the risk of electrical fires due to downed trees and wires. While last year's drought has made us grateful for the rain, these powerful storms are not welcome news for your business.

Learning to recognize possible risks during and after a storm can significantly reduce the possibility of an electrical event at your business. We encourage you to read and share the following warning signs and safety tips with your employees to protect your facilities from preventable electric damage.

Reduce Electrical Fires with tips from the National Fire Protection Association

  • Recurring blown fuses or tripped circuits are indicators of electrical problems, and need to be inspected by a qualified electrician before the fuse is replaced or the breaker reset.
  • Getting a shock or tingling sensation when touching an appliance indicates a serious underlying issue. Unplug it immediately and discontinue use.
  • Outlets that appear discolored, warm or are sparking indicate the possibility of loose terminations or compromised connections and should be checked.
  • An overheating or malfunction appliance will often release a burning smell. Unplug it immediately or shut off the circuit breaker.
  • Lights that regularly flicker or dim are indicators of a dangerous underlying issues, such as loose connections or defective components, and need to be inspected to determine the reason.

If you experience any of these issues in your office or facility, it's vital that you contact a licensed electrician immediately to avoid an electrical fire. Pieper has an emergency staff on call 24/7 that can conduct a thorough electrical inspection of your system after an outage, and even perform a thermal infrared inspection to quickly diagnose all areas that may be compromised.

Let us help keep your company safe this summer. Call Pieper today to schedule an electrical checkup to make sure your building will be ready for a storm.


Pieper's Family Night with the Dynamo

Posted: June 12, 2015

Pieper employees along with family and friends enjoyed a night out at BBVA Compass Stadium, watching the Houston Dynamo take on the Portland Timbers. It was an exciting game with the Dynamo taking the lead in the 2nd half and ultimately winning 3-1.

The night began with 22 lucky Pieper children taking the players' hands and escorting the athletes onto The Dynamo field. Further fun was found inside the run tunnel, lined with 150 Pieper Players and kids giving the Dynamo high fives and taking photos as the Players took the field. After the game, the Pieper Player teams, Manchester United and Barcelona, played a close and exciting match on the Dynamo's pitch, ending in a 4-2 victory for Barcelona. Way to play guys!!

"At Pieper, we like to think that each of our dedicated employees, along with their individual families are an extension of our own family."
- George "Bud" Walters

"Thanks, Bud, for the good time we had out there on Saturday. Me and my family feel blessed to be part of this company. It was so amazing to see all the families together there at the stadium having fun."
- Julio Mejicanos


Come See Us at the BOMA Expo!

Posted: May 12, 2015

Stop by our booth at the Houston BOMA Expo, where we'll have fun giveaways and can answer questions about your building's maintenance needs.

When:
May 21, 2015
2 - 7 p.m.

Where:
NRG Center
One NRG Park
Houston, Texas 77054

We hope to see you there!


What's Better than Good Food and Great Friends?

Posted: May 7, 2015

Thanks for rocking out with us at the AGC 24th Annual BBQ Cook-Off! We hope you enjoyed the great food and had fun hanging with friends. Check out some of the highlights from the day!


Offering the Best and Brightest for Schools

Posted: March 27, 2015

When the bell for first period rings, students should walk into cool, bright and clean classrooms with good lighting, study materials and technology. Building and maintaining an environment that is conducive for learning (and teaching) can be a challenge. In fact, research shows that a facility's condition directly relates to absenteeism, teacher turnover rates and occupant health.

When building a new school, local school boards often face tight deadlines and strict budgets, while still needing a school building that is energy efficient and safe. Once the school is up and running, energy costs are the largest operating expense for school districts after salaries and benefits.

Recently those costs have increasingly strained their already tight budgets, and these constraints result in an accumulation of deferred maintenance, which eventually leads to higher energy costs and more equipment malfunctions.

The ABC's of Schools' Energy Consumption:

  • U.S. schools spend more than $7.5 billion a year on energy, which is more than they spend on textbooks and computers combined.
  • Schools spent around $130 per student on electricity in 2005.
  • Lighting represents about 26% of electricity consumption, not including its impact on cooling loads.
  • Office equipment accounts for about 20% of electricity consumption.

Having enough light, but not too much, is the most important lighting criterion for classrooms, according to the U.S. EPA's Energy Star program. Energy-saving lighting updates can save as much as 30 - 50% of lighting energy, plus 10 - 20% of cooling energy. It's all about choosing the right type of lighting that best suits the activity, whether it's reading, artwork, a lecture on a chalkboard or a multimedia lecture with a screen projection — all of which require different levels of lighting.

In addition, sometimes it can be tempting to focus on the lowest-cost energy-saving lighting updates with the fastest return on investment, but investing in higher-cost measures might be more beneficial and economical in the end.

Whether you need help designing the type of lighting for the various classrooms and buildings of a school or want guidance on the kinds of economical lighting updates that best suit the school, we can help.


LEDs Lead the Way

Posted: March 13, 2015

An important part of our everyday lives, lighting uses about 22% of all electricity generated in the U.S., according to Department of Energy statistics. It's no wonder that the DOE and efficiency supporters have promoted upgraded lighting technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce building energy consumption and costs.

In fact, a recent report by the DOE shows that LEDs are the most efficient and environmentally friendly option. when compared to incandescents and compact fluorescent lamps.

Let's compare:

  LEDs Incandescents Compact Fluorescents
Average life span 50,000 hours 1,200 hours 8,000 hours
Watts of electricity used
(Equivalent to 60 watt bulb)
6 ‐ 8 watts 60 watts 13 ‐ 15 watts
Annual operating cost
(30 incandescents/year equivalent)
$32.85/year $328.59/year $76.65/year
Turns on instantly Yes Yes No (takes time to warm up)
Durability Can handle jarring and bumping Glass or filament can break easily Glass can break easily
Heat emitted 3.4 BTUs/hour 85 BTUs/hour 30 BTUs/hour

Have questions about the pros and cons of each type of light? We are here to help, whether you'd like more information or want us to take a look at ways we can improve your building's energy efficiency.


The Bright Impact of Lighting

Posted: February 27, 2015

When you walk inside a historic church, how does the lighting affect your impression of the space? How does that experience compare to when you walk into an office building or a school?

Notice how the right or wrong lighting can change your experience or mood. Research has shown that the right lighting can improve people's health and overall performance, particularly in the workplace. A quality light program can boost performance, reduce fatigue and eyestrain and propel your business' opportunity for success.

Using new technologies to create energy-efficient lighting systems can not only increase productivity, but can also help your business save through lower building operating costs. Did you know that lighting accounts for approximately 40% of electricity use in commercial buildings?

That's why a simple change in the type of lights can make a big difference. Fluorescent lamps use 25 - 35% of the energy used by incandescent lamps to provide the same amount of illumination, while high intensity discharge (HID) lamps use only 10 - 25% of the lighting energy of the incandescent lamps they replace.

Consider replacing outdated items in your electrical system with newer, more energy-efficient equipment to realize greater savings on your energy bill. Need help determining where to start? Schedule a service call with one of our experienced technicians. We'll happily review your electrical system and discuss options to improve it.


Sound the Alarm: Causes of Fires in Commercial Buildings

Posted: February 13, 2015

As a concerned business owner, you continually evaluate the safety of your workplace and how to improve upon it. You often do not consider electrical systems, which have become safer and more dependable as a result of strict building codes, advanced technology, solid system design, professional installation and regular maintenance.

Still, electrical fires remain one of the biggest hidden dangers to a safe work environment. In fact, they continually rank in the top five causes of commercial building fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Though electrical appliances or systems can start a commercial fire, people are often to blame. Untrained and unknowledgeable individuals try to modify the equipment, committing electrical code violations and compromising the system. Misusing or overloading your electrical system can also cause fires.

Don't wait for the fire marshall to tell you about potential electrical issues. Have a qualified electrician regularly examine your building. Tampering with your electrical system can be dangerous, so make sure only trained, professional electricians perform routine inspections.

Pieper can help avoid such electrical hazards. Our state-of-the-art monitoring and recording equipment can help analyze the electrical system of your building (whether during a remodeling project or a maintenance check-up) so that we can catch potential issues and monitor your electrical system's efficiency.


The Electrical System: The Pulse of a Hospital

Posted: January 30, 2015

You've heard of the Hippocratic Oath, a sworn pledge taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals that they will practice medicine ethically. Their top priority is the welfare of their patients, whose lives often depend on medical equipment, which of course needs electricity to run.

Since electricity is the vital heartbeat of hospitals, the National Fire Protection Association and National Electrical Code require emergency sources of power, which must be able to provide enough light and power for life safety if normal service is interrupted. An emergency electrical system must restore hospital operations within 10 seconds of interruption of the normal service.

While the emergency system consists of circuits necessary for life safety and critical patient care, the equipment system is dedicated to parts for patient care and basic hospital operation. Both systems (and the equipment they will support) must be considered when building a healthcare facility.

For example, one hospital Pieper worked on encompassed an array of complex electrical systems, including those found in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI), Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other x-ray based imaging equipment. With Pieper's expertise, the facility was executed precisely and finished early.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

We design and install:

  • Electrical Systems
  • Fiber Optic and Data Cabling
  • Fire Alarm Systems
  • Security Systems
  • Access Control Systems
  • Energy Management Systems
  • Building Automation Systems
  • Nurse Call/Code Blue Systems
  • MATV/CCTV Systems

It's important to accommodate hospital's specialized electrical needs, and it's equally important to remember to maintain such electrical systems.


Lighting Updates Save Energy and Dollars

Posted: January 16, 2015

Did you know that, according to a study by Pikes Research, an energy-saving lighting update to your building can provide energy savings from 10% to more than 50%?

That's right! That's in part because lighting accounts for more than 40% of the commercial sector's electricity consumption, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. So if you're looking to save some green, consider going green by retrofitting your building with a lighting update or an addition of new technology to old equipment.

The first step to retrofitting you property and improving its efficiency is to analyze your building's current performance to get a benchmark. Using a power quality meter, technicians can check your electrical system to ensure all essential functions and capabilities are operating to standard, as well as determine if existing equipment is operating as efficiently as possible. With the ability to record the power data at your facility, technicians can then identify and record your building's surges, sags, voltage and amperage usage, pinpointing the potential problem to a specific piece of equipment.

By identifying the major sources of inefficiencies and energy consumption in the building, you can then prioritize and allocate money accordingly for an energy retrofit, which might include lighting upgrades, control system improvements and other upgrades.

A Perfect Fit

Here's why energy-saving retrofits are attractive:

  • Energy Savings
  • Greenhouse Gas Reductions
  • Energy Independence
  • Green Branding
  • Property Valuation
  • Productivity

Ready to go green? After analyzing your building's current energy consumption, Pieper will perform an energy-saving lighting update on your building — simply give us a call to get started.


Setting the Standard with NFPA 110

Posted: January 2, 2015

Whenever we hear thunder and watch lightning crack the sky, we all buckle down and await the brewing storm. As we watch the storm roll in, many of us run to check our junk drawers for flashlights and spare batteries, just in case there's a power outage.

What happens at your office when a power outage occurs? Do you find your way to those extra flashlights in the dark, or do you have a back-up power source that turns on? If you do have an emergency power system, do you know how often it needs maintenance or an inspection?

The most referenced standard when designing a system, NFPA 110, covers performance requirements for emergency and standby power systems that provide an alternate source of electrical power when a primary source fails.

A system consists of the generator set, over-current devices, transfer switches, conductors that interconnect the pieces and fuel storage. NFPA 110 details proper installation, maintenance, operation and testing requirements to ensure the system operates correctly and efficiently.

There are three categories of classification for emergency power supply systems: class, type and level.

Class: the minimum amount of hours the generator set can operate at its rated load without refueling. For example, equipment in class 48 can operate for a minimum of 48 hours without refueling.

Type: the maximum time, in seconds, from utility outage until the standby generator supplies power to the load. Type 10 means that the system must provide power within 10 seconds of a power outage.

Level: table 5.6.5.5 of NFPA 110 sorts the potential effects of failures into levels. Level 1, for example, is used when failure of the standby system could result in loss of life or serious injury. Level 2 includes failures that are less critical to a person's life and his/her safety.

All systems must be inspected weekly and exercised under load at least monthly, for a minimum of 30 minutes, to ensure proper upkeep. NFPA 110 also requires that circuit breakers be exercised regularly with EPS in “off” position. Breakers rated in excess of 600 volts should be exercised every six months and tested every two years under simulated overload conditions.

All systems must be inspected weekly and exercised under load at least monthly, for a minimum of 30 minutes, to ensure proper upkeep. NFPA 110 also requires that circuit breakers be exercised regularly with EPS in “off” position. Breakers rated in excess of 600 volts should be exercised every six months and tested every two years under simulated overload conditions.

Interested in learning more about this standard, or need to have maintenance, an inspection or testing performed on your building's electrical system? We'd be happy to host a lunch ‘n' learn at our facility or have one of our certified electrical technicians visit your building.


Transform Your Transformer

Posted: December 18, 2014

Do you know how long a transformer is meant to last? 10 years? 20? 30? 40?

The life expectancy is approximately 20 years, but rarely are transformers replaced for technical reasons only. Many transformers are retired because they become increasingly inefficient over time.

If the existing transformers are older, but are working with no apparent trouble, they are often still inefficient. By replacing them, energy savings can be realized. For example, in an average 13-story office building, replacing older transformers can yield more than $10,000 a year in electrical savings, based on 10 cents per kWh.

What is the best way to maintain your transformer? Schedule a survey of your building. With routine maintenance, inspection and testing, you can save money by making sure transformers operate at their peak.

When transformers are inefficient, they often fail without notice, and for reasons that could have been easily identified or prevented. To avert failures and get the most out of your transformers, it's important to look at reasons why they fail in the first place.

Common Causes of Failures:

  • Voltage Transients or High Voltage Spikes
  • Heat and Overloading
  • Loose Connections
  • Deterioration of Unit
  • Poor Workmanship
  • Moisture
  • Inadequate Maintenance

Not sure how old your transformers are or the last time they were serviced? Schedule a maintenance visit from Pieper, where we'll review your entire electrical system, including your transformers.


Holiday and Vacation Energy Saving Tips

Posted: December 5, 2014

Between office parties, gift exchanges and travel, the holidays can get expensive. It's also not unusual for electric bills to spike as we turn on our heaters and leave the holiday lights on around the clock. But believe it or not, one of the places that you can cut costs during the holiday season is your electric bill.

1. Use LED lights to decorate.
Decorate your office tree with LED lights this year. LEDs have several advantages over traditional incandescent lights; most impressive is they only use 1/10th of the electricity of typical lights. Also, LED lights don't emit heat, making them safer, more durable and longer lasting than incandescent bulbs.

2. Install timers or motion sensors on lights.
Installing timers or motion sensors on lights around the office is another great way to save money and electricity. You can program timers to turn lights off at a certain time or use motion sensors to turn on lights only when movement is detected in a room. If you leave your office or holiday lights running throughout the night, you could be adding more than 50 dollars to your energy bill for the month.

3. Unplug electronics and appliances.
Right now there are probably more than 10 appliances plugged in around your office that you aren't using or haven't even used today, like a toaster in the break room or the printer, computer, and phone plugged in at an empty office. On average, 75% of the energy used to power electronics and appliances is consumed when they are plugged in but not in use.

4. Give your heater a break.
Dress warm even when you're inside and turn the thermostat down to 68 degrees or lower. Every degree that you lower the heat below 70 degrees will save you up to 5% on heating costs.

In addition to following these tips, Pieper can help you save more. We can make sure your electrical system is running efficiently and electrical components are in proper working order. Give us a call to learn how installing a power factor correction unit or getting a power quality check-up can save you money come bill time. And don't forget, should any problems with your electrical system occur during the holidays, Pieper is on call 24/7 for all of your electrical needs.


Preventative Maintenance is the Cure

Posted: November 21, 2014

With many people on vacation and buildings emptier in the summer and towards the end of the year, those are the perfect times to give your building a preventative maintenance check-up, complete with an infrared electrical inspection.

Infrared inspections are specifically designed to identify potential problems before they happen so that precautionary measures can be taken. Infrared technology enables thermographers the ability to ‘see,' measure and record temperatures on defective parts, as well as the usual wear, chemical contamination, corrosion, fatigue and faulty assembly that occurs in many electrical systems.

Thermal imaging is like an X-ray for your electrical system; it detects if there is heat being emitted from poor terminations and excessive loads. A check-up can help reduce repair costs and decrease lost production time that would result during unexpected downtime.

Give your building a healthy glow by scheduling a visit from our licensed electricians.


Light Up the Silver Screen, Not Your Electrical System

Posted: November 7, 2014

People are attracted to watching big, fiery explosions. It's why we like watching action movies so much — the lights, sparkle and loud boom! But as much fun as we have staring in awe at the flames and debris on the big screen, it's not so much fun to be standing in front of the remnants of an electrical device.

It's sometimes hard to tell if the piece of equipment is broken just by looking at it, which is why people often largely ignore that electrical device until it starts spewing sparks.

However, your electrical system should never be neglected. Routine maintenance should be scheduled based on the age of your building and complexity of its electrical system. Power outlets, generators, transformers, lighting systems and more need to be carefully inspected by licensed professionals to ensure minor issues are taken care of before they become bigger problems.

When was the last time you gave your building a little lovin'? Did you know that studies have shown that regular, correctly performed maintenance can return $5 for every dollar invested?

Preventative check-ups can:

  • Help you maximize the life of your equipment
  • Improve your electrical system's reliability
  • Lower downtime

Whether your building's electrical is ready for a much-needed maintenance visit or you're in a jam and need 24-hour emergency service, we can help.


Dinosaurs and Incandescent Lamps — A Page in History

Posted: October 24, 2014

You might have heard the discussion about the outlawing of incandescent lamps. Well, the truth is something a little different: The lamps are being phased out, not outlawed.

The lamps affected are Type A-style (common pear-shaped lamps) in the 40, 60, 75 and 100 watt. The phase out covers the years 2012 - 2014, starting with the 100-watt, A-shaped lamp in 2012.

The process is accomplished by setting an efficiency standard for lamps that these common-type lamps can't meet. The new standard has also established a color rendering index (CRI) and minimum life ratings (lamp life). Special purpose lamps such as vibration service, shatter-resistant, 3-way and 150-watt 2601-3300 lumen bulbs are not affected. The new regulation does not affect colored theatrical and many other special lamps either.

Incandescent lamps have been regulated by the federal government since 1992. Nine states and the District of Columbia have had laws since 2006 regarding lamp types BR, ER and R. These are the reflector bulbs commonly used in recessed downlight fixtures. These lamps should be replaced with the types PAR Halogen, compact fluorescent, of LED-style lamps.

You will find that lamp life is substantially longer and energy savings are huge. While the initial investment of retrofitting your facility with new generation lamps may seem daunting, the return on the investment is well worth the capital outlay.


School is Never Out

Posted: October 10, 2014

Even after our apprentices complete their apprenticeship at the Independent Electrical Contractors of Houston (IEC), their education continues. At Pieper, they start a new phase in learning because “school is never out.” Each day is an opportunity to better yourself with knowledge, patience, leadership and compassion.

Did you know that each journeyman must maintain his or her Texas Electrical License by enrolling in an eight-hour continuing education program each year? Pieper provides this training, as well as 30 hours of OSHA training for all of our foremen and 10 hours of OSHA training for all of our Journeymen.

Did you know that the National Electrical Code (NEC) is more than 1,300 pages and is updated every three years? We provide code review and blueprint reading instruction so our Foremen and Journeymen understand the entire project, not just the electrical. We study everything, from civil to structural and everything in between.

It is our duty to provide this level of commitment to training, and it is an honor to provide this level of professionalism to our clients and associates.


Plan Ahead with Prefabrication

Posted: September 26, 2014

We have all seen the changes occurring in the construction marketplace. For years, we have watched as projects have increased in complexity and schedules have been compressed — all while fewer craftsmen enter the workplace and the margins shrink.

Prefabrication can help meet these demands. Many components of the electrical system can be fabricated off-site and shipped to the jobsite for installation. This process has led to a proven increase in quality and project planning; you cannot initiate a successful prefabrication effort without a through planning process on the front side.

Simple labor intensive items can be quickly assembled off-site in a controlled environment and planned into the job site work planning. Examples of items include fixture tails, device rough-ins, pre-assembly of transformers, home runs wire assemblies, drop links for VAV boxes and associated rack, mounts and carriers. We have even prefabricated entire underground conduit duct banks.

On a seven-story hotel, we were able to build in our factory the entire electrical rooms, complete with all racks and transformers and crane them into place as each floor was put in place. Repetitive-type buildings such as hospital head walls and hotel rooms are a perfect fit for prefabrication. The key is that the mock-up of the room must be built early enough to allow for the planning.

Prefabrication is a process; it takes a committed effort from the project foreman, Joe T, our BIM AutoCAD operator, the project manager and Dwain, our prefabrication foreman. We're dedicated to working together to complete your project correctly and on time.


Get Current on Safety Standards in a Flash: Understanding OSHA regulations and the NFPA Standard 70E

Posted: September 12, 2014

Arc Flash Analysis. It's not a test to see if you can figure out what makes the superhero, The Flash, so cool and how he saves lives. But it is a test that has recently fallen under a new standard to better ensure our safety.

No matter if you own, built or just work in an office building, following safety regulations is crucial to keeping everyone safe, allowing everyone to do their jobs successfully. Awareness of potential hazards so that you can take preventative measures involves staying informed about new standards.

Our very own Director of Safety recently wrote an article detailing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) recognition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E Standard. Falling under OSHA's General Duty Clause, the ruling requires companies to conduct an Arc Flash Analysis on all electrical panels. The NFPA 70E sets out mandatory guidelines to further ensure the safety of employees.

To learn more about this new standard and how you can make sure your building is in compliance, click here.

Pieper is here not only to keep you one step ahead in your understanding of national safety standards, but also to work with you to ensure your success in a flash. At Pieper, safety is a top priority. Our safety record has proven to lower insurance costs, providing savings for you as well as giving you peace of mind after each work day finishes accident-free.


The Inner Workings of Construction Sites

Posted: August 29, 2014

Construction jobsites are active and dangerous places, filled with various craftsmen working on a myriad of tasks, each attempting to be productive while coordinating their efforts efficiently and safely with all other craftsmen involved. It's a lot to say grace over.

Assuming the role of conductor for the construction site is the general contractor. The mark of a true professional depends on his ability to effectively organize the project schedule for all craftsmen. This involves determining the best agenda to complete each task safely, and such a feat takes careful coordination and dedicated planning. This is the type of contractor Pieper endeavors to work with.

Building a solid, workable project schedule requires input from all disciplines. The general contractor holds a preplanning strategy meeting where all craftsmen work together to formulate a feasible project schedule, where they solidify time commitments and goals. Once agreed upon, each trade is held accountable to the objectives set in the meeting. When one part of the project isn't completed on time, the project schedule suffers and all other craftsmen incur a loss.

Weekly onsite project meetings help prevent these setbacks from happening. When these meetings are managed in a way that respects each trade and focuses on the common goal, a natural camaraderie develops between craftsmen. Instead of competing for their time on the job, each trade contributes to the bigger picture. The project flows smoothly, the general contractor completes the job on time or ahead of schedule, the craftsmen take pride in their work and the owner receives a well-constructed project. Everyone wins.

At Pieper, this is what we strive for. We partner with organized, professional general contractors and skilled craftsmen. Doing so allows us to deliver exceptional work that is performed on schedule. In short, we team up with the best to give you the best.


ONLY YOU Can Prevent Office Fires

Posted: August 15, 2014

It seems like something out of an action movie. In just a fraction of a second, a tremendous blast of concentrated energy pulses through the air, releasing an incredible wave of heat and sending shards of debris flying. But this is no special effect. This is an arc flash, a hazard faced by many workers in the electric industry and a threat to any electrical system.

Arc flashes can be triggered by a variety of causes. Aging electrical systems which accumulate dust and water can break down insulation and fail. Electrical connections can loosen over time, resulting in serious overheating and thermal runaway. Human error can also come into play if your building's electrical system is undergoing maintenance. Working on electrical equipment which has not been de-energized can cause arc flashes.

The consequences of an arc flash can be devastating. Individuals near the blast can incur severe burns from the intense heat and be thrown backward by its force. The explosion can also damage the building's electrical equipment or cause a fire. Extensive downtime, let alone the repair or replacement of electrical equipment, can be costly.

In light of such dangerous occurrences, the National Electrical Code has added arc flashes to its list of safety concerns. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E-2004 has implemented new regulations which guide companies in developing safety procedures for arc flash hazards.

Want to avoid a fireball of a mistake, but need some guidance? Pieper can help bring your electrical system up to NFPA 70E compliance standards. As your professional electrical contractor, you can rely on us to implement an arc flash analysis to determine the proper safety precautions for your company. This analysis is crucial for the safety of your workers, the company and its future.


An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Posted: August 4, 2014

Mother tends to have a lot of advice that we should probably heed more often, like “look before you leap” or “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

In the realm of electrical circuits, power supply and system maintenance, you wouldn't think any of mother’s old semantics would be brilliant words of advice, right? Wrong. Here at Pieper, we are taking the motherly adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” to heart. Mother may not have been spot on about everything, but one thing she did have right was that it’s easier to prevent a problem than to fix one – especially when it comes to your electrical system.

The electrical system serves as the backbone of building operations; when it fails the entire building can go down. A catastrophic failure of the electrical system could equate to loss of life, computer data and employee productivity and may upset tenants. A thermal imaging survey can identify trouble spots before disaster strikes. Typically when electrical components begin to fail, they become less efficient and the heat emitted increases, sometimes slowly, other times rapidly until all the lights go out.

Pieper’s thermal imaging surveys can detect anomalies early, allowing for time to safely repair the problem spots. Imagine the cost of equipment repair or replacement and the loss of profits during an electrical failure compared to the cost of thermal imaging testing; a little money and prevention now could save a lot of money and headache later. At Pieper, our trained and certified technicians use the most advanced thermal imaging testing equipment to provide detailed reports with digital photographs of trouble areas, along with an overall building electrical evaluation and solutions to any identified issues.

Thermal imaging testing is best preformed under a full load, so it can be completed during normal working hours with no disruption to your daily schedule. Ask about Pieper’s thermal testing program, because as mother always said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Why Do You Need Transient Voltage Surge Suppression (TVSS)?

Posted: July 18, 2014

At Pieper, we are often asked what TVSS is and why it's needed. Others may refer to these devices as a voltage or lighting arrestor, but they are not the new sheriff in town and arrest nothing, nor are they simply a “lightning protection device.”

A properly designed TVSS unit redirects “voltage surges” to the ground. Surges of voltage can come from many places and quite often come from motors and equipment within the very building you are trying to protect.

For example, we had a client who had an elevator motor that was inducing surge voltage into the building system and would damage the sensitive cardio testing equipment (always at the most inopportune times of course). Further investigation found that a building addition had been completed and the steel structures had not been bonded together properly. The combination of improper grounding and lack of TVSS wreaked havoc throughout the building.

To solve problems like this, Pieper has the power monitoring equipment to assist with evaluating and designing proper TVSS protection for your building. Call our service department at 713.984.9342 and see if your building has the proper TVSS protection for your application.


Bringing Retro Back to the Future

Posted: July 7, 2014

With the growing popularity of fluorescent, CFL and LED lighting, incandescent bulbs may soon be a thing of the past. Energy efficient equipment is also growing in popularity. But you might not have to get rid of your old appliances just yet – Pieper might have the right solution for you.

Energy saving lighting updates, or retrofits, are additions of new technology to old equipment. For example, we can install devices that reduce the energy use of air conditioning units. Due to the rise in indoor temperatures from the combination of people and lighting, it only needs to be 60°F outside before you have to turn on the air conditioning. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units and lighting make up a huge percentage of a city’s carbon emissions.

Improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and homes is the most impactful thing we can do to cut down on our carbon emissions as well as our energy bills. Once you’ve done that, however, you also need to be sure your home or building stays energy efficient. Again, Pieper can step in and save the day. With our state-of-the-art monitoring and recording equipment, our experienced experts can make sure everything is running just the way it should.


Are You Paying Too Much for Power?

Posted: June 20, 2014

Think of a stream of energy like a stream of water. Now, imagine a water wheel in that stream. The water pushing the wheel does the work. That's real power. The rest of the water in the stream is the reactive power. The difference between the two is called power factor — and it can greatly affect your electric bill.

Now what does that have to do with your power bill? Well, just like the water wheel, the real power does the work (meaning it's the power you actually use) and the reactive power helps move the energy through your power lines.

Unfortunately, power companies often charge you for all the energy running through your power lines, even though your home or office is only using some of it. This is especially the case if you have a poor power factor.

Using Power Factor Correction, however, Pieper can help you reduce your power bill. Ask your utility provider what the power factor is on your service. They will fax, email or mail you that information or it may be right on your monthly invoice. Pieper can help you look at the payback for installing an automatic power factor correction unit to your distribution system.


Staying Safe in the Summer: Reduce Risks During Storms

Posted: June 6, 2014

Having the ability to recognize possible risks before, during and after a summer storm can significantly reduce the possibility of a fire. The U.S. Fire Administration and Pieper encourage you to take preventative measures and adhere to some safety advice about the damage summer storms can cause.

With thunderstorms comes lightning, which creates an assortment of fire hazards. The extreme heat and electrical charge of lightning can fry objects and split trees. In addition, lightning can give an electrical charge to appliances, which gives them the potential to start fires or cause electrocution.

To prevent these unfortunate events, it is best to have a licensed electrician check your system after an outage. Your alarm systems and generator should be checked for damage you may not see. You should also make sure your alarm systems have a back-up battery or back-up power. And as a precaution, schedule monthly alarm tests and replace the batteries in your fire alarms each year.

Pieper can provide you with skilled electrical technicians to evaluate your electrical and alarm systems as well as your generators. Furthermore, we can install transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS). Transients, also known as surges, spikes or over-voltages, can damage electronic equipment in most types of buildings and environments. TVSS installations are crucial to protecting your power and power quality.


Your No. 1 Hurricane Prep: Backup Power

Posted: May 23, 2014

One of the scarcest resources after a hurricane is electricity. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most important. Medical facilities and police and fire stations need electricity to maintain public wellness, which is why they plan ahead with permanent backup power. But private businesses often see the effects of a disaster lingering long after it's over.

The first imperative in emergency power planning is to outfit your facilities with backup power, and to make sure all equipment is properly sized and in good repair. Planning effectively secures short-term emergency power for any size building, whether it's for a small office or large manufacturing facility.

Businesses without backup power see the most damage from a hurricane. Without power, computers and data centers are down, production comes to a halt, salaried employees are idle and the list goes on and on. The best thing to do is plan ahead. Well-planned backup power can be the difference between business as usual and going out of business

At Pieper, we've been helping our clients for years with permanent systems and mobile generators. And right now, before hurricane season, is the best time to get started.


Staying Grounded: The Importance of Safeguarding Your Circuits

Posted: May 9, 2014

If you're planning on rearranging, relocating or purchasing new machines or electronics, do you have plans in place to ensure your equipment is properly grounded? Without professional grounding, dangerous shock hazards exist that could electrocute employees, cause damage to sensitive electronics or produce showers of sparks around flammable products.

Protect your business from stray voltage by hiring a licensed electrical contractor to upgrade outlets, replace ground rods or install new circuit breakers. To Pieper's seasoned electrical technicians, grounding and bonding is a routine task for any electrical project, large or small. Our team has a keen understanding of National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements and believes that safety always comes first.

As your business or organization evolves over time, your electrical system needs to evolve with it. If you're moving or remodeling, call Pieper today for all your machine and electrical ground maintenance needs.


Don't Forget: Schedule Your Electrical Check-Up

Posted: April 25, 2014

When was the last time your building had an electrical check-up? One year? Two years? More? Then it's time to call Pieper. Electrical systems should receive annual or semi-annual inspections to ensure the longevity of the system, as well as your safety.

Plus, a simple inspection can save you money! Pieper's experienced professionals can evaluate your electrical usage needs and provide helpful advice on ways to save money on your energy bill. For example, you may want to install motion sensors to entrances or hallways so the lights are only on when you need them.

Have you added any new equipment to your building since your last inspection? You may need a dedicated plug or a separate electrical circuit. Once you have the chance to speak to one of our trained electricians, you can rest assured that your electrical system will be fully optimized and you will be operating at an efficient level.


Crafting Careers and the Future of Construction.

Posted: April 11, 2014

In 2009, a group of owners and contractors (both general and specialty) met to discuss the commercial construction workforce in the greater Houston area, and realized that there was a growing need for craftsmen. Over the years, the workforce has aged, shifted into one that is increasingly misclassified or illegal, and diminished in hourly workers. The group decided that owners and contractors needed to team up to revitalize the workforce.

Fast Facts:

  • Average craft worker is 47 years old
  • Average entry age into the industry is 29 years old
  • Craft training is at an all-time low
  • Every dollar invested in employee training in the construction industry provides a return of $54

The result of this initial meeting was the Construction Career Collaborative (C3). This alliance of socially responsible owners, contractors and specialty contractors strives to develop a professional craft workforce by enforcing three principles: hourly and overtime payment standards, safety training and craft training in hopes of attracting new talent.

Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature acknowledged the same worker shortage that C3 did, when they sought to overhaul the standardized testing and high school graduation system with House Bill 5. The bill creates different tracks for graduation, enabling students who may not necessarily be the right fit for a four-year college to still graduate from high school and look into other higher education options, such as trade school. House Bill 5 thus creates opportunities for the construction industry to advocate trade schools as a great alternative and recruit younger talent.

Pieper, too, recognizes the growing need for trained and professional craftsmen, especially if Houston, which was recently named "America's next great global city" by Forbes, is to continue expanding and earn this title. As part of our efforts, Pieper serves as the American Subcontractors Association's liaison to C3, and stays up-to-date on what's happening in the industry. We invite you to join the discussion.

Learn More about C3.

Join the ASA.


Save Money with Sustainable Energy Practices

Posted: March 28, 2014

When it comes to your electrical system, you don't need the luck of the Irish to find a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow. Saving money is simple with Pieper's green energy expertise.

Nationally, businesses spend more than $60 billion on energy each year. Fortunately, you can cut your utility costs by 10% to 30% without sacrificing quality or service.

Improve Your Energy Efficiency

There's no substitute for a comprehensive energy survey and analysis, but these 7 simple savers can generate a significant difference in your energy use:

  1. Turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
  2. Install dimmers, timers and motion sensors in areas with infrequent traffic.
  3. Keep your heating/air-conditioning (HVAC) system running smoothly with regular maintenance.
  4. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.
  5. Install LED (light-emitting diode) exit signs.
  6. Use natural light wherever possible, but control direct sunlight to limit or maximize heat.
  7. Prevent air leaks with weather stripping and caulking.

There are many small ways to improve energy efficiency, but true savings can only be earned through a holistic electrical approach. With a comprehensive electrical analysis from Pieper, you can transform your workspace into an environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy place to work.

From simple solar panels to fully integrated management systems, our engineers have extensive experience and expertise in LEED standards. We can design and install a complete system that will generate, transfer and use energy more efficiently. So, get in the spirit and make March your month to go green with your electrical.


Give Your Electrical System a Lil' TLC

Posted: March 28, 2014

Have you ever noticed that your electrical system doesn't give out during your normal, everyday routine? It tends to fail during the most inopportune times, such as an important business meeting or in the middle of a major project.

Unfortunately, the leading cause of failure is lack of maintenance. Key areas of every electrical system are the most common sites to fail without warning, but with annual inspections and regular maintenance, problems can be avoided.

Many systems can still operate as well as they did when they were installed — they just need a little TLC. Proper maintenance goes beyond the obvious lamp change-out. A large part of maintaining a healthy electrical system is preventing potential problems before they interrupt day-to-day activities, and before the cost of repair gets out of hand.

At Pieper, attention to our clients doesn't end when the job is "completed." You have a full range of top-quality services at your disposal 24/7 whether it's a minor maintenance need or an urgent repair necessity. We're just a phone call away anytime, anywhere.