Electrical Considerations

In this post I will discuss some electrical considerations such as how to deal with plastic-coated electrical wiring, the advantages of installing a kill switch in the bedroom, and issues to consider when deciding where to locate your electrical box. Unfortunately, I do not have expertise in designing a healthy house for emf sensitivities. That is a large and complex subject best addressed by a knowledgeable emf consultant. (If you have expertise in this subject and want to add something, please leave it in the comments section. Thank you!)

The amount of plastic-coated electrical wiring required to wire a whole house, even a small house, is not insubstantial. The thought of having all that plastic off gassing in the walls and possibly (likely?) leaking into the living space was the kind of worry that gave me insomnia during the building of our non-toxic house.

“I’m bothered by the odor of plastics. Will plastic jacketed electrical wiring be a problem for me?”

from the Healthy House Institute, Healthy Home Basics—Electrical Wiring

After some research, we decided to run all the wiring through armored cable (also called flexible metal conduit) to help contain the off gassing of the electrical wiring and because a consultant told us armored cable reduces emfs (electromagnetic fields).

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Unfortunately, when the armored cable arrived it was covered with a light coating of oil. We, of course, did not know exactly what oil or grease coated the armored cable, but it was likely a petroleum product and not, say, organic jojoba oil. So now we needed to contain the petroleum product on the armored cable that we purchased to contain the off gassing plastic covered electrical wiring. And the electrical work couldn’t continue until that happened. We decided to hire some guys to aluminum tape all the armored cable. I mention this to give you a heads up on what is involved when using armored cable, which is often recommended by healthy house consultants. If you click on the Healthy House Institute link above, that article suggests two alternatives to armored cable—off gassing the wiring prior to building or using aluminum foil around the wiring or both. I would advise consulting with your electrician on these options. One question I would ask if reducing emfs is your primary goal: does aluminum foil reduce emfs as well as armored cable?

Since we were building a pumice-crete house, channels for the wiring are carved out of the walls. Then the wiring is installed in the channels and the channels are plastered over. Since it didn’t matter if we put the wiring on the inside of the building or the outside, we chose to install the wiring on the outside of the building as added protection against the plastic covered wiring.

“The modern home can be one of the worst enemies to your healthful, sound sleeping because of electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) generated by electrical devices.”  EMFs and Sleep

One of the best pieces of advice we received regarding electrical issues was to install a kill switch in the bedroom to cut all power to that room by flipping the switch.

“Studies have shown that exposure to nighttime magnetic fields is associated with less total sleep time, more wake time and less sleep efficiency.”  Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Since many hours are spent in the bedroom sleeping, ideally deeply and restoratively, reducing the emf levels in the bedroom is advised, even for people who do not have serious emf sensitivities. It is a procedure any electrician can do and it is not expensive. (Note: You will have to switch to a battery operated bedside clock. Also, do not keep your cell phone on your bedside table, since this defeats the purpose of a low emf space.)

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Even with a kill switch in the bedroom, make note of what is on the other side of the wall behind your head. You should be at least six feet from an electrical panel box, TVs, refrigerators, water heaters, and other large appliances. Obviously make sure to turn off your Wi-Fi as well.

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In a world increasingly filled with cell phone towers, high voltage power lines, and your own or your neighbors Wi-Fi signals, we are subjected to unprecedented amounts of high frequency and low frequency electromagnetic fields. We may have limited control over what goes on outside our homes, but we can be conscious of the choices we make inside our homes, particularly when building a healthy home or improving an existing home.

As always, good luck creating a safer, healthier place to live!

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