Electrical repairs can be time consuming and potentially unsafe for even the most skilled, savvy do-it-yourselfer. Sometimes you just gotta hire a professional electrician. Here are eight tips on how to get the most for your money:

1. Be Prepared Before the Electrician Arrives

The less time the electrician spends dealing with inconveniences, the better. Before the electrician arrives, prepare a written list of items you want serviced. Also, make sure the problem area and electrical panel box are easy to get to, so the electrician can get to work right away. Clear away furniture, fragile items and pets from areas where the electrician is likely to work. If an electrician needs access to a crawl space, make sure that he has it!

2. Install Money-Saving Electrical Fixtures

  • Heating and cooling your home accounts for 46% of a home’s electricity consumption — that’s almost half of your electricity bill. You can’t change the weather, but for less than $100, you can buy a programmable thermostat that adjusts your home’s temperature while you’re asleep — or at work. Some premium models can be controlled via smartphone or can automatically activate your HVAC system when you’re driving home from work.
  • You can substantially reduce energy consumption in your home by switching from incandescent light fixtures or bulbs to fluorescent ones.
  • Wall-outlet timers can switch off televisions, computers, lamps, radios and other energy hogs. They’re inexpensive, and great if someone in your house habitually leaves the lights on in every room.
  • Motion-detector switches can help you save money on outdoor lighting while providing cost-effective security to your home.
  • Newer, more energy-efficient washers and dryers use a fraction of the energy that older models consume. In fact, the savings from replacing older models will pay for the machines within just a few years. Today’s refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves are also more efficient. Nearly 15% of your home’s energy consumption comes from appliances, so savings can add up quickly.

3. Reviews and Recommendations Can Help

Before selecting an electrician, don’t hesitate to consult neighbors and the Internet to determine who is right for your job. Find out who arrives on time, tackles the problem efficiently, cleans up afterwards, etc. — and who doesn’t. On the Internet, take a glance at Yelp!, Angie’s List, YellowPages, Bing Places, Insider Pages, and Google My Business. Numerous bad reviews may be red flags!

4. An Electrician’s Well-Stocked Truck May Cancel Out the Savings of Another’s Hourly Rates

Some electricians charge by the job. Others may charge an hourly rate between $40 and $100. A skilled, well-equipped, $100 an hour electrician with a truck full of parts can be a wiser choice than an inexperienced dude, working with inadequate tools and no parts, who charges $50 per hour. The hourly rate has to be considered along with the firm’s work quality, equipment and experience.

5. Compare the Electrician’s Travel Charges

Travel charges can have a big impact on your costs and are in some ways easier to compare than hourly rates. Some Georgia electricians spend a third or more of their time navigating traffic. Every electrician has to find a way to pay for the expense of driving all over town each day.

Some charge a higher rate for the first hour, some charge a flat “trip charge,” some charge a minimum for each visit, and some simply charge a higher hourly rate to compensate for travel time.

When you first contact the professional, ask about the charge for travel and calculate if it makes sense for your situation. A trip charge and a relatively low hourly rate make sense on an all-day job. But for a shorter job, you’ll do better with someone who charges by the job, or absorbs travel costs by charging a higher hourly rate.

6. Bundle Repair Jobs Together

To save money and time on repair work, bundle projects together. When you discover a minor electrical problem, put it on a list. When you feel it’s time to call an electrician, review your list, walk through your home, and look for faulty switches and other small problems. The electrician can take of everything on the list in one visit.

7. Electricians Are Trained Professionals

Electricians are trained, licensed, and bonded. They’ve been apprentices, made countless repairs, and seen problems similar to yours. The electrical field is always changing, requiring new knowledge and skills — and professionals keep up. “LED technology is blowing people out of the water,” says Sean Dore, owner of Mr. Electric in Lafayette, LA. “Generally, we’re always being re-educated, gaining new abilities, and learning new techniques. We put in the time to learn, and that’s what people are paying for—coming out, finding the problem, and fixing it. Maybe you could have done it after four days of research, but we did it in 45 minutes. And no one got hurt. That’s why you paid us.” So ask questions, but don’t insult or haggle with an electrician.

8. Appreciation and Tips Can’t Hurt

When electricians receive cash tips (or baked goods—brownies seem to be a particular favorite), they don’t forget about you.

And while it’s certainly not mandatory, cash is a great way to show appreciation for a job done well. Small tips are generally considered not only acceptable, but also desired. A less obvious but simple form of gratitude: coffee or hot breakfast on a cold Georgia morning, cool water or soda on a hot Georgia day.