Save energy and Money by weather stripping your house

I originally wrote this for Tashman Home Center

Weather stripping your home can save you money for several different reasons. While Southern California may not have harsh winters, it does have heat and our famous Santa Ana Winds and with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of both, weather stripping your home might be worth considering. Whether your cooling or heating a home or want to cut down on the amount of dust that slips in around your windows and doors, doing an energy audit will let you know if makes sense to spend the money weatherizing your home. Here is a list of professionals that provide Energy Audits,

If you’d prefer to check things our yourself, here are several things you can do:

Windows

Use a stick of incense or a candle during a windy day to go around the windows and see where air is leaking in. During this wind test also check the windows themselves for cracks or other problems that can easily be addressed.

When dealing with sliding windows, there are a few simple things that will make a big difference with respect to unwanted air flow. Attach vinyl weather strips to the sides of the windows and foam strips on the bottom. Also put a V-Channel weatherstrip where the window goes into the frame to create a complete seal. Another option if you don’t plan on opening the windows for a while is to fill the cracks with caulking. The best product to use for this purpose is called seal and peel caulk. It is made to be easy to remove so you can quickly open up your house when spring comes.

Doors

When you close your front door, ideally it will make a strong seal. Use open cell foam weatherstripping for the sides of the door and a sweep for the bottom to keep out drafts.

Visit Tashman Home Center

Visit our website’s Hardware Page to see some of the 20,000 items we carry in stock that can help you with your project, or stop by our showroom at 7769 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood 90046 and get assistance from our terrific and knowledgable staff.  See Map

Energy Efficient Windows

This post was written by me but originally appeared at http://blog.tashmans.com/

The first window was made about 3.3 million years ago and was a hole in the wall of whatever was being used for shelter at the time. The purpose was to better see enemies and wild animals approaching as well as to enjoy a cool breeze on a hot summer night.

The Romans were the first known to use glass for windows, a technology likely first produced in Roman Egypt—In Alexandria ca. 100 AD. The technology has advanced significantly over the years although some people still use Jalousie windows which are only slightly better than a hole in the wall.

Untitled-e1430525842626Before deciding on new windows it is important to know a little bit about how the sun’s radiation works. The sun emits a lot of radiation but for the purposes of window efficiency, we can focus of visible light and radiant energy (heat). The goal, in both hot and cold climes, is to allow as much visible light through while minimizing the transference of radiant energy. There are three main ways to treat glass to make it energy efficient. These are insulated glass, low e glass, and reflective coated glass.

Insulated glass windows usually consist of two or three panes of glass separated by an inert nonconductive gas like Argon. The spacers often have a desiccant, which reduces the possibility of moisture entry.

Low emissivity glass has been coated with a microscopic metallic oxide that reflects infrared light (radiant energy) and allows visible light through. Low E coatings come in different varieties which can be customized to fit a specific location, cold and dark vs hot and light.

Public Toilet with reflecting glass

Reflective coatings are usually used in hot areas with windows getting direct sunlight. For example the front of our hardware store has very large south facing windows so we put a reflective coating on them so we wouldn’t have to use exorbitant amounts of air conditioning. Some of the more severe reflecting coatings will turn glass into a one way mirror.

The type of frame for a window is also important for durability and energy efficiency. Aluminum windows are durable and cheap but have a high heat conductivity which is bad for energy efficiency. Wood window frames look nice and have good insulating properties but require more maintenance because wood tends to warp with heat and moisture. Fiberglass frames provide good insulation and generally look better than aluminum. Fiberglass is also very strong and can accommodate a larger piece of glass. Vinyl frames are the most energy efficient, require no maintenance and can be custom treated for any environment.

Our atmosphere and magnetic field protects us from most of the Sun’s harmful radiation and we as technologically advanced animals can further protect ourselves from other inconveniences like heat and high electric bills.

Urban Heat Islands and Paint

White reflects and black absorbs.

It’s a simple statement with massive ramifications if our society decides to use the science of color to fight global warming. For centuries cities in places like North Africa and the Mediterranean have been painting everything bright white to keep cool. White reflects the heat radiation back into space while darker colors absorb heat radiation and would therefore increase the temperature in and around the house.

moracco

 

Why did we abandon this simple technique that seems like a no brainer in places like Los Angeles? The answer is that it is much cheaper to use dark building materials. Asphalt and tar are two of the most ubiquitous building materials we use to construct cities and roads. The detrimental effect of building like that is referred to as the “Urban Heat Island” effect. This is why cities are generally much hotter than the surrounding countryside.

In cities with ample precipitation, the best solution involves plants on places like rooftops and vacant lots. The city of Boston buried it’s largest highway and built a giant park in it’s place. The “Big Dig” was a disaster as far as construction projects go but the original concept was great. (When I was ten years old, the Major of Boston told me the Big Dig would be done in five years…I am now thirty and they just finished.)

big-dig-before-after-photo

The problem with this approach in Los Angeles is the complete lack of rain. No one should be watering large lawns because it’s just downright irresponsible. Replacing lawns with fake grass actually contributes to the Urban Heat Island and also destroys whatever ecosystem existed there before. Residents of Los Angeles can enroll in a rebate turf removal program whereby you replace the grass with drought resistant plants and get money back from the city.

turf_res_before2

turf_res_after2

Of course if you can’t get people to vaccinate their children, the concept of deadly irresponsibility may not be salient for the residents of greater Los Angeles.

If you want to be a responsable member of society, however, paint white and tear up all that thirsty grass.

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