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

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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.

Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL)

Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL)  in buildings are electric loads resulting from electronic devices not responsible for space heating, cooling, water heating, or lighting. MELs are produced by hard-wired and “plug-in” electrical devices, including home entertainment centers, kitchen electronics such as microwaves and toaster ovens, bath items such as hair dryers and electric hot tubs, and others such as security systems and ceiling fans.

Early generation phone chargers used a lot of electricity and were also a danger if left plugged into the phone. In recent years chargers for phones and other new electronics like laptops have more energy efficient features like an automatic shutoff and sleep mode.

MEL is estimated to contribute 4-12% of the total household energy usage and while many newer electronic devices will come with energy efficient features, things like refrigerators and microwaves are not replaced often so the likelihood of these devices being energy hogs is high.

The other major contributor to MEL are devices that are always connected to the internet. The increasing use of electronics connected to WiFi for example is only going to increase as we move inexorably towards a wireless world. Internet business experts estimate that by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices constantly connected to the internet. Some of the more futuristic things that will be connected to your phone or the computer chip in your brain are coffee makers, pacemakers, cars, and of course cows.

There are a few proposed solutions, some more feasible and long term than others. TheWhole House Switch is somewhat like a circuit breaker for everything in your house. The idea is that when you go out all the electronics can be switched off all at once. This solution requires some pretty serious rewiring that may not even offset the energy saved.

The best solution is a combination of advances in the technology combined with government incentives to upgrades appliances to the latest energy efficient models. For example, new advances in semi-conductor materials means faster and cheaper energy transmission with little environmental loss. When exactly these scientific progressions will be available for the homeowner is still a matter of some debate.

One short term solution is to put timers on the devices that don’t need to be on all night. I have a timer attached to my TV, modem, and cable box that shuts off automatically at night. Timers can be purchased from Tashman Home Center.

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How Realistic is Ocean Front Property in Arizona?

How Realistic is Ocean Front Property in Arizona?

Due to the melting of the polar caps and the various land-based glaciers all over the world, many islands across the globe are in jeopardy of being submerged. This isn’t a “could happen” scenario as Indonesia has already lost more than 20 of its 1500 islands since 2005. It is also projected that the Maldives will be nothing more than a tropical memory by 2050. As these levels continue to rise, could there really be ocean-front property in Arizona within the next century?

Elevation Matters – Arizona’s mean altitude is 4100 feet above sea level. According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the levels have been rising at 0.12 inches per year since 1992. However, it has been reported that this has been a 50-percent increase since the recorded levels of the early 1900s. If the sea levels were to continue at just over one-tenth of an inch per year, it would take 410,000 years in order to submerge Arizona. That also is based on a formula assuming that there is no further increase.

Compounded Problems – At the current rate of melting, NOAA is predicting that the water levels will actually rise by six and one-half feet by 2100. This is a calculation based on the exponential rise of the levels over a period of time. This means that the water will rise approximately 83-percent faster than the 0.12 inches per year as stated above. At that rate, Arizona could become a shore-line state in 69,700 years – plenty of time to pack your sunscreen and surfboard.

Melting Polar Caps – When you see an iceberg in the ocean, it may not look very intimidating at first. When you realize that most of these chunks of ice hide 80-percent of their mass underwater, then you can get a better idea of how large they truly are. This inspires the term, “only the tip of the iceberg.” Although this mass displaces the ocean water around it, it’s also fresh water that is contained within those behemoths. When you consider how much ice was at the North and South poles of this planet that is an incredible amount of fresh water being added to the oceans. This doesn’t include the ancient glaciers that are land-based such as those found in Peru, Alaska and Canada.

Fresh Water Induction – Added large amounts of fresh water to the ocean causes changes in how the currents react. In the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” this caused massive storms to populate in a matter of days. In reality, that scenario isn’t far from the truth. According to RealClimate.org, there is scientific evidence to support that the Gulf Stream currents have been reduced by 30-percent. These oceanic streams assist in the weather patterns that can be felt globally. This isn’t including the fact that fresh water puts strain on fish and plant life including decreasing overall buoyancy.

Human Made or Natural Evolution? – There is great debate about the ice-melt as being human made or just natural evolution of the planet. We have scientific evidence that can provide stability for either argument. Scientific discoveries have shown humanity that there have been as many as five ice ages in the past 2.4 billion years. Every two to three hundred million years, the conditions are ripe for the planet to essentially freeze itself. Could the melting of the global ice sheets contribute to hastening our next ultimate winter by altering the weather patterns?

Currently, Arizona is safe from becoming a port city. Although the rising sea levels could displace more than 180,000 families by the end of the century, the state’s sheer altitude provides a great deal of protection. As long as the San Andreas doesn’t snap and sink California, Arizona residents won’t have to worry about donning flood pants.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

Jalousie aka louvre windows are terrible

This post was written by Alex for Tashman Home Center in Los Angeles.

louvre windows

If you live some where that is not temperate year round you may not have run into this abominable style of windows. For obvious reasons, installing these things somewhere cold is a terrible idea but installing them somewhere warm is also silly.

Invented well before the advent of air conditioning, Jalousie windows are meant to utilize natural ventilation to cool homes in hot areas like Southern California. Now that we have entered a more modern age where air conditioners are pretty standard in places like Los Angeles, Jalousie windows are a waste of money, energy , and resources.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter; the importance of good window insulation. Tashman Home Center is one of the few remaining retailers of louvre windows but we do not recommend them at all.

Instead we recommend aluminum or Vinyl windows with Low E glass for extra energy efficiency. For more on our various styles of windows, see our info page or our Catalog.

window types

Will Water Be a Commodity More Sought After then Gold?

Hollywood has done a decent job keeping us entertained over the years. Futuristic movies have grasped out imagination with tales of how water is scarce and survival after an apocalypse is anything but ideal. However, how much content from those movies are purely imaginative considering the world wide events of today? Will the world’s supply of fresh water become as precious to us as gold and oil?

Glaciers
For the inhabitants near glacier parks, as well as providing fresh water to rivers that span hundreds of miles, the reality of no water is a fact of life. Across the globe, glaciers are melting at an incredible rate pouring greater amounts of water into the oceans. This has, in turn, increased the sea levels at a rapid pace. Within our lifetime, island cities such as the Maldives will be submerged as could be several areas of Florida and other coastal states and cities. In Peru, 1600 years’ worth of ice has melted in less than three decades. How much more will we lose as a species before preventative measures are taken?

Rain Forests
Rain forests are more important than merely providing a habitat for the creatures that live within them. Each year, rains produced within the forests have declined steadily as trees and plant life are removed to provide land for cattle and commodities. Shouldn’t the water produced by these forests be considered a greater commodity than cotton or corn?

United States
In a report completed earlier in 2013 by the Natural Resources Defense Council of Tetra Tech, more than two-thirds of the counties in the US will have reservoirs unable to sustain the population demand by 2050. Changes in the climate and irregular weather patterns will not be able to replenish reservoirs that are in use. An overwhelming amount of the population wants the government to step in and address the problem of water shortages, but very few trust that the government will do anything about the problem.

Wasted Water for Production
Did you know that it takes more than 39,000 gallons of water to produce a new car? If you consider that a single human can consume up to one gallon of water per day, this is enough water to hydrate a person for more than his or her lifetime. Industry exhausts a great deal of water between cooling, lubricating, cleaning and any other use that requires liquid. The more we consume products as a global population, the faster the water is used. The very thing that is keeping economies functional will be a major contributor to its demise if things don’t change.

Toxic Chemical Levels
Many skeptics don’t believe that humans are the cause of climate change due to higher levels of carbon dioxide that is produced through various means. While they focus the quality of air, not many look at the ground. Chemicals that we take for granted are being put into the Earth and poisoning our water supply. Whether this poisoning of the water tables is on accident or not is irrelevant. That fact is that humans are responsible for contaminating water supplies through inappropriate or negligent actions.

At the current rate of decline, it will only be a matter of a few decades before the lack of water can create situations similar to those apocalyptic movies we grew up with. Whether our governments believe in global warming or not shouldn’t be the focus of their attention. Dehydration of the population is a reality and more efforts should be involved to sustain the people of any area.

Author Bio:

Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

 

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