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.

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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.)

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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.

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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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Solar Powered Air Conditioners are Becoming More Elaborate

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Air conditioners can consume an incredible amount of power. Between the electricity the compressor utilizes and the torque of the motor in order to spin the fan, your electric bill can skyrocket over the summer. In order to reduce the cost of this unit, some have installed solar panels onto the roof specific to the sole use of the AC device. However, innovative designs have made development of these units far more elaborate than in previous years.

Mobile Cooling – Many people like the idea of being able to maneuver a cooling device set on wheels in order to maximize the effect in any given room. Developers have created a small unit that can be rolled across the floor while being connected to a solar panel. With some of these smaller units, you can essentially place the panel in the window as long as the sun’s light can reach. These can be incredibly useful if you need a solution that can travel with you from one room to the next.

Ductless Heat Pump Units – Operating at 18,000 BTU, some of these ductless heat pump units can reduce power consumption by nearly 97-percent. Solar panels as well as the mini-split design allows for installation nearly anywhere. Once the sun light is minimal, the heat pump automatically switches to an energy efficient device taking its power from the grid. Although some of these are not 100-percent dependent on solar power or battery backups, the units can still reduce your day-time spending per kilowatt hour.

Hybrid Heating and AC – Some units have been developed to act as both air conditioning and as heaters in order to keep rooms comfortable year round. Although this isn’t necessarily a new idea, the addition of solar power to operate these units decreases your spending regardless of season changes. Some of these miniature HVAC systems can range from small 5,000 BTU devices to more powerful machines producing more than 40,000 BTUs. Depending on your own room requirements, hybrid systems can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter while using less power from the grid.

Central Air – Central air is an efficient method of keeping the home cool in the summer. Solar power adaptations have been created that can operate in a hybrid unit offering cool air as well as heat. Using energy efficient technology and including its own dedicated solar panel, these units are far less costly to maintain than the gird-dedicated counterparts of the past.

Do it Yourself Projects – If you can’t find something that fits your budget or your specific needs, you can always build one yourself. There are many different ways that these units can be assembled – most of them using upcycled parts from various machines. Your own imagination and skills with a soldering iron will play a role in how elaborate you make your own solar AC unit. You may even design something that is marketable to make a few extra dollars.

With each passing year, an innovative method is developed to include solar energy. Air conditioners, outdoor camping showers, ovens, toys, boat engines and more have been adapted to utilize one of the most abundant sources of power humankind has discovered. What was once an expensive addition for the upper class has decreased in cost to the point where nearly everyone can benefit in one form or another from solar energy. Imagine what will be developed tomorrow.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.

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

Is Humanity to Blame for the Scarcity of Water?

wasting water

 

Although skeptics don’t believe humans are the cause of global warming, or climate change, we may be responsible for the scarcity of our own water supplies. Water does more for our community than simply keep us alive. We use this liquid component in a variety of tasks from flushing waste down to sewers to cleaning toxic chemicals to the excessive use each time we frack for gas. Instead of looking for alternatives and examining how our actions affect communities and the planet, humans are more drawn to the quick and easy way to accomplish goals.

1. Deforestation – Less rainfall in particular areas of the globe can be correlated with the loss of plant life within those areas. The Amazon Rainforest, while being a prime example, isn’t the only area that has seen diminished rainfall from the lack of trees and plants. Deforestation has been greatly impacted by humans because of the need for cattle ranches, paper and other materials that could have been produced using other methods.

2. Cleaning and Waste Removal – Depending on the style of your toilet, you can use 3.5 to seven gallons of water with each flush. In a family environment, more than 100 gallons of water can be flushed down the drain each and every day. The water that fills this receptacle is the same water that we drink. While this is aside from the installation of “low-flow” toilets, showers and baths can consume a great deal of water for the family environment as well. While this depends on the shower head that is installed, a single 10-minute shower can use up 50 gallons of water. In a family environment, more than 350 gallons of water can be consumed just in the bathroom on a daily basis.

3. Fracking – Millions of gallons of water can be used in any particular “fracking” job in order to improve drilling for oil and natural gas. Although some of this waste water is recycled, a large portion of it is lost. Instead of investing in improved ways to drive our automobiles or keep the steam turbine generators spinning for power, we squander the very component life depends on even though droughts run rampant across the plains.

4. Existing Technology –
We have existing technology that can help drought-affected areas to support life, if not for the implications of a dollar amount. Large and small scale water condensers are being developed that can essentially pull the water right out of the air. Since it costs so much money to build these units, may don’t see them as a practical way to survive – as drought causes crops to suffer.

5. Lack of Effort – In areas that are affected by floods and where the humidity is so high, why can’t this extra influx of water be piped to areas that are suffering? Because it wouldn’t be cost efficient to do so. It would require effort by local and federal governments in order to provide a viable method to keep the populations alive with the one component that humans cannot survive without.

Climate change on a global scale may be caused by a natural occurrence of the planet, but humans do their part to be as detrimental to their own survival. Instead of being a species that cares for survival, we have become one that depends on the size of the pocket book. If it’s not profitable, it must not be the correct path, right?

 

 

This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from ChangeOfAddressForm.com. You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com.

 

Realistic Reasons to Back Solar Power

Realistic Reasons to Back Solar Power

To think that humans know everything there is to know about science and the natural evolution of our planet is nothing short of asinine. Technology has been developed to allow us to understand our position in the cosmos better, but should we call ourselves experts? There is still so much to learn about how our planet behaves. Although global warming extremists push the envelope on reasons why we should invest in renewable energies, there is a truth behind all of the rhetoric. Our current methods are grossly antiquated.

1. Renewable Resource – The Sun will continue to produce consumable power to humans for billions of years. As soon as it’s done producing power, we’re going to have more pressing problems than global warming. Even cloudy days are able to produce enough power to maintain a home. It is a resource that everyone can agree that we have in an abundant supply.

2. Oil Wars – Regardless of personal views on the economics of the world, were are riled by those who would dare cut off our oil supply. We are willing to sacrifice lives over dead plants and life-forms. If we were to do away with oil as a whole, would there still be a cause for war? It would no longer be a driving force to have relations with a country we know to be corrupt. The demand would be gone, as would the power these countries have over a large portion of the world.

3. Costs – Even with subsidies and tax credits, one would still have to live in their homes for more than 10 years in order to experience the benefits from solar power thanks to the effects of financing. However, the cost of photovoltaic equipment manufacturing has already began to decrease since 2012. As many locations around the globe are looking more and more at this renewable energy source, more innovative technologies supporting photovoltaic equipment is being produced in order to reduce costs of installation in order to entice sales. Before long, everyone will have one – much like cell phones morphing into smartphones.

4. Less Dangerous – Nuclear power plants are catastrophes waiting to happen. A simple breakdown of a nuclear power plant can render the entire location unlivable by human standards. Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi disasters are prime examples of how little we truly care about human life over the need to power our computers and cash registers. If a solar panel breaks, it could take a matter of a day or two to replace it without having to call in a HAZMAT crew.

5. Cumulative – For every household and business that erects a solar array to put power back into the grid, more power is conserved reducing the chances of brownouts. For every kilowatt hour produced by these units, one kilowatt hour can be used at your neighbor’s house. Theoretically, many solar arrays within an area should decrease the electric bills of everyone since less power is being consumed as a whole.

Set aside the views of those who propagate global warming as a scare tactic. There are real life reasons why we should be investing in alternative energy sources, none of which concern the natural evolution of Earth. The planet will be here long after humans have perished. We should be more concerned with saving ourselves.

Author Bio:

This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.

 

Electronic Medical Records and Personal Health Records

With the ever expanding Internet opening possibilities across various forms of business, we find ourselves in an age where information is readily available at our fingertips. Databases have been built regarding driving records, real estate, education, and more to provide a more efficient and less time consuming practice of data entry. Electronic medical records are no different and could be more important since the information is invaluable. There is a wide scope of possibilities for using electronic medical records.

1. Instant Sharing – In some care facilities, methods exist to share a patient’s information with another facility over the Internet in a different city. This could prove to be vital if the information requested pertains to a life threatening circumstance.

2. Clicks Away – With electronic medical and personal health records, the information is just a few clicks away. Instead of sifting through files and folders to find an individual’s information, it could just be a matter of entering a name search.

3. Billing – Most facilities have implemented some kind of a billing system for patients. Many of these billing applications can be used in conjunction with a medical record for further data analysis later on.

4. Web-Based – Data centers and the Cloud have increased efficiency of sharing patient information with practitioners around the globe. Some of these electronic records are based on the Internet alleviating a facility’s need for a sufficient data server. With the inclusion of images, x-rays, and more a server can get quite crowded with data in a largely populated area.

5. Cross Platform – Electronic medical and personal health records can be accessed across multiple devices. As some are web-based, a web browser on a tablet or phone would suffice. However, some of these EMR developers have made apps for Android and iPad for a more efficient tablet use. These apps connect to the database on the Internet without the need of a browser and all pertinent information can be viewed.

6. Prescriptions – Advancements in technology have allowed some of the EMR applications the ability to send e-prescriptions to participating vendors. Programs such as Practice Fusion incorporate a variety of tools to create greater efficiency in the facility including messaging, reporting, and billing.

7. Quick Entry – Many EMR programs allow a practitioner the ability to simply click on symptoms to build a record reducing the amount of typing. This could also reduce miscommunications and illegible comments about how an individual patient has been treated in the past.

The days of old where we cut down trees to create paper for our records is slowly coming to an end. It was a method that worked, but technology and the need for efficiency are growing ever closer to triumph over archaic methods of communication. With a little ingenuity and innovation, we could very well create a single database that can be used to provide every piece of information about a specific individual.

About the Author:

Ken Myers is an expert adviser on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

Photovoltaic PV Solar Panels on the rise

Lowered costs and increasing efficiency have helped the steady increase in the use of Solar PV panels.
There have been some incredible advances in the methods used to capture solar energy.  Solar paint and thin plastic cells are some of the new technologies but PV panels are still the most efficient way to capture energy from the sun.

The modular nature of solar cells are also being used in more creative and aesthetically pleasing ways. Each cell must have a separate connection because stringing them together has the same effect as Christmas lighting, if one goes out, there all do. Being modular, however, increases the versatility of the panel placement.

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Increased efficiency has also made the technology workable in areas that don’t receive a huge amount of direct sunlight. Solar power is a small thing that most landowners can take advantage of to reduce costs and stabilize energy bills.

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