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:


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.


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.

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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

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


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

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 You can get in touch with him at

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.


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.

Siemens Performance on Renewable Energy Market

Guest post by Maria Kruk, an author for

Siemens is one of the companies, which are focused on the innovative fields, as well as on markets with a good potential for expanding. These features are essential for renewable energy industries. In this context, Siemens finds it as an attractive market to invest money and technologies. Production of renewable energy and electricity became one more industry the company works in, along with electronics, IT technologies, medicine and urban infrastructure. Siemens is interested in specific branches of renewable energy sector, related research and innovations, which, by the way, receive nearly 4 billion dollars annually. Energy-saving technologies are of big priority, being the company’s goal all over the world.

Siemens Wind Power is the most advanced alternative energy branch of the company. About 7000 wind power generators are operated globally with total capacity of 6000 MW. The statistics features that such energy production can provide for 7 million households and prevent 8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Especially, Siemens is focused on European countries, putting its projects into operation in Denmark, Germany, Northern Ireland, etc. Much of attention was paid to company’s innovative project, executed in collaboration with Hydreo, – floating wind power stations that can alter their location in order to get matching air flows. In addition, Siemens is engaged in construction of such wind farms as Teesside (UK), Cape Wind and Block Island (USA), Meerwind Sud/Ost (Germany), Horns Rev II (Denmark) and may others.

Hydro power production is one more industry Siemens is interested in. To provide some details, construction of hydro power stations is more expensive, but energy prime cost is lower. Therefore, energy demand outranges company’s expenses on hydro power projects. Since late 1970s hydroelectric power has become one of the investment items of the company. To be more précised, Siemens AG started to supply generators to the biggest hydro power station in the world – Itapúa, on Brazilian-Paraguayan border. To date, Siemens deals with technological developments for small hydropower plants up to 30 MW, as well as with reconstruction of existing power plants. In fact, in recent years Russian rivers alerted an attention of company’s executives. Depending on the power plant, Siemens offers to equip the turbine with adjustable or fixed blades of all currently available designs. Technologies introduced by the company ensure a high safety margin of small hydroelectric power stations and low operating costs.

Naturally, solar power is a crucial part on renewable energy market, but not for Siemens as once could guess. The key thing is that solar power was much of company’s priority during decades, until the 2012, when Siemens refused to succeed on the solar power market. In particular, the company refused to manufacture solar panels m and to convert solar energy into electricity, mainly because of price pressure on the market. Since then wind and hydro power remain primary renewable energy targets of Siemens, which are promised to provide 30 per cent of energy worldwide by 2030.

Interesting Bio-fuel solutions


Guest Post by Maria Kruk, an author for

Search of new renewable energy solutions has embraced most of the countries recently. Indeed, growth of oil and gas prices and shortage of fuel deposits contributed a lot in referring to alternative power facilities, such as solar stations, wind farms and tidal power systems. However, these are the prerogative of those lands possessing suitable climate conditions and favoring national policy. On the contrary, the other states have many benefits for biofuels production, converting wastes and unnecessary materials into promising energy resources. Some examples testify on how creative and effective new technologies might be.

Germany is a vivid example of how biofuels might invest in national energy balance. For several decades German scientists have been working on biofuel technologies, and some of the concepts alerted governmental attention. To date, economic discussions are engaged in related issues, which are focused on how to make biofuels cheaper.  One of the received results is directed on car fuels production out of agricultural and wood wastes. The released technology features synthetic gasoline made of sawdust and straw, including two major stages: gathering basic material straightforward on farms and timber factories and gasoline production on the plant. Its price is expected to be 0,5 Euro per liter and the first supplies are scheduled on 2012.

Wageningen University and Research Centre in Ukraine is working on the concept of thermal and electrical energy from biomass gathered in Chernobyl restricted zone. It is appropriate to mention that this country still copes with consequences of tragic events of April 26th 1986, when there was a huge explosion on the local nuclear plant. However, biomass is offered to be cultivated on the lands cleared from radioactive effects.  All in all, the idea of any activity in Chernobyl zone is quite unpleasing and it might influence negatively on reputation of Ukrainian businessmen. Many scientists conclude that this area should be a testing ground for scientific experiments and investigations for many decades in future.

In contrast, Ukraine can boast of certain biomass advancement. It is the first country in Eastern Europe to establish a production of mobile industrial facilities that convert organic wastes into fuel pellets. These biofuel complexes, called “Forward”, are embedded on the truck platforms. Forward’s average capacity is about 2 tons per hour. The other advantage of these mobile platforms is their cost, which twice cheaper than foreign equipment – 300 thousand dollars.

During recent decades many countries in Europe opened huge biodiesel plants, using different primary materials. One of them is located in Spanish port Ferrol with a total capacity of 200 thousand tons of biodiesel fuels per year. It produces biodiesel from refined and unrefined vegetable oil, mainly soybean and canola oils. Giant biomass recycling plant was put in commission in Kalundborg city in Denmark. This facility performs several important tasks, which include recycling wheat straw, corn stalks and cobs, sugar bagasse and grass; usage of waste steam in biomass production and manufacturing lignin biofuel. Palm oil and rapeseed oil and animal fats are used in three biofuel plants in Rotterdam, which belong to Neste Oil Corp (Finland).  Their total capacity is 800 thousand tons of biodiesel annually.


Tidal Power Then and Now

A while back I wrote a post on Tidal Barrages ( Here is another way to generate energy from tides.

Probably, everybody is aware of possibilities of energy production in case of extinction and depletion of fuel deposits.  The solution is found in renewable energy due to multiple opportunities provided by natural and environmental conditions. Tidal energy is the one secured by both cosmic gravitation of the Sun and the Moon, and oceanic spaces, of course. However, not all the regions on Earth can boast of favorable and promising tidal indicators. That is why it is better to feature on France and the English Channel as an area where tidal energy generation was organized for the first time and where the most powerful tidal station is going to be constructed this year.

It is interesting to know that the first registries of tidal energy usage are dated back to the 10th -11th centuries. There were lots of windmills and sawmills in England and France, which used tidal energy in industrial purposes. However, only one of these two states might be marked with erection of the first tidal energy system in the world. It was Rance Tidal Power Station, constructed on the estuary of Rance River (Brittany Peninsula) in 1966. Its capacity is pretty astonishing – 240 MW produced by 24 tidal generators, – which is preconditioned by comparatively high tides reaching 13,5 meters. The significance of Rance station is still of high value even nowadays, contributing 0,012% to energy demand in the country. Most of the power generated by the station is used during peak seasons (544 million kWh per year in total). However, high prices obstruct the enlargement of tidal energy industry. Speaking of energy production in France, nuclear power production keeps the lowest cost. In this case, the renovation of the Rance station is getting more appropriate and promising.

On the contrary, in 2012 Frenchmen might see the most powerful tidal project actualized. In particular, it is associated with the station near the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany. The project was assigned to Irish company OpenHydro Group Ltd. and French company EDF, which already accomplished some magnificent and profitable projects on tidal energy in North America and the United Kingdom. Paimpol-Bréhat power station was designed in 2004 (estimated cost was 55 million dollars) and in 2008 the construction was started.

The basis of new tidal station is comprised of four large turbines with a weight of nearly 850 tones each. They are going to be established near the coast, attached to an anchor on the depth of 115 meters. The diameter of each turbine is 21, 5 meters. It is appropriate to note that tidal turbines have certain advantages in opposite to wind and solar cells, including invisibility under the water, quiet operation and less impact on environment. And, besides, a new station can provide energy for more than 4 thousand houses in the region of Paimpol-Bréhat.

Maria Kruk, an author for

Eco-houses are on their way


Construction of environmentally friendly houses is a new trend in modern architecture, which benefits both to art and energy efficiency. Multiple definitions might be provided to enclose main purposes and peculiarities of such housebuilding, but the prime idea is finding a way to live in harmony with nature. To give some details, there are some requirements if to construct an eco-house.

Firstly, it should be made of local materials, which are low-cost in the context of production, processing, transportation methods and letting to apply the house building technology without heavy equipment. In this way, after accomplishment of exploit period the materials used might be utilized just on the site. Small financial expenses facilitate the availability of ecohouses to the majority of people. Secondly, energy efficiency systems contribute to living in a harmony with surrounding environment. In particular, they include solar panels embedded on the roofs, small wind turbines, geothermal power generators, etc. Thirdly, residence in ecohouses stipulates the engagement in essential biointensive technologies usage, which emphasizes processing and recycling of organic wastes and improvement of soil fertility. In the majority of cases it is associated with agricultural activity featuring cultivation of compost plants and organic farming. Ecohouse must ensure the accumulation of environmental resource area, on which it is built.

There are several magnificent examples of ecohouse building, which alert an attention by brave ideas and original construction. One of the recent advancements is observed in Peking, where this architect trend is performed not by single house, but the whole apartment complex. To be more précised, Linked Hybrid (the project name) is based on the geothermal power generators: the heating is provided by 660 geothermal springs located on the 100-meter depth. The entire complex consists of 8 linked buildings, maintaining 750 apartments, cinema, school, hotel, sport facilities and department stores. The total area is 220 thousand square meters. The other green technologies, embedded in Linked Hybrid Project, are recirculation of water and greenery on roofs. Hence, ecohouse building involves not only separate suburban houses, but the apartment complexes in the hearts of urban living nowadays.

It is also appropriate to name the best example of ecohouse construction in the world. Lumenhaus in the United States is a true reflection of scientific breakthrough and exquisite architect style. The achievements of Lumanhaus include low cost, simplicity and, of course, energy efficiency. The energy support of the building is ensured by 45 solar panels, implemented on the rooftop and along the perimeter (the total area is 72 square meters). The architect merits were estimated from the point of ergonomics: the house is opened and spacious enough to change a room configuration in correspondence to owner’s preference.

Notwithstanding architect art engagement, ecohouses appear to be systems with positive ecological resource. Therefore, their main value is in establishing a compromise with nature and further improvement of human-environment relationship.

This has been a guest post by Maria Kruk, an author for

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