Great Spaces: Conditioner love

Yes, you can have a cold house without the big bills — and that’s not hot air

By David Taffet

Perhaps the one thing we loathe the most besides triple digit temps in summer is that dreaded electric bill. The air conditioner is a must for summer in Texas, but the wallet sure takes a beating. One local expert recommends these simple tips to help you keep your cool and some green.

Todd Ylen of TNS Mechanical in Arlington said that only half the air conditioning complaints his company receives could be traced to the main unit. The first thing he checks is the overall cleanliness of what he calls “the guts.” He recommends a professional cleaning with caustic chemicals.

“It should be done professionally,” he says, “The chemicals won’t hurt the plants but it can melt the rubber off your sneakers.”

During the season, he said, don’t be afraid to wash the unit with a hose, but not a pressure washer. A garden hose will not damage an outdoor air conditioning system. They’re made to withstand gale-force winds.

Keep grass and weeds off outdoor condensers. They clog the system and decrease efficiency.

Next, Ylen said he checks the house.

“How efficient is the ductwork?” he says. “How efficient is your house?”

The outer lining of much of the ductwork installed in the 1980s has deteriorated. Squirrels, raccoons and other animals that get into the attic can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the ducts as well.

Cold air will blow in the attic but never reach the living areas of the house if the ducts are torn or worn. He recommends modern, high-insulated ductwork.

Next, he suggests an energy audit company to check for leaks around doors and windows.

“Seal the house,” he says. It pays off in lower energy bills quickly.

And ventilate, he said. Ylen called the old whirlybirds on most roofs worthless.

He recommends solar-powered, fan-driven ventilators. A year ago, he said, they were $1,800. Today they sell for $400, an amount that will pay for itself in one season. He calls it an upfront investment that continues to pay off by lowering electric bills on air conditioning and never costing a cent to operate.

Filters should be changed monthly. Dirty filters prevent the system from drawing air easily, making it work harder and use more energy.
Programmable thermostats are also useful in keeping the system from cooling the house when not needed.

Ylen calls radiant barriers ineffective with a 50-year payback, but insulation very useful.

“A preventive maintenance program is crucial,” he says. He sums up his energy-saving tips to all homeowners — insulate, ventilate and stop air leaks.

TNS Mechanical services homes throughout Texas and has other tips at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Watch: NYC Gay Couple Receives Hundreds of Letters to Santa, Opts to Perform Christmas Miracles


Miracle on 22nd Street. This is a beautiful story. Just watch it.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

HRC Governor Receives Community Service Award from Orlando Area LGBT Organization

HRC Governor Jennifer Foster will receive the Metropolitan Business Association’s 2010 Debbie Simmons Community Service Award.

The Debbie Simmons Community Service Award is given each year to “an individual who has demonstrated integrity and leadership in their business endeavors while supporting and promoting the fight for LGBT equality.”

In addition to being a founding member of HRC’s Orlando Steering Committee, Jennifer has been a tireless advocate for LGBT rights in Orlando through her organizing efforts fighting against anti-marriage opponents in the state and her support for fair minded local, state and federal candidates. Jennifer’s spirit, energy, sense of humor, and smile have opened minds and hearts in Orlando and beyond.

The HRC family is so proud of Jennifer for this well-deserved recognition.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld receives Award for Excellence in LGBT Media at NLGJA

Kerry Eleveld, whose reporting and commentary at The Advocate are often linked to here at the Blend, received a well-deserved award from her peers. It’s always good to know that she’s in the White House Press Briefing room to show what it takes to get a straight — ahem — answer out of Robert Gibbs. (NLGJA):

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate has been selected to be honored with the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media. Named for the late Newsweek journalist and founding editor of Out magazine, the award recognizes outstanding contributions of a journalist working in the LGBT media.

Of Eleveld’s work, judges said: “Eleveld needs to be commended for pushing for a D.C. bureau for The Advocate,” as well as “From her unique place inside the White House, she’s consistently making news and controlling the direction of news stories.”

Having an out reporter focusing on our issues in that briefing room has made a huge difference in how this administration and the rest of the journalists in the room perceive the community. It inevitably draws more attention and competition for the MSM to cover our issues better — and more accurately. And having spent some time around Kerry, she is never “off-duty.” The above photo was taken in Maine during a party; I don’t think she filed any stories from there.

One thing I’d like to mention Kerry has to walk a fine line; while she is recognized for her reporting with this award, she is equally well-known for her “View from Washington” column, her commentary on issues (including some of the stories she covers), where she is able to give more in-depth perspective. This dual role is actually a more beneficial and honest presentation to the community – the fantasy line of “journalistic objectivity” is crossed all the time by the MSM; why not just do the right thing and label reporting and commentary. What a concept.

Congratulations, Kerry. Don’t let the accolades go to your head – even though Gibbs is still scared of your raised hand in the briefing room. Joe has more, including video of Kerry sparring with Gibbs.

The other award winners are below the fold…


The 2010 NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Awards:

Journalist of the Year Award

Winner: Randy Gener, American Theatre magazine

Honorable mention: Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle

Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media

Winner: Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate

Excellence in News Writing Award

Winner: Jen Colletta, Philadelphia Gay News, “Researchers: Gays Excluded from Clinical Trials”

Honorable mention: Phillip Zonkel, Press-Telegram, “Suffering in Silence”

Excellence in Feature Writing Award

Winner: Benoit Denizet-Lewis , The New York Times Magazine, “Coming Out in Middle School”

Honorable mention: Alfred P. Doblin, The Record, “Stonewall Started It”

Excellence in Opinion Writing Award

Winner: Maya Rupert , LA Watts Times, “I Believe in America ”

Honorable mention: LZ Granderson , CNN, “Gay Is Not the New Black”

Excellence in Network Television Award

Winner: Bud Bultman, Rose Arce, Dave Timko, Amanda Sealy, and Steve Keller, CNN, “Her Name Was Steven”

Honorable mention: Jacqueline Gares and Amber Hall, In the Life, “40th Anniversary of Stonewall”

Excellence in Radio Award

Winner: Jad Abumrad and Aaron Scott, Radiolab, “New Stu”

Honorable mention: Tim Curran, Aaron McQuade and Dave Gorab; Sirius XM OutQ News; “Stonewall 40 Minutes” series

Excellence in Online Journalism Award

Winner: Dave Singleton and Team,, “The Stonewall Riots: 40 Years Later”

Honorable mention: Jessica Bennett, Kathy Jones, Margaret Keady, Jennifer Molina, Monica Parra and Carl Sullivan ;; “From Stonewall to Mainstream”

Excellence in Photojournalism Award

Winner: Scott A. Drake, Philadelphia Gay News, “PDA With a Purpose”

Excellence in HIV/AIDS Coverage Award

Winner: Michel Martin and the staff of Tell Me More, Tell Me More/NPR

Honorable mention: Jennifer Morton, POZ, “How Stigma Kills”

Excellence in Student Journalism Award

Winner: Todd Cross , Syracuse University multimedia graduate student, “Transgender: The Path to One’s Identity”

Honorable mention: Laura Lofgren, Fusion magazine, “The Importance of Being Aaron”

Founded in 1990, NLGJA is the leading professional organization for LGBT journalists with 20 chapters nationwide, as well as members around the globe. This year, NLGJA celebrates two decades of advocating for fair and accurate reporting on LGBT issues

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright