The Spotlight will highlight topics spanning industry news, safety, product and equipment reviews, codes and much more! We look forward to a dialogue with you.

Stinky Bugs Invasion

Thursday, October 16, 2014

They’re creepy and crawly, but they don’t bite. However, they do stink. And they want in your home. This winter you will be noticing the brown marmorated stink bugs, of BMSB, in your home, and in your yard.


Why are stink bugs here?

They’re here simply because they are cold and hungry. They aren’t hiding either; they just hang out there on the walls, windows, screens, vents, and in your attics.

What can we do about these smelly bugs?

Unfortunately there is no sure-fire way to get rid of these pests. This week, Oregon Department of Agriculture workers are setting up to 50 traps in the hopes that they will find a way to get them out.


The good news:

Stink bugs are easy to catch and they won’t bite or sting you!


The bad news:

Not only have stink bugs made your home theirs; they can also cause major damage to your home garden and crops. It is possible that these bugs could waste to commercial fruit, nuts and vegetables worth more than $700 million.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Halloween is just a few weeks away! Not everyone likes being scared out of their minds and not everyone likes dressing up, but everyone likes candy, am I right?!

Americans alone will spend $6.9 billion this year on this holiday. WOW. 2.6 billion dollars spent on costumes, 2.08 billion dollars spent on candy, 330 million spent on dog costumes, and the rest is spent in on Halloween parties and decorations. That’s the second most expensive holiday, next to Christmas. If candy corn was laid out flat, they would wrap around the world over four times. FOUR. Now that is a lot of candy corns, over 30 million pounds actually. 

Out of all 365 days of the year, all 5 top selling candy days are in October. On Halloween alone, the average American eats about 3.5 pounds of candy. Not that doesn't sound like a lot, but it is more than your own brain weighs! 3.5 pounds of candy is over 7000 calories, the same as 15 cheese burgers, and you have to walk 180 miles to burn all that off.

Although the odds of someone actually tampering with Halloween candy are slim-to-none, most people would recommend that parents check their kids' Halloween candies before letting them dig in. Although you don't need to have your candy x-rayed at the local hospital or airport (and many of them offer the service), you should throw out any candy that's unwrapped, homemade, or has a torn wrapper, just to be on the safe side.

Fall And Winter Savings

Thursday, September 25, 2014
Fall is approaching quickly, and winter will be here before we know it. And we all know keeping your house warm in those cold months can be quite costly, so we came up with some ways to keep you warm, and your wallet happy.

Winterize your windows! Sounds expensive right? Wrong. Purchase a window insulator kit. The entire kit is a plastic sheet with a window safe tape on one side. They usually cost anywhere from 5-20 dollars and that covers multiple windows. Just stick on the plastic on the inside of your window and apply heat (a hairdryer works best). Depending on how thin your windows are, you can apply two sheets. Just remove in the spring!

Reverse your ceiling fan! We usually use our ceiling fans in the summer, but this winter, use your fan to keep the heat from rising. On most fans, there is a small switch on the fan to reverse the direction in which the blades are rotating. Turn the fan on the lowest setting to reduce the feeling of the air movement.  And just remember, clockwise in winter, counterclockwise in summer.

Make sure your furnace works! Turn your furnace on just to double check it still works before winter hits and your furnace-less. It may smell a little dusty but the smell shouldn’t last long. If it does, call a professional. A dirty furnace filter will cause a slight air shortage causing you to spend more money and get less heat. It’s a good idea to get a new filter annually so you can get all the heat you can.

Bake! Use your oven. After you are done with dinner, cookies, whatever, crack your oven. Especially if your house is smaller, you will definitely feel a difference in temperature.  That oven gets hot so put that heat to good use. Other than baking cookies that is!

Turn the heat down! No, don’t turn it off. Burrrr! But, why heat your house when you’re either gone or asleep most the day anyways?  Turn it down to 60 when you’re at work, 60 when you go to bed and save about 10% this winter while doing so. If that is too chilly, invest in a down comforter, fleece sheets and, use a space heater. Keep your bedroom doors open to get the heat from other parts of the house, and close the vents in rooms you rarely go in so that heat goes into your room.

Working Safely in the Heat

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Summer is finally here!!!

Now that summer is finally here, make sure you are taking the steps to stay safe in the summer heat.

  • Drink water often, even you aren't thirsty
  • Rest in the shade to cool down
  • Report heat symptoms early
  • Know what to do in an emergency

REMEMBER - If you are new to working in the heat, you will need to give your body time to adjust!

Heat Exhaustion, know the signs!

  • Increased thirst
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Dizziness, headache or fainting
  • Irritability or confusion

BE AWARE! Protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat stress. Heat stroke, the most dangerous heat related illness, can come on fast! So remember to take care of yourself and know the signs.

Prevent Heat Related Illness:

  • Take breaks in a cool, shady or air conditioned location
  • Drink water every 15 minutes. Your body loses water faster than normal when you are working in the heat
  • Wear breathable clothes, like cotton. Avoid non-breathing synthetic clothes

In the event of a heat related emergency call 911 right away and notify a supervisor! Move the sick worker to a cool shaded area and cool them down by fanning them or even spraying them down with water.

Check out the CDC website to learn more about Heat Stress.


The Ps and Cs of Air Conditioners

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

As the hot summer months roll on, you start to find yourself spending more time mopping your brow of sweat than actually getting any work done. If you don’t already have one, I bet you’ve thought about installing an air conditioner. I imagine you’re all nodding your heads in agreement right now!


Air Conditioners. They sound like the Oasis for humid homes everywhere. Unfortunately, like everything in life, there are Pros and Cons to having an air conditioner in your home, so before you turn into a summer snowman, let’s look at good and bad of having an air conditioner!



The hum of the air conditioner drowns out outside sounds (ie. Drunks on the street or early morning garbage trucks)

Hosting parties with your friends/family will be a lot more enjoyable

Everyday household needs like cooking or cleaning will be done with more vigor and enthusiasm




When you go out into the heat, you are more affected by it and susceptible to heat stroke

Your energy bill will increase, depending on how often and how long your AC is left running

Traditional AC’s are considered not eco-friendly and in this changing society, other alternatives are becoming available



Still considering an air conditioner for your home? Be sure to look at the makes and models that are out there and find the one(s) that suits your home best!

Smoke Alarm Safety

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Clear the air with these smoke alarm facts!


Did you know?

Three out of every five home fire deaths happen in homes where there are no smoke alarms present, or no working smoke alarms. Most home fire deaths occur because people are sleeping when a fire breaks out.


Why take the chance?

By having a working smoke alarm, the chances that it will wake up the occupants of the home and allow them to get out safely, is greatly increased! Prepare your home against the dangers of smoke inhalation with the right equipment, proper installation and an exit plan. 



Types of Smoke Detectors

There are many smoke alarm brands, but which is the best? All of these brands fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric. Each one detects a different type of fire – but since no one can predict what type of fire may start, the USFA recommends that every home install both types of alarms or a dual sensor smoke alarm.


A dual sensor alarm contains both photoelectric and ionization sensors. There are even smoke alarms equipped with strobe lights and vibrations to alert those who are unable to hear a standard alarm. 





Where To Place Smoke Alarms

Be sure to place an alarm everywhere that needs protection – every floor! Each bedroom and hallway outside of the bedrooms needs a smoke alarm on the ceiling. The manufacturer’s instructions will offer more assistance on the best place to put your alarm. Know when to call in an expert - only qualified electricians should install hardwired smoke alarms. 





Create Exit Plans

Finally, take the time to create and learn exit plans with the whole family. Every room should have an exit plan – the quickest and safest way to get outside. Be sure to practice these exit plans, especially if you have younger children! This will help them to remember the exit strategies in case of an emergency.


Keep it safe and remember to make Summer 2014 memorable!

Solar Panels

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Solar Panels: Decisions, Decisions

 Solar panels are a growing trend and are popping up on houses and business structures all the time. Are you looking to get into this trend but don’t know what type of solar panel would be right for you? Let’s talk about some of the different solar panels on the market and what types of situations they would be best in!


Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)

These manufactured solar cells are also known as thin-film photovoltaic cells (TFPV). There are different types of TFSC’s depending on what type of material is deposited onto the substrate:

  • Amorphous Silicon (a-Si)
  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  • Copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS)
  • Organic photovoltaic cells (OPC)

Prototypes of TFSC have reached efficiencies between 7 – 13% and the market for them grew by over 50% in 5 years. The advantages of TFSC is that they can be mass-produced so generally the cost is lower than those that have to be made to order. They are more eye appealing to look at and they can also be made to flex. Unfortunately TFSC’s take up a lot of space and just do not make sense for a residential home situation. They also come with a shorter warranty and tend to degrade faster than other solar panels.

Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

These types of solar cells may also be called single-crystalline silicon and are easily recognized because of their external even coloring and uniform look. They are made from silicon ingots, which are cylindrical in shape. To lower their costs and optimize their performance, four sides are cut of the cylinder which creates silicon wafers. Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest rating of efficiency and are made out of the highest-grade silicon. They run typically in the 15-20% range, which also make them the most expensive solar panel to purchase.

They are very space efficient and can produce up to four times the amount of electricity that thin-film solar panels do. Monocrystalline solar panels also have the longest life span and warranty usually covers them for up to 25 years. If these panels get covered by shade, dirt or snow then the entire circuit can breakdown.


Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

May also be called polysilicon or multi-crystalline silicon. These solar panels to not require cutting like the monocrystalline solar cells. Raw silicon is poured into a square mold, cooled and then cut into perfectly square wafers, so there is no silicon going to waste. They efficiency of these solar panels runs between 13-16% which makes them not as energy efficient as the monocrystalline solar cells. Polycrystalline solar cells take up more space than monocrystalline in order to get the same amount of energy, and they do not have the eye appealing look that monocrystalline and TFSC panels have.

When you are looking to incorporate solar panels into your homes energy plan, you need to look at two important issues before choosing the best solar panel for you;

Space – If you live in a residential area, where space to install solar panels is limited; then you will want to look into crystalline-based solar panels since there are very few providers that currently offer thin-film solar panels to residential home owners. Monocrystalline panels take of the least amount of space for the amount of energy they provide.

Cost – Solar panels can get expensive, but they can pay off in the long-run. If you are looking to keep it as cheap as possible then looking into thin-film solar panels would be your best option. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most expensive, as they are the highest energy producing panel.


There are many factors to think about when it comes to choosing and installing solar panels into your home or office structure. If you are unsure of what to choose, be sure to do your research and ask the experts!

Summer Hazards

Friday, June 06, 2014

Summer vacation is upon us and there will be children out and about, enjoying their break from school. In this blog we are going to take a break from our usual topics to touch on some summer hazards that children may come across and what parents should look for in order to keep their children safe!

We touched on drowning along with electrical shock in our last blog, so we are going to focus on four more hazards to be on the lookout for.

Bicycle Injuries

Broken bones are the most common injuries that come from falling from a bicycle, but without proper safety equipment, some injuries can be fatal. Over 26,000 traumatic brain injuries happen each year from children falling from bicycles while not wearing a proper helmet. Head injuries are life threatening and can be deadly. These traumatic injuries can happen in your own driveway so make sure your child has a proper fitting helmet and don’t allow them to ride on the street until they are in their pre-teen/early teen years and properly understand the rules of the road.


Children falling from playground equipment, trampolines or in the house, account for over 2.8 million injuries per year and 4% of child deaths. Make sure that all windows have proper screens and be sure to have proper supervision when children are playing on any equipment, especially supervision on younger children and toddlers. Be sure that no children are climbing higher than 4 feet without proper assistance and that all playground equipment has proper cushioning and there are no exposed sharp edges or bolts.


Children can get burns from campfires, cooking or fireworks. In your home, make sure to have stove guards, smoke alarms and do not have home fireworks, go and watch ones run by professionals. Burns cause almost 9% unintentional deaths in children.


Medications, cleaners, cosmetics and citronella oil are all examples of poisons that children can get into and cause harmful reactions or death. Over 300 children are treated for poisoning each day and at least 2 of them die. Poisoning causes 3.9% of deaths in children. Be sure to keep chemicals out of sight and look for any chemicals within reach. Be sure to keep the Poison Control Center number by your phone.  1 – 800 – 222 – 1222


Don’t let your child become one of these statistics. Supervision is KEY.

Be safe, have fun and enjoy the summer!

Summer Fun

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The WARMER it gets the CLOSER it gets...

And you KNOW what that means.....

June, July & August are packed full with fun water activities, family vacations, and some much needed R&R!!

Water activities are great ways you can cool off and keep active during these next few months, which makes this is the perfect time to remind our fellow readers about the simple tips that we all easily forget on the long wait to summertime.





"TEN people die EVERYDAY from drowning!!! One in five of those people are CHILDREN ages fourteen and younger. Drowning ranks 5th among the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in the United States." -Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A less common, but incredibly deadly danger when it comes to swimming, is electrical shock. Pool lights can have faulty wiring or can have products that are not properly grounded. If a person is not killed immediately from the shock, they can be rendered immobile and unable to call for help, resulting in drowning.

When looking for electrical hazards, keep in mind:

-          Underwater lighting/faulty wiring

-          Aging or neglected wiring

-          Underground pumps, washers or vacuums

-          Electrical products near a pool that could potentially fall in (IE. Radios)

Always be ALERT & ACTIVE during all water activities. It can make the difference!!

(Interested in more facts regarding Water-related injuries in the United States? Check out this articleUnintentional Drowning: Get the Facts)

Make pool safety a priority in 2014!


Monday, May 26, 2014

Remember having a nightlight as a child? The light that kept away the monsters in the closet or under the bed? Outdoor lighting is essentially the “nightlight” for adults.


Outdoor lighting is an important safety feature of your home, but it doesn’t mean you should be spending an arm and a leg on your energy bill! By using energy efficient light bulbs and utilizing solar lighting where possible, you’re able to reduce your energy bill while still keeping your home and family safe.


Why Have Outdoor Lighting?

There’s a pretty simple answer. Safety. Outdoor lighting allows you to safely walk around your home at night, see pathways and walkways, be able to know who’s at the door before you open it and it lights up decks, patios and pool areas so you know who may be lurking around your home. Outdoor lighting is a criminal deterrent because it is so easy for someone to notice a criminal running around in the light and call the police.


Save Money

By using solar lighting wherever possible, this allows you to cut down on the amount of money you are spending on your electrical bill. If you are unable to use solar due to lack of sun lit areas, you can use energy efficient light bulbs and set up automated lights to cut back on wasted energy.  

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) use up to 75% less electricity than standard light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer than your regular lights. There are specially designed CFL lights for outdoor use so be sure to read the packages and get the best light bulb you need!

Placement of Outdoor Lighting

Direct light where it is needed to cut back on wasted lighting and you won’t need to light your home up like a Christmas tree. Always have lights stationed at the top and bottom of stairwells. Light pathways and walkways from the street to your front door, especially around shrubs to rid of any shadows. 

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