Posts Tagged ‘windows’

Choosing Energy-Efficient Windows

Monday, May 20th, 2013
Double Pane, Double Tilt, Vertical Replacement Window

Double Pane, Double Tilt, Vertical Replacement Window

There are hundreds of ways to conserve energy without having to time your showers or stop using your air conditioner. Anyone worried about energy usage should consider installing energy-efficient replacement windows, as the right windows prevent heat transfer and keep cold air outdoors. This reduces energy usage, decreases heating and cooling costs, and makes homes more comfortable. When searching for windows, choose products made with energy-efficient materials to reduce energy usage.

Framing Materials

Energy-efficient replacement windows come in a wide selection of framing materials. One of the most important considerations when choosing a framing material is how well the material insulates against heat and cold. Some of the best framing materials for reducing energy usage include vinyl, fiberglass, wood, aluminum, and composite. Vinyl frames provide excellent insulation against heat. Fiberglass is durable and requires very little maintenance. It is also a good insulating material for windows.

Wood and aluminum are both very durable, but wood requires more frequent maintenance to protect against rotting. Aluminum is recyclable, so it is a good choice for homeowners who are concerned about how their buying decisions affect the environment. Composite materials are made from materials that have been blended together. These materials provide good insulation and require very little maintenance.

Glass and Glazing

If your home has single-paned windows, consider replacing them with double-paned windows or glazed windows. A single pane of glass does not do much to insulate a home, so switching to a more energy-efficient window can reduce energy usage and slash home energy costs. Double-paned windows do a better job of insulating because there are air spaces between the two panes of glass. These spaces reduce the amount of heat lost, which makes it possible to keep a home warm without using as much heat.

Double pane glass cataway view.

Double Pane Glass

Special coatings also increase energy efficiency and reduce the amount of energy used to heat or cool a home. Low-emittance glass, also called low-e glass, is a treatment used to increase the energy efficiency of double-paned windows. Double-paned windows made with low-emittance glass are 35 percent more efficient than double-paned windows that have not been treated with the coating, according to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Another way to reduce energy usage is to purchase windows that have been filled with argon. Argon is a safe, inexpensive gas that does not transfer heat very well, so it provides insulation against heat loss.

Energy-efficient replacement windows cost a little more than some windows, but they are well worth the expense when you consider how much energy they save. After you select your replacement windows, have an experienced contractor install them. If the windows are not installed properly, they will not insulate your home and reduce your energy usage as much as expected.

 

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What to Ask Your Window Replacement Contractor

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Replacing the windows in your home does not have to be a stressful event. Having a reputable contractor who has experience with window installation do the job means that the work will be done quickly and efficiently.

Interior wood grain replacement windows

Interior wood grain replacement windows

Before you begin to interview contractors regarding home window installation or even just for window repair do some pre-screening. Check with the Better Business Bureau, and ask people you trust for recommendations. Perhaps you have a neighbor co-worker who has had similar work done. Once you have a list of contractors ask each of them the following:

  • Do you provide references from previous clients?
  • Is there a charge for providing an estimate?
  • How much time will the project take, and is the end date guaranteed?
  • During what hours do you work?
  • Do you offer a warranty on your work? If so, what are the terms?
  • Do you work specifically with one brand of replacement windows or other products?
  • What all is included in the estimate (painting, clean-up, etc.)?
  • How long have you been in the glass replacement or window repair business?
  • Can I pay in installments?
  • Do you carry liability insurance?
  • Will you be doing the work by yourself or do you subcontract some, or all, of the work?

After the pre-screening stage you can move confidently toward obtaining estimates for the work to be done. Having a contractor you can trust replace your windows means minimal disruption in your life while the work is being done and no unpleasant surprises once the job is complete. Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions until you feel sure about your choice.

Add Sophistication and Curb Appeal to your Home

Monday, July 16th, 2012
Beautiful home with great appeal

Beautiful home with great appeal

Curb appeal refers to the amount of “wow” factor your home has when observed from the street curb.  It is a sum of a number of elements that, when combined, create a pleasing impact.

Having good curb appeal means there are things about your home that make it stand out from the rest.  Of course, its appeal varies depending on the taste of the onlooker.  Some love quaint Victorian style homes with gingerbread trim, while others prefer the sleek, no fuss lines of a modern home.  No matter your home’s style, if the upgrades you make stay in line with its character, the result will be a “put together” pleasing look.

Whether you’re interested in boosting your home’s curb appeal for your own enjoyment, or to add to its resale value, you’ll want to consider a number of areas such as those outlined below:

Facade:  The façade is the exterior of your home as viewed from the front or sides.  Updating the façade may be as simple as changing the hardware on the doors, updating the house numbers, and replacing the mailbox.  To take things a step further, you can repaint surfaces in modern tones, add architectural details, or have your home completely refaced in siding or stucco. Lightweight natural looking stone or brick veneer products at a touch of elegance, and can be installed directly on existing walls.

Worn or ill suited doors might be a blemish on an otherwise wonderful home. Stylish windows and doors, sometimes with shutters or canopies, significantly add class to a home’s exterior.  Change their appearance with a coat of paint, or entirely replace the door upgrading your existing door with a similar one with a lead glass inserts, or consider “Garden”, “French-style”, “Old World”, or “Iron” doors for added sophistication.  Garage doors vary from interesting “Carriage” or “Craftsman” styles-but, keep your changes and colours fairly in line with the other homes in your community for continuity.

Roofing:  Roofing products vary from asphalt and fibreglass shingles, to rubber-based, clay or cedar shakes.  Each can give your home a unique look.  Bear in mind, however, if you live in a subdivision where homes are close together, it may be wise to stay with a roof style that fits in with the other homes.  You don’t want to draw attention in the wrong way.

Landscaping:  A lush green, weed-free lawn is important for good curb appeal.  Bring a bare or weedy lawn up a level or two with the attention of a trained lawn care professional, followed by regular upkeep.

If your property has areas where water ponds or if it has awkward slopes, consider terracing it with retaining walls of natural stone or timber, with adequate drainage behind them.  Retaining walls can help define areas and add interesting curves and textures to your outdoor space.

Create the footprint of your garden with greenery that looks attractive in all seasons.  Include evergreens and a mixture of deciduous trees and shrubs as foundation plants.  Create interest by varying leaf colours.  Pay attention to what colours the leaves will turn in the fall for even more drama.

Instead of planting in straight rows, plant by following the curved lines of your home. Then, add attention-drawing flowers to the beds or to pots to dress up your yard.

Front Entrance:  You may want to completely redo an existing front porch or change the approach path to the home for practical reasons, or to draw the eye towards the front entrance.  Making your front entrance a focal point can detract attention away from a boxy garage that sticks out.  You may want to add an interesting seating area, creating an inviting visiting area.  Add contemporary or wicker furniture, and surround it with attractive plants.

Driveway: The driveway is often the first thing a person sees when approaching your house.  If it’s cracked and crumbling, it can create an eyesore.  Fill the cracks, or if it’s in the budget, consider repaving it.  You may also consider replacing your driveway with classy concrete pavers or stamped concrete.  Using flagstone for walkways or stairs is an excellent choice for most settings.

Unique Additions:  Unique elements such as attractive latticed fence details, ivy covered trellises, waterfalls, or winding paths lined with landscape lighting, attract attention, making your home more memorable.  Don’t go overboard, however.  Keep extra touches in proportion to your property size.

When boosting your curb appeal, it’s always helpful to get the input of trained professionals, or to hire outside help to create the curb appeal you dream of.  No matter what you choose to do, a good rule of thumb is this: keep it neat, keep it simple and take care of it.  Follow those rules, and you’ll be on your way.

Window Lighting Options

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

window-lightsMost people think of natural light when they consider brightening up a room with a window. But you lose this light source after dark. At night, window lighting can be used to simulate daytime illumination. The illusion of daylight on the interior space can be transformative. It offers a very different visual effect than traditional overhead lighting. From the exterior, the indirect lighting can be highly decorative at the same time making window lighting dual purpose.

Warm, full spectrum LED or fluorescent light around a window is just one option. You can choose any color to enhance the interior décor or mark a particular holiday with window perimeter lights. Rope lighting can be added along all four sides, the top, or just the window sill. Or, small lamps can be added at the corners. Button lights such as those typically installed under cabinets in the kitchen could be used for window sill lighting in some situations.

Window lights can also be directed toward the outside perimeter of the home for security reasons. These make it difficult for anyone to approach the window without being noticed. Burglars tend to shy away from well lit areas at night and look for easier targets.

Drapes, curtains, shades, blinds or any other window treatments can be accented with well placed lighting. In fact, light itself can be a window treatment. This is especially true for windows around a sunroom at night. The light reflections off the glass can give a mirrored effect to the room and make it seem much less gloomy.

Large Windows: Picture and Bay Styles

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

4250861951_e8ae42cf71_mOne of the reasons replacement windows are such a popular home improvement item is that they have an impact on both the exterior and interior of a house. They really set the atmosphere in each room. For rooms that could feature a lovely view, replacing small windows with single larger window can add quite a bit of value and appeal to a home.

Picture

A large picture window is one option for enhancing a room with a view. The largest possible picture window you can buy for your home may depend on the type of frame you want. Some manufacturers of residential windows only offer sizes up to 5’x8’ or 6’x7’ in a single pane. Additional panes can be added in geometric shapes at the top or sides of the large pane to increase the overall size of the window. Of course, a local commercial glass company can usually custom make any dimension of double paned picture window glass you’d like.

Bay/Bow

Unlike picture windows, bay or bow windows are generally made in 3 separate pieces and come in standard sizes as large as 10.5’x6.5’. They can create a much more open feel for the interior of a room because they “bow” out from the wall. Plants or other decorative items that might otherwise take up space in the room can be placed in the sunshine and out of the way on the interior window ledge. So, a deep bay window creates the effect of adding more square footage to the home without the expense of building a new room.

Making a Choice

What style will match the existing architectural feel of your home? Bay windows with inset seats are a typical choice for Victorian styles. In contrast, a large picture window or a series of several picture windows may be more appropriate for the front façade of a more modern home. However, bay windows can still be installed for kitchen, dining, or living room spaces that overlook a back yard.