I read a very interesting article this morning, “Realtors Identify Exterior Replacement Projects as Best Investment for Homeowners.” It has some really good information that all homeowners would be interested in knowing! A couple of the main points of the article are as follows:
A recent survey of Realtors found that realtors rated many exterior improvements as among the most valuable home investment projects as part of the “2011-12 Remodeling Cost versus Value Report.”
According to the report, seven of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects.
One window replacement project — upscale vinyl — rounded out the last exterior replacement project in the top 10, expected to recoup 69.1 percent of costs.
That last number is pretty amazing! Many people believe remodeling projects aren’t worth the price—but research is telling a different story. Homeowners might want to take that last point into consideration and begin researching premium vinyl replacement windows, since they could possibly recoup more than two-thirds of their costs upon resell. Plus there are the added benefits of better comfort and energy savings that a high-quality window project can bring to people who are staying in their homes longer. It’s really a win-win for homeowners.
It’s hard to believe, but in another week, the holiday festivities will be over. The gifts given and received, the feasts eaten, and the decorations ready to come down—which means “back to reality” in a way. The holidays are, for many, a whirlwind of decorating, shopping, wrapping, and baking—and many of the day-to-day concerns and chores get pushed aside for the time being.
Unfortunately, my “everyday worries” didn’t give me a break—our furnace stopped working last week (yes, on the day it was only 30 degrees!). And so my holiday cheer was broken up by calling the repairman, purchasing new parts for my old furnace, and receiving a very costly bill in the mail. Just what I need this time of year, right?
But—the experience did make my husband and I re-evaluate our existing furnace and weigh the pros and cons of repairing it or replacing it entirely. As with any home repair or improvement project, we considered the cost, longevity, quality, energy efficiency, etc. before we made our decision.
My point is this: my recent experience made me realize that, regardless what time of year it is, if you have an old piece of home “equipment”—whether it’s a furnace, windows and doors, roofing or siding—it is ALWAYS the right time to at least consider an upgrade. Weigh the benefits of undertaking a particular remodeling project against any downsides you see. You may just be surprised and realize that NOW is the perfect time to upgrade your windows, furnace, air conditioner or whatever it is your home needs!
Have you ever had someone knock on your door and ask if you need new windows, new gutters, new siding, etc.? I have had several of these canvassers come to my neighborhood and home. Sometimes these canvassers come during dinner time, sometimes during a bad time - very rarely at the perfect time. But is there ever a ‘perfect time’ for things like this?
Here are my thoughts on canvassers. Just like any business industry we come across, there are professional canvassers, very slick canvassers, and very unprofessional canvassers. When someone comes to my house representing a particular company, I quickly evaluate the individual, and my impressions of that person transfer to the company they represent. If I have an interest and they are professional, they have an opportunity to set an appointment. But if they are pushy or unprofessional, all bets are off.
Basically, I mirror their treatment and respect for me. If I tell them I’m in the middle of something and they ask if they can come back at a specific time, I’m going to hear them out when they come back. If they keep talking when I say I’m busy, I will politely ‘cut them off’ and let them know I am not interested in their company - even if I am. No second chances if they come across as disrespectful.
Also, I look at the way canvassers are dressed and how they talk. These all reflect the image of the company they are representing. From my experience, I know canvassing can be a challenging job, and they face a lot of rejection. But if they have a great attitude and act professional, I’m going to listen to what they have to say.
Finally, a good canvasser usually can present their information in 2-3 minutes. If it goes much longer, I lose interest and usually cut them off. The professionals know how to deliver the information quickly and concisely.
How do you determine where you are going to spend your discretionary income. How do you determine what home improvement to focus on for your family? Do you ask friends, relatives, co-workers or neighbors what they think? Do you watch the home improvement shows on TV? Do you research options and opportunities on the internet? My guess is you probably do all of these things. But did you know that replacing your home's windows with high performance vinyl replacement windows has ranked in the top 5 home improvements for as long as they've been making the lists, and usually in the top 3. See the article from Remodeling Magazine - link below.
If you decide to go forward with replacing your windows you should know a few things. Most of the time a professional window specialist home improvement dealer can do the whole project in 4-6 weeks. That is from the time they come to your home to figure out exactly what is the right product to satisfy your needs as well as fit your budget, until the windows are all installed in your home. I think that is pretty amazing, when you think about custom ordering a product, say a standard sofa that you want a different fabric on you can wait six months or more. But making you a whole house full of windows to your specifications, custom sized to fit each of your openings in a couple of weeks is amazing.
Another amazing part is a professional dealer can usually complete the entire installation process in a day or two, depending on how many windows you have in your home. And don't be concerned about the weather, Your window is removed and the new window inserted into the opening in a matter of a few minutes, so you can replace your windows in the dead of winter with no problem. And don't be afraid to ask for specials as the winter approaches, this is the slowest time of the year for most dealers in the colder climates and they are ready to make some pretty attractive deals, as are the manufacturers.
Remember why replacing your windows is your best first choice for home improvements:
Make your family more comfortable year round.
Save you money on your energy bill while being a good "green" contributor.
Save you money and time on window maintenance - paint - putty - sealing.
Save time and money on cleaning of your windows from the inside. (no ladders needed)
Add curb appeal to your home.
Add resale value to your home.
Improve your home's security.
Eliminate drafts and cold spots around your windows.
Shorter and colder days, and chilly nights send the signal that winter will soon be here. For some of you, it arrived as early as Halloween this year; up through the north east some are still without power from that storm, pretty amazing. Hopefully it's got you thinking about "buttoning" up your home for the winter. If you've been putting off replacing those drafty, old, worn-out windows, now is the time to take action. I'm seeing lots of special deals and sales being advertised for high-quality, highly energy-efficient vinyl replacement windows from many manufacturers and dealers. There are great deals to be had, but time is of the essence here. The old saying of "Buyer Beware" is very true in most remodeling jobs, and replacement windows are no exception.
You want to investigate what kinds of windows and features you want. Not just the brand, as most replacement window brands are unknown to most consumers. Check out the rating web sites, the chat rooms, and do your homework. You want the highest quality, best-performing product you can afford. Don't be fooled by some of these lowball price offerings. You cannot get a highly energy-efficient, good-quality vinyl window for $159, or $179.99, or $189 which are some of the prices I've seen advertised recently. Yes, they may be willing to sell you a window for this price, but they'll do everything in their power to add things on to get the price up to where it needs to be, and in reality, these companies don't sell many, if any, windows for these prices. Depending on what glass option you choose for your home, the other options you may desire - such as internal muntins or grids, color choices such as wood grains, or a special exterior color, blinds, security, safety, etc. - you can add a great deal to the cost of a window that will specifically serve your needs.
What is a "fair" price. Depending on the size, conditions for installation and the options choos, you can buy a high-quality replacement window anywhere from about $350 to over a thousand for a decked-out hurricane protection window. The major problem is people don't look at their windows until they are having problems with them, they look through them. So most people know very little about windows or the options or features that are available to make their home more beautiful, their family more comfortable, and to save energy. Do your homework and you will get a great deal from a qualified window specialist and enjoy your new windows for years and years to come.
October ended yesterday, and Energy Awareness Month officially came to a close, so I thought I’d write a blog to wrap up this very important time of year. Obviously, we all need to be cognizant of our energy usage year-round. But I think this fact really hits home this time of year.
Many of us here in the Northeast got our first taste of winter—in the form of a major snowstorm—this Halloween weekend. And that makes us realize more than ever that NOW is the time to evaluate the energy efficiency of our homes.
Major improvements like new energy-efficient windows, better insulation, and new appliances can significantly impact our home energy bills. And I encourage everyone to undertake these very necessary projects at their first opportunity. Shop smart by looking for the ENERGY STAR label on new purchases.
And for those who can’t undertake a large project right now, there are still many small ways to save a bit of energy in your homes. Turning off lights, replacing furnace filters, installing a water heater blanket—these small, inexpensive improvements can make a real difference to your home energy usage as well.
I've had many homeowners ask me the question about why buying a window sold through a dealer is better than buying a window from a manufacturer direct. There are a number of manufacturers who have gone down the path of selling direct to the consumer, although there are less of them than the traditional method of local dealers handling the sale, some are quite large and market their services aggressively. Most of these direct manufacturers have limited offerings of models and options, and sell what they have, which sometimes is not what would be best for the consumer's needs.
When a manufacturer decides to sell directly to homeowners they direct the sales process in total and dictate what the consumer will be offered. When a local dealer, who has access to numerous companies to buy from who offer him numerous options and product choices can design the products offered to the consumer to precisely fit the consumers needs. With more choice the entire process focuses more on the consumer and less on the manufacturer. In addition the local dealer is a small business located in the community who have to maintain their reputation to maintain their business. They have more interest in satisfying the homeowner in every way than the remote manufacturer.
When a manufacturer is selling direct to the homeowner they have a built in structure that gives them an incentive to install whatever is shipped, as it is all their cost. A dealer will only install first quality products as it is their reputation on the line and the extra cost back to the manufacturer is really not their problem. Let's say a window is ordered with a specific glass option that is really almost impossible to see, only the paperwork can verify what was supplied. If that window arrives at the dealer he will re-order the window to the specifications he required, as the error and cost is born by the manufacturer. The same goes for a quality issue, the dealer has no incentive to install a second quality product, the direct seller does. It's possible that a manufacturer direct seller may not re-order the product, as they have the financial incentive to use the product regardless, as it is all their cost. I believe it removes the checks and balance inherent in the remodeling industry.
Having been in this business for over forty years I've seen many direct sellers come and go, but the dealer based business has maintained that entire time. I believe the personal service and interest offered by a local business is far superior to some manufacturer in a remote city who may or may not maintain an office in your city. A local dealers livelihood lives or dies from how he treats the customers in his marketing area. I'm not sure the same is true from the manufacturer direct method.
Did you know that the vast majority of windows used in the USA are made in the USA? It's true, there are a few imports, but the vast majority are made right here, and when it comes to custom made windows designed for replacement, the percentage is even higher - close to 100%. I've read that there are some new construction stock size products coming in from China, but I have to admit, I don't think I've ever seen one. Some of the industry trade magazines claim that there are literally thousands of window manufacturers in the U.S., and the sad part is the average person can't name even one window manufacturer. Those that can name one or two, that's usually it, seldom is someone not in the industry able to name more than two. It's kind of sad when you think of it, as these are products MADE IN AMERICA, good high quality manufacturing jobs right here at home Yet we seem to remain an almost invisible industry.
On the replacement window side, there are no really big manufacturers. By that I mean over a billion in sales, which in many industries is still a small company. For an industry estimated to be in the $20-40 billion range, it seems unusual for no giant company dominating a sector. On the new construction side there were several over a billion in annual sales, but I'm not sure where they are now after this never ending recession that has hit building products as hard or harder than any other industry. From where our manufacturing facility is located in western PA there are literally dozens of other replacement window manufacturers within a hundred mile radius. There may even be hundreds, but a lot of them are fairly small and don't get noticed much.
There aren't a whole lot of products that you can be pretty sure to be made right here. so consider that when you are deciding which home improvement job to investigate next. Highly energy efficient vinyl replacement windows are almost all made in the USA. They offer terrific benefits to you and your family; energy savings, safety, security, comfort, improved curb appeal, far less maintenance, beauty - need I go on? Most manufacturers offer a ton of options to allow you to customize the windows to exactly what is right for you. And perhaps the best part is that you are helping to keep American Manufacturing Jobs in America when you buy replacement windows. BUY AMERICAN!
It really makes little sense to purchase the best product possible and then try to save money on the installation by going the “Do It Yourself” route, because poorly installed windows and doors will lead to on-going problems, poor product performance, and an unhappy homeowner. Some people, however, worry about how to find a “good” contractor—one who will do the work correctly, in a timely manner, and for a fair price. The following tips will help homeowners find the best replacement window contractor for the job.
Shop around for reputable contractors who specialize in the type of work you are planning. Newspaper or television advertisements, the Internet, or the Yellow Pages are all good sources to use for locating contractors in your area.
Make sure the contractor is licensed by the state. Ask for references from past customers and ask for examples of past projects in the area.
Collect three bids on the project and beware of “Too Good To Be True” low bids.
Make sure the contractor is willing and able to obtain all permits and inspections in order to comply with local building codes and city ordinances.
Consider having any contracts or agreements with the contractor reviewed by a real estate lawyer or independent third party.
Ensure subcontractors are paid upon completion of their work to protect against liens or other legal action that may affect the home.
Set up a reasonable payment schedule for the project with the contractor. This includes agreeing upon an initial down payment for the project.
Establish a set work schedule with the contractor to ensure timely completion of the project.
Always maintain a good working relationship with the contractor.
Going the “do-it-yourself” route is not typically a good idea with window replacement, but it’s important to be careful when hiring a window contractor / installer. Homeowners should do their research to be sure they hire the best company to complete the job.
I heard on the news this morning that gasoline nationwide is down over $0.25 in the last month. What great news, but then they had to add that it is still quite a bit higher than it was 12 months ago. I don't know about you, but I don't remember what it was 12 months ago, but I do know what it was a month ago and it's down a lot. Now if the average driver uses about 20 gallons of gasoline a week, that's a $5 a week savings or $260 a year. Did you realize you're $260 a year better off this month than you were last month, I didn't. I think this is great news but the media has to put a negative spin on it, always. They also didn't mention that back in May gasoline was going for $3.91 a gallon so today's $3.38 is $0.53 lower than just a few months ago, and it looks like it could keep on coming down in the future.
This is a big deal because there are only a few things you pretty much have to buy - clothing, food, shelter, heating and gasoline. If one of those must-buy things comes down in price substantially, that frees up "spending" money for the average person. A lot of people will just spend it somewhere, really not know where it went, some will save it and some will invest it in their homes. I'd suggest your best bet would be to pay down credit card debt first, but if you're in good shape there, invest it in energy savings products for your home. They will make your home more efficient (save you money), more comfortable, and if you chose new highly energy-efficient vinyl replacement windows for your improvement, they will also add maintenance savings and beauty. Spend it wisely, there aren't that many breaks you're going to get in this economy.
Well, depending on where you live, you may have just gotten a good taste of wintry weather. I know we did! A week of cold, miserable rain, high temperatures in the 40s, lows in the 30s...in October??? Luckily, we've climbed back into the 60s now, with 70s in the forecast.
But the cold weather really made me think. I had to turn on our furnace. And it ran a LOT for a few nights. So of course that brought to mind my soon-to-be-much-higher heating bills, and what I might be able to do to combat them. Fall is really the perfect time of year to make energy-saving improvements like the following to homes, specifically windows:
Inspect the exterior caulking around existing windows and doors for gaps and cracks, which will allow cold air to enter the home. Use a high-quality silicone caulk, which can be purchased at any local hardware store, to fill gaps and cracks.
Consider placing storm windows over the exterior of existing windows to reduce heat loss and prevent drafts.
Consider replacing existing windows a couple at a time to ease the expense associated with replacement, while benefiting from the return received from lower monthly energy bills.
Now’s the time to start thinking about replacing windows, or at least investing in storm windows—before those winter heating bills creep up on us!
More than 25 years ago, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC)—and McGruff the Crime Dog—designated October Crime Prevention Month. The month-long commemoration reflects the adage that prevention pays off. NCPC strongly believes that everyone can do something to prevent crime, from helping police identify crime problems to starting a Neighborhood Watch program or taking commonsense steps to protect their homes and property.
Crime Prevention month is a good time to evaluate the safety and security of our homes and our families—something that everyone can do to help prevent crime. We’ve all worried about the security of our homes at one time or another…Could an intruder possibly get in? Would your family ever be a victim of burglary or home invasion?
The truth is that most burglars get into homes the same way anyone does—through windows or doors. So taking several commonsense precautions can help keep our homes, and families, safer. For instance, keep windows and doors locked at all times. Don’t have shrubs in front of windows and doors, as they can shield would-be intruders.
Some people may need to take more drastic steps as well. If windows and doors are old, don’t operate or lock properly, or are easy to bypass even when they are locked, maybe it’s time to replace those windows and doors with newer, more secure models. Perhaps even consider laminated glass products that make it virtually impossible for anyone to get through.
With all of the political rhetoric that fills the newspapers and the television, has it made you afraid to spend money? With the housing market still experiencing ups and downs, has it made you throw up your hands and say it just isn’t worth putting another dime into the house? It doesn’t matter what political affiliation you are, all the government arguing - whether it be on the national level or even the state level - makes it difficult to spend money on anything, from true retail goods to improving your home.
I have talked to countless individuals about the economic ups and downs. Everyone is longing for the good times to come again. It seems that ‘bad times’ have lasted a lot longer than the ‘good times.’ I am not sure if this feeling is factual or not. But here is what I am sure of, if we sit on our hands and do nothing, it can be compared to not making a decision at all. And that is the worst thing we can possibly do.
I understand and appreciate that everyone’s situation is different. But if you have the economic means, now is the time to spend. And the best bang for your buck individually and economically is spending in the building products industry. This industry has so many small businesses that employ so many people. The building products industry is truly the backbone of the U.S. economy. There are still tax credits available with different building products and with business still soft, you aren’t going to get a better deal than you are today!
I’m biased towards vinyl replacement windows and doors. There are many great reasons to purchase energy efficient vinyl replacement windows, here are just a handful.
Improve curb appeal
Can reduce outside noise
Make your home more secure and safe
Improve the value of your home
Certain tax credits still available through the end of the year
There are countless reasons to invest in energy efficient windows and doors. So, don’t let the politicians, the news, even the economy get you down. Do yourself some good and the economy some good, invest in your home and vinyl replacement windows!
Consumers still have a couple of months to qualify for tax credits for making their homes more energy efficient. Here is a quick recap of the 2011 tax credits available for windows, doors and insulation.
Consumers can qualify for a tax credit up to 10% of the cost of qualified replacement windows (new-construction products are not applicable), or a maximum of $200, or up to 10% or a maximum of $500 of the cost of qualified doors. This new tax credit applies to ENERGY STAR labeled windows and doors. Certain types of insulation—such as Radiaflect reflective insulation products—also qualify for a tax credit of up to $500 or 10% of the cost of the project. Products must be installed between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 to qualify for tax credits.
There is one slight “catch” however. Consumers are limited to a lifetime maximum tax credit of $500 for any combination of tax credit qualifying products (windows, doors, insulation, HVAC, roofing, etc) from Jan 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2011. That means that consumers who have already reached or exceeded the $500 limit are not eligible to claim the credit in 2011. More information on the tax credits can be found at http://www.gorell.com/taxcredits/.
Consumers who are considering making their homes more energy efficient may want to move quickly to get their home improvements completed before the end of the year. After all, who is going to turn down several hundred dollars of “free money” – plus even more savings as a result of a more efficient home!
Well, it seems as if the Fall season is blowing in fast…in my area, we went from 95 degrees to first-frost conditions in one just week. With the change in seasons, many people begin thinking about doing a thorough pre-holiday housecleaning—you know, scrubbing walls, shampooing carpets, washing windows, and getting all those other “nooks and crannies.”
With so much cleaning to be done, it’d be nice to have one less item on your “to-do” list, right? If that’s your attitude, you might want to consider easy-cleaning glass in your windows and doors.
Notice I said “easy-cleaning”—not “self-cleaning,” because that’s not exactly true. No glass on the market will actually clean itself for you! But there are options—such as Gorell’s SolarShine—that will keep the glass in your windows and doors cleaner for longer.
So how does this glass work? Basically, it features a “built-in” transparent coating that’s super smooth so that most dirt doesn’t “hold on to” it. It even loosens and breaks down the dirt that does adhere to the glass. The coating uses two natural resources—the sun’s ultraviolet rays and water—to slowly decompose and loosen organic dirt, then rinse it away. Water “sheets” off SolarShine instead of beading, so there will be less spotting and streaking.
Windows and doors with SolarShine—or any similar product—are comparable to self-cleaning ovens. They’re a great help, but they are not magic. These products still require a little work from you. You will need to apply water to your windows occasionally, especially ones that are not exposed to regular rainfall. You basically just need to spray the windows or doors with water, from a hose or spray bottle, then wipe off any debris and let it dry.
Easy-cleaning glass definitely makes window cleaning quicker and easier…and anything that makes that Fall cleaning go a little faster is a good thing!
Maybe this seems like a silly question to most homeowners. I mean, of course you want to open your windows, right?! If you couldn’t, wouldn’t that sort of defeat the purpose of having windows?
Well, it might seem silly, but it’s actually a valid point for homeowners to consider when replacing windows in their homes. Being “hard to operate” is one big reason people replace their existing windows – but many attribute the fact that the windows stick or won’t open correctly simply to their ‘age.’
Age is one factor, sure, but you also need to consider what materials the windows are made of, what type of hardware is used, etc. Ask questions about the new windows you are considering for your home. Do single- or double-hungs feature constant force balancing? How many cycles is that hardware tested to? If you’re considering a casement or awning window, is the crank mechanism easy to turn? And, once your questions have been answered, TEST the operation! Try out those new windows to make sure they’re easy to operate—so that anyone can open and close them easily.
Whether you’re 20 years old or 80, whether you’re in perfect shape or physically challenged, you deserve to be able to enjoy a breath of fresh air without exerting yourself trying to get those windows open!
Summer is starting to fade away, but the heat is still very strong around most of the country. I look forward to the cooling; it’s been a very hot summer both in temperature and in the rhetoric out of our nation’s capital. Name calling, animosity, verbal attacks, that’s what it seems to have come down to with our elected officials. Maybe the cooler weather will bring some cooler heads too, I certainly hope so, we need solutions not name-calling.
The cooling weather is the time to start thinking about your home and family and the winter to come. Nothing will make more of a difference to your family’s comfort than new, highly energy efficient vinyl windows. You’ll be able to skip all those ladders and messy caulk and sealants this fall. You’ll be able to skip all those ladders with buckets and window cleaning supplies pretty much forever as most high end vinyl windows tilt into your home for easy cleaning. And, you’ll get lots of “thank you’s” from your family for the wonderful comfort and warmth in your home.
One thing you may not have known is that the average window replacement job is installed in ONE DAY. Obviously it can be longer if you have a lot of windows, or some special situation that would require additional work or trimming, but over 75% of all replacement window installations are accomplished in one day with little to no disruption to your home. The new windows will add a new spruced-up look to your home as well as save you money on your energy bills for years to come.
Why not beat the fall rush, call a highly rated window specialist near you today for a free in home estimate. Financing is finally available again at very reasonable rates and for credit scores as low as 600.
I came across a useful article on-line this morning – “The Heat is On – But Energy Efficiency Can Curb Summer Energy Bills.” The article offered energy-efficiency tips in three different areas -- Keeping Your Cool, Keeping the Heat Outside and Clever in the Kitchen.
Two of the tips, in particular, caught my attention, because they focused on advice that I – and other contributors -- often give on this blog. Those two very important tips were:
“Consider investing in energy-efficient windows to save money and increase indoor comfort.” It’s true -- the combination of highly insulating frame materials and a wide variety of Low-E glass options make replacement windows one of the best ways to increase the thermal efficieny of homes—and DECREASE energy bills!
“Plug energy leaks with weather stripping and caulking, and be sure your house is properly insulated, to save up to 20% on energy bills.” That’s a pretty significant savings – 20% -- more than enough reason to re-evaluate your home’s insulation. And summer is the perfect time to consider installing reflective insulation in attics to help cut energy costs and keep these spaces more comfortable.
I just read a brief article on one of the few bright spots in our economy. Here is a little excerpt from it:
"The latest BuildFax Remodeling Index, detailing remodeling activity from May 2011, indicates that residential remodeling activity registered the nineteenth-straight month of year-over-year gains. The May 2011 index rose 22 percent year-over-year to 124.3, the highest number in the index to date.
"Through the first five months of 2011, we have seen impressive gains within the remodeling index, and May has continued that trend with a record-setting month," said Joe Emison, BuildFax VP of Research and Development, in a July 18 release. "Even with the continued struggles in the economy, the remodeling industry has been a bright spot, as consumers look to make upgrades to their current homes, rather than purchasing a new residence."
This clearly says that it is time, really well past time, to get those windows and doors replaced. You've been procrastinating while your friends and neighbors have been upgrading and improving their homes. You know you need new windows. You know they will save you money. You know they will make your home more comfortable. You know you hate having to do all that maintenance, getting all the heavy ladders and such out to maintain and clean them. You know they will make your home more attractive and add significant value to it. So why haven't you done it yet?
STOP PROCRASTINATING -do it now - get on line or pick up the phone and call a window professional with a great reputation. NOW!
I just read an interesting article saying it is a good time to buy a home. (http://www.builderonline.com/builder-pulse/the-time-to-buy-is-now.aspx?cid=NWBD110705002) It got me thinking about the building sector and especially the remodeling sector of this industry. New single-family home construction has been at historical lows for several years now, but many people don’t know that the retrofit or remodeling sector declined before new construction and has yet to recover. Many companies servicing the retrofit market have gone out of business, and most if not all have cut back significantly if they were able to survive. Only the best, most professional firms have come through this recession so the best most reputable professionals are who are left. The industry is finally seeing some resurgence in business, albeit very slow to take hold.
Since the two sectors are closely related, the article on it being a very good time to decide to take the plunge and buy a new home is great news to the remodeling sector too. Many people who are thinking of buying a new home first fix up their current residence to make it more attractive for a sale. The other side of that equation is the people buying the used home tend to want to fix it up, normally within the first year of the purchase. So if new home sales start to trend up, which many forecasters are predicting, then retrofit will not be far behind in this upward trend.
If you are considering the purchase of new highly energy efficient or high security vinyl windows for your home, now is a great time. Prices are at record lows, and home improvement specialists are hungry for more business, so deals and extras are often extended to prospective purchasers. So if you are interested, it is a great time to go ahead and get some proposals on new beautiful windows that do offer added value and comfort to your home.
It’s the middle of summer, hot and steamy over much of the country. The weather last winter was severe with storms and snow and record cold temperatures. The weather this spring was severe with tornadoes and extreme flooding. And the forecast for this hurricane season is also SEVERE. Everyone is worried about the unemployment levels, the insanity in Washington DC, and lots of other things such as oil and gas prices.
One thing you can count on, even though they are coming down now, I don’t think anyone expects gas prices to decline in the long term. So even with all the unknowns and all the worries, it is still a great time to consider replacing your old drafty inefficient windows. With the huge choice of options available, you can customize your new windows to do exactly what you need for where your home is located. You can protect from severe storms with Hurricane certified windows, you can reduce your energy bills and make your home significantly more comfortable with high performance, energy saving windows. You can have options galore as to color and blinds and muttons. But the one thing you do have to do is choose wisely, and buy the best performing window you can afford from the company with the best reputation. Buy only vinyl framed windows, as it is by far the best material to make windows out of, vinyl is final! Maintenance free, attractive, color fast, energy efficient, won't rust or rot or deteriorate, corners can be welded to stop water and air penetration – no other framing material can make these claims.
The big step is to stop procrastinating and pick up that phone and call your chosen window professional serving your area. You won't regret it.
Summer means sunshine and warmth. It means more daylight and longer days. It means vacations, picnics and amusement parks. These are some of the things we all love about the summer season.
Unfortunately, for some of us, summer can also mean less sleep. Lawnmowers waking us up early in the mornings. Children playing loudly and keeping us awake in the late evening. Neighbors’ party guests and music keeping us up until the pre-dawn hours. The sounds of summer can be bothersome, particularly if you’ve got to wake up early for work and can’t join in the fun.
There is, however, an easy solution—windows and doors with laminated glass. Laminated systems consist of three glass panes, two of which sandwich a tough polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer. This interlayer is what gives laminated glass systems their remarkable properties for keeping out exterior sounds, such as noise from traffic, aircraft, yard work and pets. The glass and interlayer actually help absorb and deaden sound waves.
Gorell’s Armor Glass Plus laminated system, for instance, provides as much as 100 percent perceived improvement to the human ear in sound deadening. This glass system achieves Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings as high as 35.
Homeowners who want to keep their homes more peaceful and quiet by blocking exterior sounds should consider windows and doors with laminated glass. These products provide excellent noise reduction—as well as other benefits such as safety, security and UV protection.
Most homeowners are aware that the sun’s UV rays can fade furnishings – we see it all the time on the cushions of our patio furniture. Unfortunately, those same UV rays can fade the inside of a home, too – from draperies to furniture to carpeting – because they can easily penetrate windows and doors.
There’s not much homeowners can do to protect items that are left outside, but there is an easy way to protect the inside of homes—replacement window and doors! Windows with high-performance Low-E glass actually filter out much of the spectrum of UV light that causes fading.
The glass in windows and doors carries a Fade Protection Factor (FPF) rating. Like Sun Protection Factor (SPF) for sunscreens, FPF is a rating achieved through independent laboratory testing. A higher FPF number means greater fade protection for household furnishings because virtually all of the UVa and UVb rays are being blocked by the glass and coatings.
Clear glass for instance, has an FPF of only 2. Laminated glass systems offer particularly good fade protection—like Gorell’s Armor Glass Plus option that carries an FPF rating of 50 (the highest rating possible)!
The bottom line is this: Nothing can completely prevent fading, but if homeowners want to keep their interior home furnishing looking newer and brighter for longer, they should consider high-performance replacement windows that help block the sun’s harmful rays from homes.
Our interest in saving energy is always increasing. So to address that, in 2010, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) introduced its High-Performance Volume Purchase Program to promote and encourage the sales of very high-performing, energy-efficient windows to both residential and commercial window buyers. This program has been expanded in 2011 to include much more information, vendors and choices for the window-buying public. The web site to go to for information on this program is http://www.windowsvolumepurchase.org. The following article (from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/14/idUS118462289620110614) also has some very good information on this program.
DOE Makes Buying Insulated Windows a Breeze
By Matt Smith
Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:19am EDT
One of the easiest ways to conserve energy is to prevent heat lose through the use of heavily insulated windows, which the U.S. Department of Energy has just made easier for many businesses, schools, universities, architects, builders and large communities. In May, the Department of Energy expanded its High Performance Windows Volume Purchase Program. The expansions in the program make it easier for both residential and commercial buildings to find the appropriate high performance insulated windows, vendors and prices on the program's expanded website in order to save both money and energy.
Buyers can search through over 30 vendors who have met the requirements of the program for their specific window needs, as long as they meet the requirement of needing at least 20 windows.
"The high performance windows and low-E storm windows in the program can offer significant energy efficiency at attractive prices that make them cost effective in heating-dominate climate zones," said Graham Parker, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory senior staff engineer who manages the program for DOE's Building Technologies Program. The high performance windows also qualify for federal and utility incentives and rebates being offered across the country, he said in a press release. In addition, the DOE has expanded the program to offer commercial windows that also are high performance.
Double-pane, low-E, R-3 windows have typically been considered the standard for energy efficiency for residential construction in the last decade or so, but recent studies have shown that highly insulating, primarily triple-pane, windows reduce average heat loss through the window by more than 30 percent when compared to R-3 windows in residential buildings situated in heating-dominated climate zones. In situations where full window replacement is not an option, low-E storm windows can be installed over current windows to reduce heat loads by up to 20 percent, according to a DOE press release.
The program's website is filled with information about the advantages of insulated windows, including the amount of energy and money they can save depending upon what type of climate the building is in, what builders and residents need to know about ordering and installing these windows and the advantages of buying in bulk, and which type of windows are right for which type of building or budget. The website is also full of examples of buildings that have made the switch to insulated windows, such as the Cambria Office Facility in Pennsylvania and the Wisdom Way Solar Village in Massachusetts, and how this switch has benefited them.
(Reprinted with permission from Green Building Elements)
So you were all ready to buy new, highly energy efficient vinyl windows and doors for your home this spring. You’ve been waiting a couple of years now for the economy to settle down and housing prices too stabilize. You know they will add value to your home. You know they will save you energy. You know they will improve the appearance of your home. You know they’ll make your family more comfortable year round. You know they are virtually maintenance free and you’re really tired of scraping and puttying and painting your old windows. And maybe the biggest reason is that ladder seems to get taller and taller each spring and fall for the regular maintenance of those old windows.
You put it off again when those gas prices went through the roof. All the talking heads were saying, “it could be a double dip recession looming on the horizon”. You got scared again and who can blame you, if you listen to the news at all, it is all negative. Who in their right mind spends money when they don’t know what’s coming next.
Well, what’s coming next is more of the same. The election rhetoric is in full swing, the party in power is saying things are bad but they are getting better and they have plans to fix everything. The party out of power is saying things are bad and they have a plan to fix everything. They both are saying things are bad and they are going to fix things and that isn’t going to change much in the next 18 months.
So, you can sit on your hands and do nothing for another couple of years or you can act now. As I said above, you already know you need them and you all ready know it’s a good investment so what is going to change if you wait other than your home wont be comfortable and you will have to go up down that ladder a whole lot more.
Do it now, pick up that phone and call a reputable home improvement professional to help you select what is right for your home.
As you may have read in one of our recent blog articles, the latest hurricane predictions from the Colorado State University forecasting team is for 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater this year. So, if you live in a hurricane-prone zone, you need to be planning for a very serious hurricane season this year.
For homeowners who are unsure what type of protection they need for their area of the country, or who want to explore the possibilities available, Gorell offers a “Hurricane Buyer’s Guide” to help simplify this very important decision. This guide will help homeowners determine how well their home—and family—is currently protected, what type of protection (i.e. shutters, standard windows, custom windows) does and doesn’t work, and what level of protection might be required in specific areas of the country.
Most homeowners know that one of the biggest benefits of replacing older, less-efficient windows with newer, high-performance models is energy savings. Today’s replacement windows are much more technologically advanced, and they’re better at reducing home energy usage and improving the comfort of homes.
However, many homeowners believe these energy savings occur primarily during the winter months—when new windows prevent furnaces from running so much. While it’s true that replacement windows can help lower energy bills in cold weather, energy-efficient windows are just as important during the summer months.
Surprised? It’s really very simple: The Low-E coatings that keep warm air inside during winter months also work in reverse—they reflect outside heat away from windows in warm weather. This keeps the inside of homes cooler and results in air conditioning units running much less. Voila—summer energy savings!
When considering new replacement windows, homeowners should ask to see the NFRC ratings for each model they’re considering. Depending upon what area of the country a home is located in, a window’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) ratings can be important to consider. SHGC is pretty relevant to areas where warm weather prevails, because this value measures the heat from solar radiation that enters a building. A window with a good SHGC rating can really help reflect that outside heat away from homes and lower air conditioner usage and overall home energy bills.
Replacement windows are a good value ANY time of year, and ANY place in the country. Windows with Low-E coatings are designed to improve home comfort and reduce energy usage—no matter what the weather is like outside!
Homeowners are faced with many design choices when it comes to their home. In most parts of your home there is no one perfect product. You generally have multiple products to choose from and each has their own pros and cons.
Windows are no different. One of the most common questions we hear from homeowners is “Should I buy wood windows or vinyl windows”?
Wood windows offer a rich appearance that can be stained or painted to match the color of your home. Many people choose to stain the interior and paint the exterior so they can be different colors. Whether you paint or stain you will just have to remember to refinish them every few years to ensure they maintain their appearance. If not done frequently enough the wood can begin to degrade. If you do paint them, you want to be careful to not paint the windows shut which can cause a safety concern in an emergency.
Vinyl windows typically are made with one specific color of material that is the same on both inside and outside. Most vinyl windows offer a limited choice in colors – white, tan, brown. The benefit of vinyl is that it is a maintenance free finish. There isn’t a need to paint or stain the windows and they won’t get painted shut.
Still can’t decide which is best for you? Well, we make the decision easy. At Gorell, we offer low-maintenance vinyl windows that can be customized to have the beautiful interior appearance you get from stained wood. We have three (soon to be four!) gorgeous interior wood finishes that don’t ever require painting or staining. We also offer countless exterior color choices to complement the appearance of your house. (http://www.gorell.com/pages/frame_finish_colors.htm)
Why settle for a product that is almost what you want when you can get the best of both worlds?
This week is the ‘unofficial’ start of hurricane season. Many homeowners along the coast look to hurricane windows with protective laminated glass to keep them safe and secure.
But laminated glass isn’t just great for hurricanes. Laminated glass has many benefits to offer than just hurricane protection. This super strong glass has five very strong benefits for homeowners. Laminated glass is considered safety glass. When this type of glass breaks, it creates the visual look of a spider web. Although the glass breaks, it stays attached to the PVB interlayer. Here is an example....
Laminated glass is also security glass. With certain types of laminated glass such as Gorell’s Armor Glass Plus, a ‘would be burglar’ can hit the glass over and over with a baseball bat, and after awhile, they just give up. Here is a quick video showing the effectiveness. Click on the baseball video http://www.gorell.com/pages/armor_glass_plus.htm
Laminated glass also is a great UV protector. It blocks up to 99.5 % of the UV rays that fade carpets and upholstery. In fact, laminated glass is so effective at stopping fading, that some of our country’s most important documents are protected by it, including the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution.
This type of glass also offers great sound reduction from outside noises. Because of the laminated glass make up, the glass helps absorb and deaden sound waves. This helps reduce the amount of noise coming into your house.
And finally if you have a laminated glass unit insulated like Armor Glass Plus (http://www.gorell.com/pages/armor_glass_plus.htm), it comes combined with a high performance glass coating, SolarControl Max. This gives you energy savings and comfort.
So, when you are looking at replacing your windows, consider laminated glass as part of your package. Today, laminated glass like Armor Glass Plus, does a lot more than just protect homes from hurricanes!
If you are like most homeowners you've made a list of improvements you'd like to make to your home. Perhaps some new landscaping, or gutter guards to keep the leaves and debris out, or perhaps painting or siding, a room addition or re-doing some of the rooms in your home, or hopefully new windows to replace those old worn out ones you have now. You may have put some money aside or saved part of your tax refund and are now deciding which project to undertake first. May I suggest that replacing your old worn out windows with new state of the art highly energy efficient vinyl replacement windows is your best choice, bar none.
With your old windows you have to perform annual maintenance. They are hard to operate and hard to clean. They are cold to the touch in winter and hot in the summer. They make your home uncomfortable, with drafts and chilly spots in cooler weather and unbearable heat in the summer. New high efficiency vinyl replacement windows are virtually maintenance free. They are easy to clean and a pleasure to look at. They will instantly improve the curb appeal of your home and add value to it. They will make your family more comfortable year round and save on your energy consumption and your energy bills.
If you combine the window replacement with radiant energy barrier insulation in your attic, you will see an even more significant reduction in your heating and cooling bills. There is little you could do to improve your home that would have more benefits to you and your family - energy savings - help the environment - more comfort - enhanced curb appeal - added value - safety - better security - peace of mind. These are just some of the reasons why window replacement is your best choice and why now is the time to do it.
Blue skies, warm sunshine, a summer breeze. This time of year is great in many ways. Everyone wants to enjoy the outdoors after being cooped inside during the winter months—whether you can actually be outside, or just enjoy the summer “smell” from inside your home.
Many parents, however, can’t fully appreciate the summer breezes because they fear that open windows are a hazard to their young children. And in fact, that’s true in many instances. We’ve all heard the terrible news stories about children falling from upper-story windows and getting injured or even killed.
Luckily, with today’s technology, windows can serve both functions—allow homeowners to ventilate their homes and protect their children. Consumers simply need to look for a safety feature called “limit latches” or “ventilation latches.” This feature, usually offered on double-hung and sliding window models, lets homeowners open their windows several inches—and then prevents kids from opening the windows any further. Nothing is ever as good as a parent’s watchful eye, but windows with ventilation or limit latches can put parents a bit more at ease and help ensure children are safer in their homes.
“The budget should be balanced. The treasury should be refilled. The public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance.” Cicero – 55 BC
I recently saw this quotation in “Worth” magazine and it certainly puts into perspective the situation we find ourselves in today. I guess the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is quite accurate.
It helped me to focus, it’s time to ignore all the talking heads and politicians and focus on what is important – family – friends – home – and business. I believe our business is producing products that are valuable and important to our economy and our country’s future. Highly energy efficient replacement windows and doors are not just attractive but add value and save consumers money in the long term.
If you’ve been considering improving your home by replacing the windows, it’s time. Let’s all ignore the negatives that seem to be the only thing the media can talk about, and start focusing on the positives. About 90% of Americans who want a job have one. The stock markets are back to close to where they were before the great recession hit. Consumer confidence and consumer spending are on the increase. Let’s stop listening to the talking heads negative blather and start focusing on the positives. This is one great country, and a great place to live, none better than I’m aware of.
So let’s start focusing on what’s important, home and family. Make your home more attractive, more livable, and your family more comfortable. Replace those windows you’ve been thinking about for years – now is the time.
Wow. What crazy weather we’ve had these last few months. From thunderstorms with 50-mile-per-hour winds, to damaging golf ball-sized hail, to the horrible tornadoes that ripped through the southern and mid-western parts of the country and caused so much devastation. I don’t ever remember seeing such extreme weather patterns in my lifetime.
The heartbreaking stories on TV—and the scare of a tornado actually touching down about 20 miles from my home—caused me to do a bit of research. I learned that, although tornado season typically starts in March, it doesn’t reach its peak until May to June. Now that’s a scary thought, considering that killer tornadoes during the first four months of this year have already claimed more lives than all of last year (according to the nation's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma).
So what can homeowners do to protect their families and homes? Making homes stronger and more formidable is one good idea—from strong concrete walls and foundations to windows and doors that can stand up to the toughest weather conditions and offer better protection. People living in coastal areas around the Gulf are certainly familiar with hurricane or impact windows and doors—but those products aren’t just for hurricanes. Windows and doors that are hurricane rated pass rigorous tests and stand up to some of the harshest conditions imaginable—so they’re actually useful for all areas of the country. They include strong laminated glass that cannot be penetrated—which means it keeps deadly flying debris out of homes and away from families. Whether a home is located in hurricane territory, “Tornado Alley,” or an area prone to earthquakes, impact windows and doors can be beneficial.
So why does a replacement window manufacturer think about housing starts. Historically there was a direct link between housing starts, used home sales, and remodeling sales levels. With the housing collapse in this country a few years ago that relationship has become quite fuzzy at best. We used to be able to forecast our business increases or decreases pretty accurately using a six month lag to used home sales in the markets we serve. Housing starts didn’t have much correlation to our business, but there was a connection between starts and used home sales that could give you a longer forecast horizon, but that gets really complex.
In 2008 and 2009, our business along with the entire construction and remodeling industry really went into a nosedive. In 2010 we started to see some life come back into the remodeling sector, not dramatic, but certainly better than the bottom. The Energy Tax Credits at the end of 2009 and 2010 also gave a big fourth quarter boost for those that wanted to take advantage of the credits. The weather in 2011’s first quarter impacted the entire country and slowed sales dramatically. But we are seeing a true awakening in the remodeling industry starting in March of this year.
Normal trend was someone wanted to buy a new house so they may fix up the old one with new windows to try to get a better price before selling it, but they frequently bought the lower end type products. The bigger trend was someone buying a used home who wanted to fix it up for themselves – that’s were they looked for the best product – the best value - around. That is still happening and used homes are starting to increase in sales, albeit still well below the levels enjoyed a few years ago, but at least a definite rebound.
The new trend is people staying put. It is really tough to sell a home today, and if you could sell it you would be forced to take a price substantially lower than the home was worth even a few short years ago. So people are making the decision to stay put. They are looking around and doing some of the improvements that will make their life more comfortable and more enjoyable. Luckily new high performance, maintenance free, vinyl replacement windows and doors fit that definition perfectly. Many homeowners are finding that the reductions in their energy and maintenance costs are virtually covering the monthly payments for their new windows. They learned that they were paying for their new windows whether they bought them or not, and now they are more comfortable, they’ve added value to their home, and they look great.
Each year, Earth Day (April 22) marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. According to the Earth Day web site, “The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-Vietnam war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.”
His efforts paid off and, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. That first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
In 1990, Earth Day went global – bringing environmental issues to the forefront in 141 countries. Over the last 40 years, the Earth Day organization has executed successful environmental campaigns on issues ranging climate change and drinking water to voter registration and saving the whale.
Today, the Earth Day programs focus on greening schools and promoting environmental education, accelerating the global green economy, and the “A Billion Acts of Green®” program—which is the theme for Earth Day 2011. A Billion Acts of Green inspires and rewards simple individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that further the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the global Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.
The environment is something everyone should think about—it’s vital to our lives in so many ways. And most people know about the “standard” environmental issues that receive much publicity—such as recycling, planting trees, etc. What many individuals might not know is that making home improvements can also be good for the environment. For instance, replacing older, less efficient windows with new, high-performance windows can save a significant amount of energy. Insulating homes more effectively can also save energy. And both of these energy-efficient home improvements positively impacts the environment! It’s something to consider this Friday, April 22, as we celebrate the 41st annual Earth Day—there are ways everyone can help protect the environment—and some of them even have a positive impact on home energy costs as well.
For more information on Earth Day and the “A Billion Acts of Green” program, visit www.earthday.org.
Like most – or at least many -- states, Pennsylvania is facing serious economic challenges in 2011. Every day there’s news about state cuts or budget problems in one area or another. So I was surprised to read that there’s still a state program in Pennsylvania to help consumers purchase energy-efficient product and/or make energy-efficient home improvements.
The program I read about is called the Keystone HELP (Home Energy Loan Program), and is supported principally by the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Treasury Department and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. It allows eligible residents to get low-cost loans for purchases of things like high-efficiency Energy Star qualified windows and doors, insulation and heating and air conditioning systems. Interest rates for consumer loans through the program are as low as 2.99%.
Although I do feel that any Pennsylvanians considering energy-efficient home improvements should at least look into this program, I’m not endorsing anything here. I just want to make the point that there IS financial help out there. If it’s available in Pennsylvania, chances are there are similar programs in other states.
The other point here is this: The sooner energy-efficient improvements like installing Energy Star qualified windows or insulation are made, the sooner homeowners will see a payback in terms of lower home energy bills.
Deciding to significantly improve your home is a major decision anytime, but in a soft housing market it is even more challenging. You probably don’t want to, or can’t sell your home right now. But to decide to invest in new windows now, to make your home more attractive, more energy efficient, more livable, and reduce the required maintenance is really tough to do.
You know new windows will improve the value of your home. You know new windows will make your home more comfortable and more enjoyable. You know new windows will make your home more secure. You know new windows will save you money on your energy bills. You know new windows will show your friends and neighbors that you are truly concerned with the environment, that you do try to do the right “green” thing. You know new vinyl, high performance; energy saving windows are virtually maintenance free. So what are you waiting for?
I can answer that – to paraphrase a recent past President – “It’s the economy stupid”. You are worried that the payback will be insufficient to compensate you for the investment. You are worried that your home may depreciate in value even further. You are worried that the economy reverses itself again and starts heading back towards recession, and everything gets even worse. You are just plain worried.
All of those things are valid concerns – but – how about a little dose of reality. The economy has been improving for well over a year now. Not great, but steadily improving. History tells us that it would be extremely unusual for us to slip back into another recession.
As far as you and your family’s comfort while you remain in your home – you have to put a value on that – but you know there is a value there. Are your energy bills going down recently? I don’t think so - and you will save energy if you replace your windows with high performance windows – how much you save will depend on a lot of factors – but there is no question you will save. And the maintenance and appearance of your current windows wont change on it’s own.
So bite the bullet, take action and make the decision – replace your windows NOW not later. Get on line and do the research as to who’s windows you want, and what dealer you want to deal with to get the job done, but do it. And yes, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Windows and doors play a vital role in home safety and security. They help prevent intruders from breaking into homes, and can serve as escape routes in the event of a fire or other emergency. However, homeowners—particularly parents of young children—also need to be aware that windows can pose a risk of very serious injury should someone fall from an open window or into a door or window in the home.
That’s why every year, the National Safety Council celebrates National Window Safety Week during the first full week of April—this year that’s April 3-9! National Window Safety Week is designed to heighten awareness of what homeowners can do to help keep their homes and families safer from the risk of accidental falls or injuries in the home, especially when windows are open.
Of course homeowners should be cognizant of window and door safety all year long! When considering new windows, homeowners should thoroughly research the safety and security benefits of the products they’re considering. For instance, have the products passed ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) structural forced-entry tests? What type of frames and locking hardware do the windows feature? And what about the glass? Today’s technology allows homeowners to select windows and doors with laminated glass—like the glass used in auto windshields—that are specially designed for enhanced safety and security.
The bottom line is that keeping homes and families safe and secure is important to everyone—so homeowners should keep safety and security in mind when researching new windows and doors for their homes.
Ever notice that there are practically no window manufacturers that do NOT say their products are “quality” products. Yet, we all know -- many of us from real, personal experience -- that not all windows that supposedly are quality products actually are.
So, how does the consumer know which window products are truly quality products. And, what exactly IS quality. Whose definition of quality should be used? Maybe the manufacturer’s definition is that a quality window operates as it was designed for one year? Or that the exterior frame won’t fade in three years?
Let me throw out a few ideas about window “quality” here, and I welcome comments and discussion on these points. First of all, in terms of time, I believe quality products should provide “decades” of reliable service, not just a few years.
I also think “performance” is a valid measure of quality. In terms of windows, that means a window must offer excellent energy efficiency – again for decades, not just during the first year or two. A well-made window will have the integrity to maintain its original energy efficiency for decades.
Integrity in terms of all aspects of the window is critical. The frame and sash surfaces must hold up to constant use, cleaning and time! They shouldn’t mark or scratch easily, and they shouldn’t begin to fade within a year or two. Most homeowners don’t even realize that, like anything else, there are different grades of frame material. Not all vinyl is the same. A high-grade vinyl material is smooth and nonporous under the microscope. Dirt collects in the pores of poorly made vinyl and the frames and sashes begin to deteriorate and look dirty after a few short years.
Don’t forget the hardware. If latches, handles and locks break or become difficult to use, you are not looking at a window that was made with quality in mind.
You may already know that sometimes you can’t always tell a good quality window from a bad one when you’re looking at samples in a sales presentation or showroom. You can’t even always go by Consumer Reports, which rates only the windows of the largest manufacturers. Plus, although CR is a fine organization, it doesn’t actually test windows over time – and time is the real test of a window.
So how do you know if a window is a good one? With the vast amount of information available on-line, start your research on the internet. See what homeowners and even window and remodeling professionals are saying about manufacturers and the products they make. Ask others you know and trust – especially friends and family -- what their experiences have been with window they’ve purchased. Not only will you learn which products to consider, you’ll also learn which to avoid. You will also want to learn as much about windows in general as you possibly can. There are some very good manufacturer web sites – yes, gorell.com is one of them -- that provide a wealth of information about windows. The more you know, the better you’ll be in a position to make the right buying decision.
Doing some research on the security aspects of windows, I see that lots of manufacturers say their windows are superb for security purposes. You have to wonder how many of these claims are advertising fluff versus accurate statements that can be backed up. To say anything about a window being a strong product that's effective for security purposes, a manufacturer should have had the specific window tested to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specification F588-97, which measures forced-entry resistance.
Some windows are made specifically for security, using laminated glass like the glass in automotive windshields. Laminated glass may "crack" when struck with a sharp or heavy object, but a heavy-duty plastic interlayer sandwiched between the glass planes helps keep intruders or their burglar tools from actually getting through the glass.
Other types of glass are less resistant to intrusion. Many people think tempered glass is ideal for security purposes. It's actually a glass made for safety reasons—so it's pretty easy to get through, but it breaks into small pieces (not shards) that are less likely to injure someone. I experienced this personally just recently. I was carrying a small TV cabinet with glass panels from our house to our car and tripped on our driveway. The cabinet broke into lots of pieces and all the glass panels shattered. I instinctively extended my arms and hands as I fell, and my hands landed right on the glass. I got just a few very small cuts, but it would have been much worse had that glass not been tempered!
The name for standard or regular glass is "annealed." It typically breaks into dangerous, jagged “shards” when broken. There is actually some play in annealed glass as well. It will "bend" a little before breaking. I heard from a co-worker a week ago that an attempt was made by an intruder to break into her sister's home through the windows. The guy used his foot—wearing a steel-toed boot—to try to break the glass to get in. The glass didn't break, and his shoe prints on the glass even led to his arrest!
I was sure the glass in the windows—which are Gorell windows by the way—was laminated security glass, or possibly tempered. Remarkably, it was regular annealed glass. Not that annealed glass should ever be recommended for security purposes (laminated glass is, of course), but it does go to show you that a well-made, tough window that meets tests for strength can be somewhat effective at least keeping the bad guys out. One last thing—please don’t try this at home (i.e., putting your foot through a window to see how strong it is!).
We are often asked, "how do I decide if it is time to consider replacing my windows?" I've put together a simple little quiz to help you think about the decision to replace windows now or later.
1. You feel drafts and chills when sitting near your windows.
Yes _____ No_____
2. Your heating and cooling bills seem high already and keep rising each year.
Yes _____ No_____
3. Your windows are hard or impossible to open for cleaning and ventilation.
Yes _____ No_____
4. Your windows' glass is hard to clean to your satisfaction.
Yes _____ No_____
5. Your windows need painting and/or puttying on a regular basis.
Yes _____ No_____
6. When you touch the glass of your windows, it feels cold (or hot in the summer) to the touch.
Yes _____ No_____
7. Your windows are more than 25 years old (which means they're unlikely to have Low-Emissivity Glass.)
Yes _____ No_____
8. Your windows' framing material is showing signs of deterioration, rotting, veining, swelling, degrading or paint peeling.
Yes _____ No_____
9. Your windows' unsightly appearance are reducing the value of your home.
Yes _____ No_____
10. You would like to change the look of your home without doing major renovations.
Yes _____ No_____
If you answered "yes" to 3 or more of these questions, you should seriously consider investigating new vinyl-framed replacement windows. They can solve all of the problems addressed by the ten questions above, saving you significant energy while allowing you to easily ventilate your home and clean your windows easily from inside your home. They can change the appearance and ambiance of your home and add value to it. And best of all, they can basically pay for themselves over the years -- from the savings you'll enjoy by reducing your energy bills.
I recently read an interesting article from Forbes magazine—“Ten Best Home Renovations for the Money.” (There’s also a “Ten Worst” list for those who are interested.) The article used Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report to gauge just how much of their investment homeowners can recoup on various home improvements.
As you might expect, most renovation projects will not “pay for themselves”—meaning that homeowners generally will not recoup all of the money they spend on home improvements if they later sell their home. Some projects are just “plain dollar drains,” according to the article, and shouldn’t be undertaken for the sole purpose of increasing a home’s value.
The article recommends that homeowners who are going to shell out money on improvements should focus on the home's exterior because it offers more decent returns on investment. For instance, both vinyl replacement windows and vinyl siding were shown to recoup 72% of their cost upon resale.
Any homeowners who ars considering a home-improvement project might want to check out this best/worst list before jumping into a renovation—to ensure they’re undertaking renovations like windows or siding that provide amuch better value. The article is available at http://tinyurl.com/4rw95qd
Until consumers start researching windows when planning to replace their old ones, most aren’t aware of the possibilities of buying windows with “gas” between the panes. Yet gas-filled windows have more or less been the rage over the last several years. So, it’s not unusual to hear homeowners ask WHY do we want gas-filled windows?
Here’s basically what happened. Back in the 1970s and 80s, the window industry raced to see how wide a gap it could make between the panes of glass to improve the thermal efficiency of windows. Company A had ¼” thick glass, then company B developed 3/8” thick glass, so company A in turn released ½” thick glass… and the race was on.
All of these glass systems were produced with “dead” air space; just air that didn’t move. Then the labs began to notice an interesting side effect. Once the air space reached wider than roughly ½”, the air inside it began to move. It was no longer the “dead air” space that was required to improve a window’s thermal performance. In fact, the air movement inside these larger spaces actually began to draw heat out of the home rather than keeping it in! Companies found themselves asking, “What now?”
During those times, to achieve the best performance, sheet glass companies were also rushing to develop glass with very thin, practically invisible metallic coatings because the coatings worked well to reflect heat energy. This new coated glass was more expensive, but also pretty much worthless because the larger air gaps simply counteracted the thermal benefits of the coatings.
Long story short, industry professionals eventually realized that filling the air spaces with a gas heavier than air would stop the movement inside between the panes—and work better with the new glass coatings to greatly improve the thermal performance of double-pane and triple-glass windows.
There are three gas elements that are heavier than air and completely safe—and all naturally existent in the air we breathe. They are Argon, Krypton and SF6. Argon is the most common and abundant of the three. It’s also the easiest to extract, so it’s the least expensive. Krypton is more expensive than argon, but still a pretty affordable choice. SF6, however, is the least available gas of the three and thus is not a viable option.
Now window manufacturers have excellent solutions for homeowners—new Low-E-coated glass panes, combined with inert gases that are heavier than air and result in highly effective double- or triple-insulating glass systems. Windows now can achieve center-of-glass R-values in the range of 10—levels that were unheard of some years ago.
Many consumers make major improvements to their homes, in large part because they believe the renovations will increase the value of their properties. I recently read an interesting article on this very topic. The author wrote that improvements don’t always result in higher property values, or even in more interest from potential buyers, and that there are other factors to consider before jumping into certain home improvements.
One excellent example mentioned in the article was adding a swimming pool—an improvement assumed by many to increase the value of a home that in fact doesn’t affect the value at all—and actually might deter potential buyers because of the safety risks and costs of on-going maintenance and higher insurance. The complete article can be found at http://finance.yahoo.com/news/First-Person-10-Home-ac-4117717167.html?x=0.
As a homeowner, the article really caught my attention because some of the points were very valid. And it made me think…what home renovations really are worth it? What types of items would make me as a homeowner happy AND still attract potential buyers should I ever decide to sell? The answer, I believe, is products like insulated siding or replacement windows and doors. New windows, for example, provide immediate benefits—more comfort, lower energy costs—and they would still be attractive to future buyers. I mean, who can argue with an improvement like this? Windows and doors, unlike swimming pools that require costly, on-going maintenance, actually decrease home maintenance. They aren’t like most of the other projects mentioned in the article, which are really a matter of personal taste…these products are something that pretty much everyone would find beneficial.
It’s something to think about for homeowners who are considering making home improvements. It’s important to choose a renovation project that is valuable to you and your home—and that could pay off if you ever decide to sell your home.
It has been one of those winters again. It has been long and it has been severe. Cabin fever is rampant amongst all of us. To add insult to injury, I was listening to Joe Bastardi, one of AccuWeather’s main meteorologists. Two years ago, he predicted that 2011 would be a rough winter. He also recently said in the same interview that if you think the 2011 winter was/is bad, wait until next year!
This cold winter weather often highlights different parts of our homes that need attention. Whether it be the attic insulation, a new roof, or replacing the windows, this weather reminds us that we need to make our homes more energy efficient.
And with the cold weather, energy consumption goes up, and prices quickly follow. Also, if you are like most Americans, the value of our homes aren’t at an ‘all time’ high. In fact, they are lower than we would like them. But because our homes are priced the way they are, we may as well be comfortable in them. And we may as well improve the energy efficiency of our home as well as add to the value when the market does creep back.
If you are looking to replace your windows, now is a perfect time. Remodeling companies are coming out of the winter and are looking to jump start the year. This is the time to get a great deal on your window project.
An old saying in the window industry is "you are paying for your new windows whether or not you actually buy them now." I think that is truer today with escalating energy costs and the super low interest rates available than any other time I can remember. I believe it is pretty much indisputable that high performance, energy-efficient windows do save you money on your heating and cooling costs. Depending on the condition of your existing windows, the type of glass in them, how air-tight they are, their size and how many there are, and the direction most of them face, determines how much you could actually save in energy. Dramatic savings have been documented, but even if you take a fairly reasonable number like 20%, you are throwing 20% of the costs of your current energy bills literally out the window.
I'm not sure what the "average" household spends on home heating and cooling costs per year, but I'm guessing it's something around $5,000 a year. So if you only save 20% of your energy costs, you'll have $1,000 toward your new windows. That will go a very long way toward whatever monthly payment plan you put together for the purchase of new windows. If you spend more on energy per year, or save more than 20% because of the condition of your existing windows, then the amount of savings just increases.
Now the best part is that you not only will be saving energy, thus money, but you will be helping the environment while you are doing it. Then you'll also be more comfortable in your home year round. And isn't that kind of your responsibility to your family -- to make them happier and more comfortable? And you'll be helping the value and appearance of your home. Your neighbors will notice, maybe they will decide to spruce up their homes too, and you may just find the home values in your neighborhood going up, not a bad thing for resale sometime in the future. And, on top of the money you'll save each and every year on energy, when you do finally decide to sell your home, windows are one of the best payback items on a resale, so you'll get another big chunk of the cost back when you sell.
So, annual savings ... big payback on the sale of your home ... more comfortable living ... happier family ... prettier home ... easier to maintain ... happier neighbors. Do you think you've heard enough reasons yet because I can go on? C'mon, as they say -- it's time to get off the couch and pick up the phone.
Although new legislation has reduced the amount of the tax credit and changed the qualifying criteria, consumers are still eligible for tax credits for making their homes more energy efficient in 2011. Here is a quick recap of the 2011 federal tax credits available for windows and doors:
The new 2011 legislation provides a consumer tax credit up to $200 for 10% of the cost of qualified replacement windows, (new-construction products are not applicable), or up to $500 for 10% of the cost of qualified doors. This new tax credit applies to ENERGY STAR labeled windows and doors installed between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.
There is one slight “catch” however. Consumers are limited to a lifetime maximum tax credit of $500 for any combination of tax credit qualifying products (windows, doors, insulation, HVAC, roofing, etc) from Jan 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2011. That means that consumers who have already reached or exceeded the $500 limit are not eligible to claim the credit in 2011.
Although this credit is much reduced, it’s still “free money” for those who are considering purchasing windows or doors and have not taken advantage of the previous tax credits.
We are often asked where is the best place to buy replacement windows. You have a lot of choices; retail lumber yards, home builders, big box retailers like Home Depot, general remodelers, factory direct manufacturers, or the specialty exterior remodeling specialist dealership. We believe the well trained, experienced exterior remodeling specialist dealership offers the best value for you the consumer. Let’s go through each choice.
Retail lumberyards by their very name offer mainly lumber, and then lots of other products. There is no way they can really become expert on everything they offer, and they traditionally focus on low price as their selection process for what products to offer. If they offer installation at all, it is usually by a local contractor who probably is not trained in professional window installation techniques. Low price does not mean good value; you really do usually get what you pay for.
Homebuilders only move into remodeling when they don’t have homes to build. They are not experts on what is available on the retrofit market, the intricacies as to what makes a good efficient window or the true proper installation of the products. Most, not all, builders focus on commodity products in building homes, buying what is the least expensive and easiest to get – often whatever their building supply house offers. They are used to installing into raw frames, not finished and trimmed home interiors and exteriors.
Big box retailers are just that – BIG. They offer literally thousands of different products and from our experience they are not truly expert on any of them. High volume and price is their main prerequisite for choosing what products and services to offer. If they offer installation at all, it is from a local contractor they hire to do the work who would not be working for them if they were professional enough to have their own independent business offering windows.
General remodelers like lumberyards offer all kinds of services. They mostly focus on the glamor areas of homes, the kitchen and bath, or do big projects like room additions. Most of them offer windows as a cash flow product, and really don’t know much about the products or the intricacies of installation. They also face the same problems as builders above.
There are a number of companies that make windows and sell them directly to the consumer. They say in that way you have just one place you're dealing with, the manufacturer is the installer. If you think about that, there are no checks and balances in this equation; if the window is measured, made or installed poorly or incorrectly, it is incumbent on them to find a way to make it work, rather than returning it for a properly made new product, as the costs are all in one place. Also, these companies are usually smaller fabricators and have very limited product offerings, especially when it comes to options – grid types, colors, various models in each type of window, glass (glazing) choices, specialty shapes, auxiliary products, etc.
The professional exterior home improvement specialists by the very definition are “specialists”. They focus on the exterior of homes: windows, doors, siding, gutters and sometimes roofing. Some of them even focus more closely on just one or two of these items – windows and siding for example. They know their products inside out. They know what products are available to them and where to get them. They are usually professionally trained on the options, window performance, testing methods and procedures and all the industry “terms”. They are free to choose the manufacturer that they think offer the best products to give you the best VALUE, not the lowest or highest price. They are trained to learn what is important to you and your home and then choose the appropriate product that will most closely fit your needs. Further, and often most important, they are trained on proper installation techniques. The best window can perform poorly if badly installed, and the worst window can be almost acceptable if installed really well. Don’t underestimate the importance of a focused professional. They know their products intimately; none of the other options mentioned offer this level of expertise.
No area in a home is more vulnerable to intrusion than windows and doors. FBI statistics show that 93 percent of break-ins occur through windows and doors. So it’s not surprising that, when researching windows and doors, many homeowners are thinking about security. These homeowners may come across references to “laminated glass” as a good choice for high-risk areas. But most people aren’t familiar with laminated glass and have always considered tempered glass the “safe” choice. So what’s the difference?
Tempered glass is actually designed to minimize injury rather than prevent entry. It shatters into tens of thousands of pieces when hit. Tempered glass keeps people safer from injury or being cut by glass—such as in a car accident—but doesn’t stop intruders from breaking the glass and getting in. In fact, a sharp-edged object will break the glass’ ”surface tension” and shatter tempered glass without any impact and with very little noise.
Laminated glass is much harder for would-be burglars to penetrate. A laminated glass system usually consists of one composite pane made up of a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer sandwiched by two sheets of glass—and then another pane of standard glass. That special PVB interlayer is what keeps the glass from being penetrated. There are different thicknesses of PVB interlayers. Thicker interlayers (such as .060 or .090) will provide much more protection than thinner interlayers (.030 size, for example). In tests, windows and doors with thicker interlayers have withstood more than 30 blows from a baseball bat before a hole the size of a quarter appears. The glass will shatter – but the PVB won’t break, so no one can get through.
Tempered glass is a good choice in some situations—such as patio doors, or very large windows with big expanses of glass—because it’s safe when broken (often a concern of homeowners with kids). But for home security, to help prevent intrusions, laminated glass is more effective.
Do you remember the old radios with manual tuners? You would find your favorite radio station and then you would have to fine tune the station until it came in clear.
In many ways, your home is like ‘fine tuning’ the dial to your favorite radio station. There are many things that you ‘want’ to do to improve or upgrade your home. There are the awesome new kitchen designs, a new addition on the house, or even a new media room. These things are spectacular and sexy.
There are also other things you ‘need’ to do that can not only improve the look of your home, but improve the energy efficiency as well. These ‘classic’ home improvements help you save energy and allow you the additional income to consider the more exciting home improvements.
Replacing your windows and improving the insulation in your attic may not have the ‘fire power’ of a new kitchen. However, these types of improvements not only reduce your energy consumption, which in turn saves you money, but these types of improvements also make your home more comfortable all year round.
So when you are fine tuning your home improvement needs, as exciting as it is to listen to the new rock songs, the classic rock songs are classics for a reason. The same is true for home improvements; classic improvements like replacement windows and insulation will increase the value of your home, save energy dollars, and make it more comfortable.
We often get asked what is the best window for my home remodeling project. It is a very difficult question to answer; it is almost like asking which is the best car for you and your family. There are a lot of variables in both decisions, with a multitude of choices for both. With cars there is the basic utility needs, how and for what will the car be used; the body configuration, design, number of seats, fuel economy and price. As far as windows, there are the aesthetic considerations, the energy saving needs, the home's basic insulation characteristics, security concerns, color considerations, how long you plan to stay in the home, and your personal financial situation.
If your home is not properly insulated to begin with, adding new windows may not give you all of the improved comfort level you are looking for. You may also need to address the level of attic and/or wall insulation in the home. New high-performance windows will help regardless of the basic wall and attic insulation level, but you may want to address the entire home's energy value before making a decision. There are many window professionals that also do an analysis of your home's basic condition and offer insulation products as well as new windows and doors. If you’re concerned with the overall energy value of your home, it would be worth consulting an expert who can show you how to improve all of the energy improvement options.
When choosing windows, there are many technical factors that go into making high quality replacement windows. The framing material, the quality of the design, the weather-strip air barrier, and the glass make-up are key ones. Vinyl has proven to be the best framing material for many reasons, including its maintenance-free properties, color fastness, thermal properties and ease in designing effective shapes to create the frame members. Wood, while attractive to look at, is a material that requires maintenance and is inherently problematic. Aluminum is easy to form into effective frame sections but is not really an effective material thermally. Composites and fiberglass have some good features but are ineffective alternatives. They are difficult to form complex shapes with, must be finished with another material, are not great thermally and are not as strong as some of the alternatives.
Glass ranges from basic single glass, to triple-glass units that offer superb thermal performance. You can also find glass options that provide a combination of benefits, for example excellent thermal performance and securityA features to protect your home from intrusion or Mother Nature's fury.
Design of the shapes making up the frame is critical in getting a high-performing product that will prevent air infiltration and water penetration. The right materials, the right glass choice for your home's needs, and then the product design are all key considerations for performance of the window -- as well as the aesthetic value. To help you with these decisions, you should consult with a professional window dealer who can explain all the considerations and give you recommendations to fit the needs of your home. Check them out on the web and with the Better Business Bureau, and then ask for a free consultation and estimate - you'll be glad you did your homework.
An interesting report out of Harvard University recently indicates that the remodeling industry should see better times presently. That’s more good news for the country, the home remodeling industry and for consumers. With factors such as rising prices of existing houses and more homeowners staying in their homes instead of moving, it makes sense that people will need and want to make improvements to their homes. Another major factor, very possibly spurred by the recent energy tax credit programs, appears to be increased consumer interest in environmental and energy-saying improvements. The payback and money-saving benefits of improvements such as replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows cannot to be overlooked.
When shopping for double- and single-hung windows, homeowners should be cognizant of the windows’ balance system. A poor choice in hardware—particularly the balancing system—could mean long-term product dissatisfaction, so it’s important to get the best system available.
First off, what does the balancing system do? It basically is the hardware (usually not visible) used to open and close single- or double-hung windows—so, the type of balancing system can have an effect on the operation of the window.
There are basically three types of window balancing systems—spiral, block & tackle, and constant force. After examining and operating windows that use each of these three systems, window industry professionals generally agree that there’s no contest—the constant force balancing is the hands-down winner. “Constant force” means that, unlike other balance systems, the effort to open and close the window sash is constant. It’s the same at all points of opening and closing. Operation of windows with constant force balancing is virtually effortless, silent, and unbelievably smooth. Constant force balance systems are also more dependable. Because there is only one moving component, the balance spring, operational issues are extremely rare. These systems are typically tested to 10,000 or more cycles and still open and close smoothly. They also last longer than other balance systems because the spring is inside an encapsulated unit. This means that the most important part of the system isn’t exposed to dust and dirt over time.
Block and tackle and spiral balances both have multiple moving parts—which results in many more components that are prone to fail over time. Block and tackle balances consist of a pulley system and cord. The cord wears down as the window is operated and eventually frays or breaks. Spiral balances feature a spiral-shaped steel rod that’s connected to a torsion spring. Not only are spiral balances noisy when operated, but the way they operate also generates excessive friction—which results in wearing surfaces and, eventually, failure to operate correctly. Both systems, although not usually very visible, do attract and collect dirt. Over time, this affects the performance of these balance systems.
Before purchasing windows, homeowners should thoroughly research the products they’re considering—including what type of balance system is used and what type of warranty that hardware carries.
What characteristics and practices separate good contractors from the bad? The majority of home improvement projects include a fair amount of costs and stress, so knowing that you have the right contractor can make all the difference. While it may be true that anyone with tools and a pick-up truck can become a contractor, most states require contractors to be licensed. Don’t be afraid to do some research prior to hiring a contractor for a project. Check on references from previous customers and ask to see completed projects in person if possible. Consider collecting three bids on a potential project to determine if the estimates received are reasonable. While it may require a little bit of work up front, getting the right contractor can be easier then you think.
Points to consider when talking with a potential contractor to ensure you receive the care and service your home improvement project requires:
Make sure the contractor is licensed by the state, ask for references from past customers and ask for examples of past projects in the area.
Collect three bids on the project and beware of, “To Good To Be True”, low bids.
Check on whether or not an architect is needed as part of the planning/approval process for the home improvement work to be performed.
Consider having any contracts or agreements with the contractor reviewed by a real estate lawyer or independent third party.
Ensure subcontractors are paid upon completion of their work to protect against liens or other legal action that may affect the home.
Set up a reasonable payment schedule for the project with the contractor. This includes agreeing upon an initial down-payment for the project.
Establish a set work schedule with the contractor to ensure timely completion of the project.
Make sure the contractor is willing and able to obtain all permits and inspections in order to comply with local building codes and city ordinances.
Always maintain a good working relationship with the contractor, but keep it professional.
Windows and doors are typically only as good as their installation. Yet, when shopping for new windows and doors, people tend to think more about framing material, operating style, options and the level of energy efficiency they need. What's not on their minds at this point is the installation—from initial measurements to the completion of the project.
It really makes little sense to purchase the best product possible and then try to save money on the installation by going the “Do It Yourself” route, because poorly installed windows and doors will lead to on-going problems, poor product performance, and an unhappy homeowner. There are so many important factors involved—from measuring correctly to installing windows properly—that it really is a challenge for do-it-yourselfers to get it all right.
For instance, these are some of the many things to consider just at the time of measuring: Are the openings square and level? (This affects how the windows and doors are sized for proper fit and function.) How was house constructed? What type of material will the new window or door be anchored to? Are there any water-damaged areas that will need to be repaired prior to installation? What is best the type of windows or doors to use -- new-construction or replacement?
Once the products have been measured correctly, there are still many other factors that must be addressed to ensure a good installation. These include:
Proper load-bearing shims—and where to use them.
Effective anchoring techniques.
Rigid or flexible flashing, based on whether it is a replacement or new construction product.
Suitable insulation for the installation.
Properly sized sealant joints for expansion and contraction.
Sealant that’s compatible with the window and building material it may come in contact with.
The possibility that there is exposed wood or other material that may need capped during or after the installation.
Many of the points mentioned are not only important for a good, long-lasting installation, but they also are important in terms of reducing air infiltration and water penetration --- as well as helping with sound reduction. Having a quality, professional installation with a premium product will lead to years of trouble-free operation of those new windows and doors.
Many times during the winter months, the statement is made, ‘I’m not replacing my windows until Spring time.’ On the surface, the statement makes sense. Who wants their house opened up when there is snow on the ground?
Speaking from experience, I had my windows replaced in the winter. Growing up in the Upper Midwest, where it is cold and snowy several months out of the year, it was obviously a slower time of the year for the window dealer. But because it was a slower time, we were able to get the windows installed very quickly.
I asked the dealer how slow things were during the winter months. He explained that, yes, it is slower, and there are a lot of people that don’t want their homes open up to mother nature in the winter. But there are different incentives we offer to encourage homeowners to get their windows installed.
For example, the window installations for a typical house where I lived took between 2-3 days. So this dealer would offer to pay 25% of the heating bill for the month the windows were installed. This seems like a pretty reasonable proposition; in addition, the windows began lowering heating bills immediately -- and now provide the comfort my family was looking for and the energy savings I was anticipating.
Next time you think the winter months are a bad time to install your windows, think about the different options that might be available to you. The winter may actually be the best time to get them installed.
I get a lot of questions as to what is going to happen in 2011. I have to admit I’m basically an optimist so I really believe that we are going to see a better recovery than is being forecast. I don’t see a boom, but I do think we could see GDP approaching 4% growth rather than the 2.5% that I’ve been hearing. That may not sound like much, but it is a sixty percent improvement, nothing to scoff at. It won’t stop the job issue in the near term, although I’m told anything over about 3% means job growth. Job growth of any kind will further stimulate the economy. Kind of feeds on itself, growing economy means job growth, which means more economic growth, which means more job growth. Isn’t free enterprise great!
In addition for the replacement window industry two major research studies, one by Ducker Research, sponsored by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, and one done by the Harvard Housing Research Center; both are forecasting 10%+ gains in sales next year – thank goodness. Since our window industry started into the recession early, sometime in 2006, we seem to be coming out earlier than many other industries and not much could make us happier. It’s been the most difficult recession for this industry I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been part of the industry since it began in the early 1960’s.
I’ve also been asked about the Energy Star Program for next year and there are still some unanswered questions. As you may know the Energy Tax Credit is set to expire at the end of this year. As you may also know, some areas of the country need more than just an Energy Star approved window to earn the tax credit. The question is whether or not the tax credit, or a variation on the theme, will be re-instated for next year. There are bills pending to extend it, but who knows what will happen. There is also talk that if this lame duck Congress doesn’t extend it, that it is likely to happen with the new Congress come the first quarter. If I were buying windows now or even well into next year, that could not be installed until next year, thus missing the tax credit opportunity, I would buy tax credit approved windows even though Energy Star windows may be quite acceptable for my location. The chance that the tax credit or a variation is approved next year sounds pretty likely, so why take the chance of not qualifying if it does get extended?
One of the most common questions from someone who is interested in buying new windows is in regards to the appearance of Low-E glass. There is a misconception that Low-E glass is very dark and hard to see through.
Over the years, glass manufacturers have made significant strides in increasing the thermal performance of Low-E glass while minimizing the darker tints.
Technically “clear” glass only transmits 81% of visible light. Most standard Low-E glass allows 72% of the visible light through, while the higher performing Low-E glasses might allow 64% through.
Although it might sound like that is stopping a lot of the visible light, consider your car. The top 6 inches of your windshield is more tinted than the rest and the side windows are far more tinted than clear glass. Most people don’t find those levels of tint “too dark” when they consider the thermal and UV benefits that this tinting offers.
Also think about the windows in your office building. Many office buildings are built with or recently renovated to have Low-E glass. Does it look “too dark” when you look out of your office window?
While “dark” is a matter of personal preference, most people don’t even notice that their windows have Low-E glass once they are installed. If you have any concerns, speak with the salesperson that you are working with. They will have several glass samples for you to review to make the decision of what will work best for your home.
I’m amazed at how fast painted exterior finishes on vinyl windows and doors have grown in our industry. It was really just a few short years ago that this finish process was virtually nonexistent with any window fabricator. The new water based coatings such as the Aqua SurTech’s D-200 we provide, have remarkable adhesion and durability properties compared to solvent based attempts in years past. These exterior colors have added a whole new dimension to what can be done to satisfy customers who want more than just a white window. Not only is this water based coating safe for the environment, having exceptionally low VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), its chemistry also allows for dark colors to be used without fear of fading or distorting the vinyl in severe heat conditions. Click on the following link to learn more about or view Gorell's vinyl finish options.
We all hear about how various household items being marketed – from refrigerators to windows – are “ENERGY STAR qualified.” Ever wondered what that really means? I’m currently in the market for a new refrigerator, and the only thing I’m concerned about regarding Energy Star is whether or not the appliance has the Energy Star label. It either has it or it doesn’t.
Windows and doors are very unique when it comes to Energy Star. Like other items, they do have to be tested and must meet certain performance criteria to carry the Energy Star label. However, the testing is very different than that done on other items. The tests for windows and doors take into account the entire window or door—such as the window “style” (single-hung, double-hung, sliding, picture, casement or awning), the material the frame is constructed of (vinyl, aluminum, wood, etc.), and –most importantly -- the type of glass used. Double or triple-pane. The Low-E coatings used on the glass and their effectiveness. Whether or not the window has inert gas between the glass panes – and if so – the type of gas. Even the options selected for windows and doors affect their performance – and therefore, their ability to meet Energy Star requirements for labeling.
It gets even more interesting – especially in comparison to Energy Star requirements and ratings for other products – when you realize that windows and doors can qualify for the Energy Star label in one or more zones of the country – but not in others. There are actually four climate zones, and windows can qualify in numerous combinations of one, two, three or four zones. So when purchasing windows, for example, consumers need to determine whether the windows they’re considering are Energy Star qualified for the region they live in.
As with practically everything else that we purchase, there are testing requirements for windows and doors. When a new product is developed for the various areas of the country—once the design is complete and looks good ‘on paper’—the window or door is subjected to rigorous testing requirements. Here’s a short list of what is covered:
Ease of operation
Air infiltration testing
Water performance testing
Structural overload testing
Forced entry testing
NFRC (U-value, Solar Heat Gain, etc.)
Many other tests are performed, but the ones mentioned are the ones that most consumers are concerned with.
During testing, small changes might need to be made get optimum performance of the product. Once the product has passed all requirements set forth in the testing specification, it is assigned a design pressure (DP) rating at a given size. If modifications were made during the tests, these revisions are made to the product. All this is done prior to going to market.
If you’re in the market for new windows, you may find it to be a daunting task. First select the framing material that you prefer to narrow your search. Concentrate your efforts into air infiltration, NFRC data of the product, and the design pressure required for your geographical location. But above all— and this is very important – choose a good, reputable installer. Without a good installation, all of the testing mentioned above is for naught.
There are many situations where a homeowner wants to improve the performance or the appearance of their home, but decides not to replace their existing windows with state of the art, high performance replacement windows. This may be for aesthetic reasons; they love the look of their existing windows, the color, the moldings and trims, etc. It may be that they are concerned about the new lead paint requirements and don’t want to put up with that aggravation. Or it may be because the cost of new high performance replacement windows is just out of reach right now.
Regardless of the reason, high performance storm windows offer a viable alternative to full window replacement. A high performance storm window is mounted to the exterior of your existing prime window, all the work is on the outside of your home. It can even incorporate a hard surfaced low emissivity coating on the glass to improve both the energy efficiency (U Factor) and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). No, they will not do as much for energy savings as a top quality high performance glass replacement window, but they will significantly improve the performance of existing prime windows that do not currently have a high performance glass option. They also give a new, clean look to the exterior of your home and make your home more comfortable to live in.
So if for whatever reason you’ve decided not to upgrade your home at this time by replacing the existing prime windows with state of the art new windows, consider adding Low E storm windows to at least your most energy-wasting windows. See the chart below for estimated levels of improvement depending on the type of prime window you currently have.
Percentage Improvement in U Factors and Solar Heat Gain Coefficients by Adding a Hard Coat Low E storm window to an existing prime window*:
1. Wood Prime Window with single glass:
U Factor — 20%, SHGC — 12%
2. Wood Prime Window with double-pane glass:
U Factor — 16%, SHGC — 12%
3. Wood Prime Window with double-pane glass w/Low E:
U Factor — 15%, SHGC — 7%
4. Aluminum Prime Window with single glass:
U Factor — 12%, SHGC — 12%
5. Aluminum Prime Window with double-pane glass:
U Factor — 9%, SHGC — 12%
6. Aluminum Prime Window with double-pane glass w/Low E :
U Factor — 8%, SHGC — 7%
7. Vinyl Prime Window with single glass:
U Factor — 21%, SHGC — 12%
8. Vinyl Prime Window with double-pane glass:
U Factor — 16%, SHGC — 12%
9. Vinyl Prime Window with double-pane glass w/Low E :
U Factor — 15%, SHGC — 7%
* Storm window analysis based on Industry Test Laboratory Computer Simulation.
I was recently asked by a homeowner on our website how we compare to one of the big new construction oriented window manufacturers, Andersen Windows, and here is my response.
“In reality, we do not consider Andersen our competitor as they are primarily in the new construction window business and we are very much concentrated on replacement windows." This person also had a concern of dealing with an independent contractor versus ‘directly’ with a large company like them. "As far as the independent contractor concern, it really is the same as when you deal with Renewal by Andersen, the only difference is that they franchise independent contractors, locking them into contracts with extensive marketing requirements, some of these contractors find the grass really wasn't greener, and leave the franchise when the contract runs out. We have no contracts and no restrictions on our group of professional window dealers. We deal with them and they us because they want to do business with us. We strive to select the best dealer - ethical, responsible, and professional - in each market area we serve. With literally thousands of window manufacturers in the U.S., dealers have a wide choice of suppliers.
As far as the big companies, Andersen is gigantic - more than ten times our size, they were well over a billion dollars in sales annually (not sure what the housing collapse has done to them), as are a few other manufacturers like JeldWen, Pella, with Marvin approaching that number, all of these companies are really focused on new construction. They all venture into the retrofit arena when housing starts are in the bucket, but will refocus on new construction when the economy comes back.
As far as the products, replacement windows are normally better products than new construction products because most people looking to buy new homes don't look at the windows when making their decisions, they look through them, so builders traditionally use the least expensive products they can find. People only start looking at windows when they have problems with them, then they look for features and options. We are a replacement window manufacturer; Andersen is a new construction window manufacturer who has a replacement window division. I've been in the replacement window business since I was a teenager working summers for my father's company, starting when the replacement window industry began back in the middle 1960's. The first commercially available replacement window made in the United States was made in the building we now occupy. Andersen started making replacement windows a few years ago when they found that it was actually a bigger market than new construction, it's just very fragmented with many small manufacturers, some say over 10,000 of them.
Now as far as our products specifically, we use all vinyl, which I believe to be the best framing material for windows. It is easily formed into complex shapes, it is impervious to moisture, it is stain resistant, and it is a good thermal barrier. I've made windows framed in aluminum, wood, fiberglass and vinyl, and vinyl is head and shoulders the best material to make windows out of as it is impervious to nature, and windows are what keep Mother Nature from entering your home. Wood swells, shrinks and rots and needs regular maintenance. Aluminum is cold but structurally sound and good for giant commercial type windows. Fiberglass is just what its name infers; a material whose strength comes from glass fibers, and glass is not a good thermally protective material. All of these other materials need an applied finish of some kind to protect them and to make them aesthetically acceptable. None of these other materials can be welded for completely sealed corners, protecting your home from moisture infiltration into your walls. We offer more color options, more wood grains, many more glass options from basic to the best energy performance available. We furnish better view screening material at no extra charge. We offer virtually any color exterior you would like.
We have multiple models of products to fit every budget and every application. We offer hurricane resistant products and security products for your home. We have two different sliding patio doors and a hinged patio door, all available with lots of options. We offer ventilating latches as standard with state of the art locking mechanisms. All of our products are of our design, created specifically for replacement applications. We make our products custom to your home, every 1/8" in width and in height for a perfect fit. We have the best bow and bay window systems on the market and can also offer you garden windows or shaped window, circles, octagons and such. We are a replacement window manufacturer, that is our only focus.
We are the only window manufacturer partnering with the National Crime Prevention Council because of our home security window products. We are the winner, like Andersen is for only the last two years, of the national Energy Star Partner of the Year award, but we've won it every year since 2004. We are Green Seal certified, as is Andersen. And to summarize, I believe that we care more about our customers.”
There’s a new energy tax credit being debated in Congress. Based on what I’m reading, you may want to act this year if you are thinking about replacing windows.
The initial language of the bill says homeowners would get 10%—or up to a $200 (capped)—tax rebate if you purchase windows that are Energy Star qualified. There is a second way to increase your rebate. If you purchase replacement windows that meet or exceed the R-5 program, you can get up to 30% or up to $1000 (capped). Click here to see the Energy Star / R-5 chart.
The current expiring tax credit allows you a 30% tax credit up to $1,500 for this year. For homeowners to qualify for this tax credit, you must purchase windows with a .30 U-value and a .30 Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). Most Energy Star labeled windows fall into this category, but you need to make sure this is what you’re purchasing.
Also, with the Energy Tax Credit that is expiring at the end of this year, it’s important to note that—to get the rebate—the windows must be installed or be “in service” by December 31, 2010. Because many manufacturers have lead times, and many remodeling companies have installation lead times, it’s important to order now. This will ensure you getting your windows installed before the end of the year and qualifying yourself for up to $1,500 in tax credits.
To see the draft language of the proposed bill, visit click here.
More than 25 years ago, the National Crime Prevention Council—and McGruff the Crime Dog—designated October Crime Prevention Month. That makes this a good time to think about the safety and security of our homes, our schools and our communities.
We all worry about how safe our families—and our possessions—are. We all wonder, at least occasionally, whether an intruder could possibly get into our homes. When it comes to home invasion, most burglars get in through windows and doors. So what can be done to keep homes more secure against break-ins? There are common-sense things you should do—like keep your windows and doors locked, and remove shrubs and trees from in front of your windows so possible intruders don’t have any hiding spots. But, depending on the home, maybe more drastic measures should be considered—like replacing old, un-secure windows or doors with newer, laminated glass models.
Ever rearrange your furniture or rugs and notice that the hardwood floors underneath the furniture is a darker color? Well that's because the rest of your flooring has faded due to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Just as you do with your skin, you need to protect your furniture, floors and draperies from the sun.
Many consumers aren’t aware of the UV protection benefits of windows incorporating high-performance glass options. Gorell offers various glass systems that achieve the highest FPF rating available – FPF 50!
Fade Protection Factor (FPF) is a measurement of the glass systems ability to block fabric fading UV rays. Like Sun Protection Factor (SPF) for sunscreens, FPF is a rating achieved through independent laboratory testing. A higher FPF number means greater fade protection for household furnishings because the glass and coatings block virtually all of the UVA and UVB rays.
While glass systems can't completely eliminate fabric fading - some can significantly reduce it. Light that gets into a home through open windows and doors can still cause fading. The speed at which fabrics and hardwood floors fade is also affected by temperature and humidity.
Many consumers look at a high FPF as a cost-avoidance benefit because it can significantly delay fading damage to hardwood floors, couches, curtains and artwork. The windows are helping them to protect their investments and increase the lifespan of the furnishings in their home.
If you want to see the FPF ratings of the various glass systems we are offering, they are available on the Glass Selection Chart.
Being involved in the manufacturing industry, not only as an employee of a window manufacturing company, but as the president of our county's manufacturing consortium, I've learned to appreciate more and more the importance of what industry means to the survival of our country. Many say that we are moving to a "service" society, and we can purchase our manufactured goods from other countries. There are two major issues here:
First, not having the ability to manufacture things in the United States would require us, especially in emergency situations, to rely on other countries to provide our military equipment, components for our infrastructure and other basic necessities, without which we may not be able to prosper.
Second, many economists feel that manufacturing is the only true industry that creates wealth — taking raw materials, developing them into products and selling them at a profit. This process creates the value needed by this country to grow. Service industries are often called negative wealth industries, since they only trade dollars for services and, after that transaction, the government takes its share, leaving less for the provider.
Despite what you may read or hear in the news, even though the large auto and steel manufacturing companies may be struggling, there are thousands of small- and medium-size entrepreneurs that have created companies to supply many of the items that we buy every day. It's important that we support the manufacturing industry, and encourage our youth to consider careers in manufacturing to keep our industry growing.
So, as you consider product purchases, be they windows, refrigerators, or vacuum cleaners, think about looking for products that are built by American workers. In addition, encourage your representatives to do what they can to support and strengthen the backbone of our economy — manufacturing.
We recently undertook a project at Gorell to determine the impact of energy-efficient windows and doors in terms of energy saved. Having kept detailed records of all the windows and doors built—including the various high-performance glass systems used in each—since we began manufacturing in 1994, we were able to compute the approximate number of BTUs our products have saved.
Next we went to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for help in converting our data into information consumers could more easily relate to. We were directed to IUP professor Dr. Keith Kyler, who worked with one of his chemistry classes to calculate formulas to convert the BTUs being saved by Gorell products to relevant consumer measures.
We were astounded by the results and, now knowing the savings, were able to create a counter on our web site that continually shows the approximate amount of energy, money and gallons of gas being saved.
Special thanks to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and especially to Dr. Kyler of IUP’s Chemistry Department and his chemistry class. The energy savings counter was just placed on Gorell’s home page this past weekend. To see it, visit http://www.gorell.com
If you’re planning to purchase windows—or appliances, lighting, computers, or many other products—you’ve probably heard the term "ENERGY STAR" being tossed around. You may have been told that ENERGY STAR labeled products are more energy efficient and that they’ll help save you money on your home energy bills. But do you know what the ENERGY STAR program really is? Or what it means for a product to be ENERGY STAR qualified?
ENERGY STAR is a government/industry program designed to help consumers and businesses quickly and easily identify energy-efficient products that help save money and protect the environment for future generations.
In 1992, the EPA introduced ENERGY STAR as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify energy-efficient computers and monitors. Through 1995, EPA expanded the program to include additional office equipment, as well as residential heating and cooling products. In 1996, EPA partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy for specific product categories. It’s pretty amazing that the ENERGY STAR label is now displayed on over 40 product categories—everything from major appliances to office equipment, home lighting, home electronics, windows and more.
As for windows and doors, that specific ENERGY STAR program was created in 1999. Not all windows qualify for the ENERGY STAR label. They first must be tested by an independent laboratory to meet strict criteria pertaining to energy efficiency and light transmittance. The ratings they achieve differ because of variables such as the glass used, style, and product design and construction.
The benefits? ENERGY STAR labeled windows help reduce energy costs, increase a home’s comfort, and protect against UV damage. Plus, they’re better for the environment—because they reduce green house gas emissions—and for the country because they reduce the America’s dependency on foreign oil. More information on the program is available at www.energystar.gov
The way consumers shop has changed drastically over the past 20 years. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shopping for electronics, home-improvement services, or another big-ticket item—you really don’t need to make all those trips from store to store to compare products and prices. That’s because now most of us do the research right from our own homes—on-line.
The Internet has opened up a whole new world to consumers. You can research brands, compare prices and warranties, and even get other consumers’ opinions and ratings—all from the comfort of your home.
Before investing in any major purchases—home improvement or otherwise—I highly recommend “knowing your stuff.” What I mean is this: you no longer have to depend solely on what a salesperson tells you. Instead, check out a number of different products on-line. If, for instance, you are researching windows, some of your questions might be: What frame material is more energy efficient, wood or vinyl? What do all NFRC ratings mean, and what are the ratings for the products I’m considering? Do the products qualify for the ENERGY STAR label? Which window operating style will work best for my home? Which manufacturers have the best reputation for quality? Who offers the best warranties?
Research a number of manufacturers and products and, once you decide what type of product you like, compare “apples to apples”—in terms of cost, energy efficiency, installation, expected life, warranty, etc. Visit blogs or chat rooms and find out what experiences other consumers have had with various products and companies.
The Internet has opened up a world of possibilities when it comes to researching and making buying decisions. We should all take advantage of this valuable tool to make educated buying decisions!
It’s getting more and more difficult to watch network news anymore. It seems chaos and crises are the only things discussed in the news. Good news is seldom given, and it’s rarely acknowledged that there may be some good news to talk about. The economy “may” be going into a double dip, the job picture “could” get worse, consumer confidence and spending “may” decline, etc.
Why can’t news be given with more of a positive spin instead of one that’s constantly negative? For example, why not report on the positive signs that the economy is recovering? Why not look at the positive side of the job picture that shows improvement, even if may be occurring at a slower rate than we’d like? And surely there are areas where consumer confidence is stronger or at least holding steady. It’s all about how the news is given -- a positive spin instead of “doom and gloom” can be a contributing element to our recovering economy.
I spend a lot of time reading and watching business-oriented news. I sincerely believe things ARE getting better—maybe not very quickly or dramatically--and probably not as quickly as we would all like, but unquestionably things are better today than they were six months ago, a year ago, and even two years ago. Why can’t any of the networks’ talking heads acknowledge that?
I’m convinced that if people start hearing some good news, they will begin feeling better about themselves and their situations. It feeds on itself: If you start feeling better about your situation, then you might buy something you need for yourself, your family or your home. If you’re overwhelmed with negative news, it’s pretty hard to part with your hard-earned money, even when you really need something.
Think about where the economy was a year ago. We’ve improved dramatically. Why isn’t anyone saying that? Because it isn’t of interest-- or because it’s more newsworthy to be negative? I just don’t understand the why’s, but I do recognize the facts: positive news must not be interesting. Well, I’ve decided I’m just not going to listen to network news or read most newspapers anymore. Cable and business news will be my source for news. There I can read or hear about how the personal savings rate is much higher, consumer debt is much lower, income for the 90-plus percent of employed working families is up --- there’s a LOT of positive news to talk about if you only want to.
Yes, housing is still a problem, as is the remodeling industry because it's linked to housing, but as consumer confidence improves, these industries will improve, too. That’s what we need—consumer confidence and positive thinking. Chin up, it’s already gotten better, and it is continuing to get better every day.
The Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC) provides excellent information about utility and state programs homeowners can access to either save or get money back on home improvement projects that result in more energy-efficient homes. The EWC's latest report, "Incentives and Rebates for Energy-Efficient Windows," was published in July. A PDF of the report can be found at http://www.efficientwindows.org/UtilityIncentivesWindows.pdf. In the report's introduction, the EWC poses three questions that set the stage for helping homeowners locate programs in their states.
1. Do you intend to equip your home with high-performance, energy-efficient windows?
2. Do you plan to improve your home in a way that lowers energy costs and provides for a comfortable interior?
3. Are you looking for utility programs within your state that can help you finance such an investment in efficient windows?
According to Nils Petermann of the EWC, The Efficient Windows Collaborative is actually a project operated by non-profit and research organizations such as the Alliance to Save Energy, the University of Minnesota and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It's supported by member organizations the Department of Energy. Hats off to the Efficient Windows Collaborative for providing their excellent work and for this special report.
With all the talk of the Lead Renovate Repair Paint Law (LRRP), I am noticing how this is affecting everyday homeowners. Just to do a quick summary of the LRRP law, it affects homes that were built before 1978. If you are doing any renovation, the remodeling company is required to test your home for lead. If your home tests positive for lead, the contractor is required to use lead-safe practices. It doesn’t matter if you are having windows replaced, having your kitchen redone, etc., the LRRP encompasses 99% of remodeling work.
There was an “opt-out” clause available, where if you didn’t have children under six or pregnant women residing the house, you could opt out of having your contractor use lead-safe practices. The major focus and thrust of the LRRP law is to protect children from lead poisoning. I think this is a worthy endeavor we can all get behind.
If your pre-1978 built house tests positive for lead, and the criteria above don’t exist, homeowners still are required to have their contractors use lead-safe practices. If you are doing replacement windows, the industry has shown that the additional cost for using lead-safe practices is a whopping $120/window (this is on the low end of the scale).
Let’s focus on the point of protecting children. I’m raising two little girls myself, and I certainly don’t want them to be exposed to lead—so I definitely understand the importance of using lead-safe practices. Now removing the opt-out clause is another matter and a discussion for a different time. I want to focus on something that concerns me even more, however.
I ran across an article, http://tinyurl.com/2u2al23about drinking water from household plumbing. I found it both shocking and alarming. In 1986, the federal government enacted a law that reduced the amount of lead in our drinking water plumbing. However, faucets labeled as 'lead free' today still contain up to a quarter pound of lead.
It has been explained to many companies in the construction industry that the amount of lead that can poison a small child is less than the amount of sugar found in a small packet. Yet, a faucet we can purchase today can be labeled lead-free and still contain a whopping quarter pound of lead.
This same article also cited other known alarming facts. For example, lead will leach into our drinking water more so with lead found in pipes as well as the lead found in faucets. The article proceeds to say that children under six will absorb and retain 50% of the lead they ingest. The EPA also concludes that 15-20% of children's exposure to lead comes from drinking water.
I want children to be safe from lead poisoning. I can get behind the LRRP law when it comes to protecting children but not taking away the rights of homeowners who don’t have children. I believe the opt-out rule should be put back in the LRRP law. But what concerns me even more is drinking water—my children drink water everyday. I would rather have the EPA focus on lead in our water rather than on pre-built 1978 homes that don’t have children residing in them.
One of the things we've been hearing from homeowners this year about purchasing replacement windows for their homes is NOT that they don't have the interest or intent to replace their old windows, but that they can't get the financing to buy them. This has been disheartening to many because if there has ever been a time to replace their old inefficient windows with new highly energy-efficient windows, it's NOW! We all know that heating and cooling costs continue to climb. And they know that the current $1,500 tax credit for replacing their windows will expire this December. Having energy-efficient windows installed this year would allow them to lower their home energy costs immediately.
Just think about the frigid weather we had this past winter throughout most of the country. Think about the weather this summer -- it's been one of the hottest on record.
So, we all know that replacing those old windows makes perfect sense. But what if the banks aren't willing to finance a home improvement loan? While banks are starting to lend money, it continues to be a challenge for many. It may not be as available as we'd like it to be, but it's better than it has been in quite a while.
As a solution, many Gorell dealers also offer financing from GE Money, and we're pleased to now announce the addition of another finance programs from a solid and reputable financing company, AFC First. Both GE Money and AFC First specialize in home improvement loans for energy-efficiency upgrades. Gorell dealers have already begun to sign up with AFC First so that they can offer homeowners another source of financing, but please ask them about these programs when discussing Gorell windows and doors with them. With financing opportunities like these becoming available, we're confident homeowners will have the opportunities to have windows installed before the end of the year.
Too often we see and hear advertising that screams “Hurry! Once-in-a-Lifetime offer! This price will never be this low again!” And we become skeptical – because next month the offer is repeated and the price may be as low or lower.
The government’s ENERGY TAX CREDIT PROGRAM, which ends this December 31, 2010, should NOT be looked at in the same light. This program, which offers homeowners up to $1,500 to install qualified energy-efficient windows, is a really good one that probably will not be repeated because of our country’s growing debt.
Moreover, another huge reason for homeowners to take advantage of the program is that installing highly energy-efficient windows and doors LOWERS home energy bills – so it puts more cash in consumers’ pockets IMMEDIATELY once these products are installed. That’s besides all the other benefits, like easier maintenance and a more comfortable and more beautiful home.
What’s the catch? Well, it’s not really a catch, but it’s important for homeowners to know that — to get the tax credit — qualifying windows and doors must be INSTALLED before December 31, not just purchased! Some people might say, "But it’s a long way to the end of the year — There’s plenty of time."
Not exactly true. The problem is that it takes time for consumers to research products, meet with a home-improvement company, make decisions about product styles, colors and options and arrange for financing when needed. Then, the contract has to be executed, the measuring done and several weeks are needed for companies like ours to manufacture and deliver the windows or doors to the dealer. Lastly, the home-improvement company or contractor needs to schedule the installation, with new projects going to the end of the line.
The entire process easily takes months, and you can imagine that — as we get closer to the end of the year — the number of people recognizing the need to move on this tax credit opportunity will increase exponentially. I am 100 percent certain that a great many people who want to take advantage of the tax credit program will lose out because they waited too long. We saw it last year with a huge rush in orders at the end of the year. The difference is the credit lasted from 2009 through 2010, so the ones who missed getting products installed for year-end 2009 had the ability to still take advantage of the credit in 2010. Yes, they missed the credit for the 2009 tax returns, but at least they could take advantage of it this year. The credit is not scheduled to continue, and there is no talk in Congress to continue the credit. December 31, 2010, you either have had your windows and doors replaced or you lose the opportunity to save $1,500 forever.
I urge homeowners who need new windows and doors to start NOW, today, to ensure they beat the rush and get both the tax credit money, as well as all the other immediate benefits of having new windows and doors!
At the very end of 2009, there was a surge of purchases of qualifying windows and doors for the $1,500 federal tax credit program. It's likely that many consumers didn't realize that they had another year to have qualifying products purchased and installed.
There will almost certainly be another surge at the end of 2010. This year, however, will be different than 2009 for several reasons:
1. There is no additional year in which to participate in the program.
2. To qualify for the credit, qualifying products must not only be purchased, they must be INSTALLED before Dec. 31, 2010.
3. Contractors installing replacement windows and doors will likely have a backlog of projects for homeowners who want to have their windows installed in time.
If you want to take advantage of the tax credit, you may want to take action immediately. Do your research on qualifying products and make decisions on what to purchase. Contact a dealer from whom to purchase qualifying windows and/or doors and ensure the dealer will install them before December 31. Unless it can be proved the windows and doors were installed in 2010, they will not be eligible for the federal tax credit.
It seems like a long time away, but energy tax credits on replacement windows and doors expire at the end of the year. Just a reminder, on windows and doors that qualify for the tax credit (.30 U-value and .30 SHGC), as a homeowner, you are eligible to receive a tax CREDIT of either 30% of the job -- or a cap of $1,500 (less labor). And remember, this is a tax credit, not a rebate.
Also, certain reflective insulations also qualify for the tax credit. Here's a web site of one that does qualify, www.radiaflect.com.
Here are some details that you need to remember for the tax credit. The windows, doors and insulation need to be purchased for your principal residence to qualify. Also, unfortunately, windows for new homes and rental units do not qualify for the credits. Check with your accountant about other details regarding the credit -- including how much you pay in federal income tax, because this will affect the tax credit you'll receive.
When you make the purchase for your home, make sure you get the manufacturers certification statement -- along with the costs of the windows or reflective insulation -- to include with your taxes.
Let's take advantage of these credits while they last. It makes a difference for the environment, for the economy, and for your personal energy savings!
As Congress debates the details of the Home Star bill many people have asked the question of which federal program is better for them – Home Star or the Tax Credit program. Many consumers have delayed their buying decision until they learn whether Home Star will ever be passed and if so, what the final language will mean to them. As with most decisions like this, there isn’t a clear-cut answer. It really depends on your situation.
The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) created a tax credit for homeowners who replaced their old windows with new energy efficient replacement windows. The tax credit allowed the homeowner to receive a credit of 30% of the window cost (excluding installation), with a maximum of $1,500. The money would come in the form of a tax credit on your tax returns. As with most tax credits, it reduces your tax liability. If you have no taxable income or tax liability that can be reduced, you wouldn’t receive a benefit. For the average working class person, this tax credit is a significant incentive and would increase their tax rebate or reduce their tax payment in April.
The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 is a bill that is being debated in Congress now. It isn’t clear whether this will ever become a law or not. So, there is a risk is waiting to see if it gets passed because the tax credit program expires on 12/31/10. You don’t want to miss out on both of these programs. The draft language of Home Star proposes upfront refunds on energy efficiency upgrades to your home. This could include windows, insulation, water heaters, HVAC, etc. Replacing windows would potentially offer a rebate of $1,000 if 8+ windows were replaced (or 75% of the windows in the home). This $1,000 would be taken off of the contract price from the home improvement company who sells you the windows. They would then apply for a refund from the government. This is similar to the Cash for Clunkers program that car dealerships offered.
The program that is best for you depends on your individual situation. The pros for the tax credit are that it exists today and the rebate amount for windows is higher. Home Star, if passed, would provide a lesser amount for windows, but it would be upfront money. Home Star would also have the benefit of allowing you to do multiple efficiency upgrades at one time to allow for an even higher rebate. e.g. – You could replace your windows, add insulation to your attic and add a solar hot water heater. This might result in several thousand dollars in discounts, but you’d have a much higher investment cost to get those returns.
Regardless of which program you feel best suits your needs; you don’t want to pass up these opportunities because they won’t be around for long.
We’re hearing all the time in the media how green materials, Energy Star qualified products, and home renovations will save us money and energy. The “green movement” has exploded, and green products are advertised everywhere TV, newspapers and the Internet. Every company says their products are energy efficient and good for the environment and this makes it difficult to choose, as consumers, when purchasing major home-improvement items, such as windows. So what’s the best way to decide which products really are the best value for your money?
Do your research. See what different groups and organizations such as Energy Star, the DOE, or various research facilities or universities have to say. What savings or benefits do they estimate you will receive from window replacement or another home improvement? Do be cautious, however. The old axiom still applies. Don’t believe everything you read. That’s why it’s important to get positions or opinions from several organizations or knowledgeable individuals and to be sure the data you’re studying applies to your climate area.
The bottom line? Most everyone agrees that any renovation such as windows, doors, insulation, etc. that makes your home more energy efficient WILL save you dollars on energy bills. It remains simply a question of how much will you save in your specific case? Just do your homework and decide which type of improvement and which specific product will provide the best savings for your home. Keep your expectations real, and buy smart and you’ll be a happy customer!
Window and door screens have evolved in remarkable ways over the years. From aluminum mesh to fiberglass. From large, hard-to-see-through yarns to micro-diameter threads that provide a clearer, better view.
Modern technology has given us screens that are made of much better materials than “old-school” aluminum mesh. Today we have durable, fire-retardant fiberglass yarns that are coated with a protective vinyl to make them hold up better for many years. Unlike aluminum, fiberglass mesh won’t rust, corrode or stain.
Mesh size is another important factor in window and door screens. Yarns that are smaller in diameter actually provide a better view of the outdoors and even allow more airflow through the screen. And the tighter the mesh, the more effective these screens are at keeping out insects—even the tiniest gnats.
The newest technology now allows screens to provide antimicrobial protection as well. This means that screens can protect against the growth of stain-causing bacteria and mold and mildew that can degrade the fabric. This, in turn helps make homes safer and healthier for families—because those bacteria and mold can cause illness or allergies. Screens that incorporate antimicrobial technology also stay cleaner for longer in between cleanings—an important benefit for busy homeowners and working parents who have less time to devote to cleaning!
One last thing to consider in regard to window and door screens is how “Green” they are—how good are they for the environment? Some screen manufacturers have had their new products tested to see if they meet strict chemical emissions limits, which contribute to the creation of healthier homes. BetterVue screens—offered on Gorell products—have achieved the prestigious GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification.
Even though it might seem screens are not as important today because we keep our homes closed up most of the year, it’s still important to ask about the screens that come with the windows or doors you’re planning to purchase because there will be times you want your windows and doors to be open. Screens provide beauty, protection against insects and bugs, and mold protection, as well as provide a breath of fresh air and a vie
There is a new lead/EPA law coming to your home April 22, 2010, whether you want it or not. For homeowners that own pre 1978 homes, all remodelers whether they are replacing windows, siding, kitches, soffit, facia, etc. may be using lead safe practices in your home. The way the new law reads today is this. If there are children under 6 or pregnant women in the house, lead safe practices need to be recognized and used. This last statement is only a brief section of the law so you will want to look further into the details - for example if a child visits a home twice a week for 3 hours or more - lead safe practices also need to be used. As a father of two little children, I can get behind protecting children from lead poisoning if this was all there was to it.
However, things are much more complicated. There is an opt out clause currently in the law. There is a likelihood that this opt out will be removed. If this happens, any person owning a pre 1978 home will be required to have their remodeler use lead safe practices. You will not have the choice, the EPA will have decided for you. Why pre 1978 homes? This is when lead paint was 'banned.' So if you own a pre 78 home, there is a good chance your home contains some amount of lead.
But how does this effect us as homeowners. First, the costs of doing remodeling projects are going to skyrocket. Using lead safe practices is not inexpensive both from a labor and materials perspective. Also, less and less remodelers will be willing to do work on pre 1978 homes because of the added hassle and expense. If there are less contractors willing to do this work, there will be less competition for people wanting to do work on my home. This will lead to costs increasing even further.
Because as homeowners, we have had to work with smaller budgets, the smaller jobs we have been doing over the past couple of years are going to be economically prohibitive because of the new costs associated with lead safe practices. Because our pre 1978 homes will be tested for lead, when we go to sell our home, we will have to note this on our disclosures. So if we do remodeling work, we are penalized for this compared to our neighbor who also owns a pre 1978 home and doesn't have remodeling work done - or did the work before April 22, 2010. They don't or didn't have to disclose it because lead testing wasn't required.
With the added costs associated with remodeling, we are in essence taxed for it. We want to be rewarded for making our older homes more energy efficient, not penalized for it. I have been writing my lawmakers about this and if you agree, I encourage you to do the same.
There are two major parts to the changes in the ENERGY STAR Windows & Doors program that will occur on January 4, 2010.The first change has to do with the four climate zones.The borders of each zone have moved.It’s important for you to know which zone you reside in. You can see the new map on the ENERGY STAR website (www.energystar.gov). It features a zip code lookup tool to help you find your area.
The other major change is an increase in thermal performance requirements—in the U-value and Solar Heat Gain values that products must achieve to qualify.
So how will the new performance requirements affect you if you’re considering Gorell windows for your home?If you purchase Eco Master or any of our triple-glass systems, there will be no change.All of these high-performance glass systems will still qualify in all zones.
If you are considering AC Master, it will depend on which products you purchase and in which zone you live.Some will qualify, but not all. Contact your Gorell dealer to determine which products still qualify with AC Master.
Starting on 1/1/10, Gorell’s laminated glass systems will incorporate our SolarControl Max Low-E—to ensure that every Gorell laminated glass system qualifies in all ENERGY STAR climate zones.
For additional information on the new 2010 ENERGY STAR criteria, visit the ENERGY STAR web site at www.energystar.gov, or contact your local Gorell dealer.
If you’re still considering replacing your windows in 2009, you may be finding that window dealers or home improvement companies are not as available as before to meet with you to discuss windows. This is actually not unusual, because traditionally November is a time when homeowners rush to replace their windows before the colder weather arrives -- and window dealers have more work than they can handle.
Compounding this situation this year are a few additional factors. One is pent-up demand and the improving economy. Many who waited because of lack of confidence in the country’s financial stability now feel they can make purchases with confidence. Another factor is unquestionably the $1,500 federal Tax Credit program and the rush to purchase qualifying windows before year’s end.
A thing or two about the Tax Credit: One is that windows must be installed in 2009 to be eligible for the credit to be taken on your 2009 return. It’s still possible, of course, but it will be close if you’re ordering windows now. The other thing to remember is that you do have until December, 2010, to take advantage of the program.
The good news? If you do purchase windows now and they are installed in early 2010, you still win financially because you’ll save money with lower winter heating bills – and you still get the tax credit (although later).
Something that homeowners—as well as home improvement professionals—need to be aware of are the new federal lead paint regulations that go into effect in April, 2010. This is a topic that has not received much attention in the media. It applies to homes built prior to 1978 to which renovations are being made, and it has to do with the removal or modification of painted surfaces. If a painted surface in a pre-1978 home is to be disturbed in a way that produces dust, the new regulations will likely apply. A number of home renovations—including window and door replacement—may result in dust from lead paint.
Information for home improvement companies is also included on this web site. See the PDF called “Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right EPA’s Lead-Based Repair, and Painting Program.” It covers what remodelers need to know and do regarding the new legislation.
What time of year is the right time to replace your windows? There really is never a wrong time, but many times, I hear homeowners saying that they want to get their windows in the late fall, just before winter.
This makes perfect sense, especially if you are living in a northern climate. As a homeowner, you want to be protected from the typical cruel winter you experience. By getting new vinyl replacement windows installed in the fall, you can count on feeling comfortable as the temperatures dip below zero.
But, we also experience some of our highest utility costs during the summer months due to the high cost of air conditioners running. Instead of waiting until fall, summer months are great months to replace your windows.
You get the same benefits in the summer months as you would in the winter, better comfort and lower utility bills.
The most expensive window you own is the one already in your house. There never is a bad time to purchase custom fit vinyl replacement windows.
Are banks really lending right now? Well, it depends on who you are listening to. Some sources say that banks are not lending to homeowners, even if they have great credit. Others are saying that banks are now back to lending like they used to.
The truth, as always, is somewhere in between.
Most banks around the country are happy to finance home improvement projects. They are just a bit more cautious about who they lend to.
We’ve heard that some homeowners aren’t even speaking with banks because they assume the news is correct and banks aren’t lending. Well that just isn’t true. We’ve seen that the average, hardworking homeowners are easily able to get the credit they need and deserve.
As a matter of fact, there are some fantastic financing options available these days. Gorell offers a wide variety of financing programs for home improvement projects. Many homeowners are taking advantage of some great low interest loans, some of which are locked for the term of the loan. Others are looking to enjoy the energy-efficiency benefits of their windows today, but want to defer payments for a few months or even up to a year!
When we hear about the construction or housing industry being down, it’s usually more in reference to new home construction. Unfortunately, the recovery of this segment of building may take a while. An article posted June 10 on Window & Door magazine’s web site predicts that it could take several years.
There are currently too many existing homes on the market, mortgage money remains tight, unemployment is close to double digits and many employed homeowners—unsure of their job future—are not thinking about investing in new homes now.
The home-improvement business, on the other hand, is expected to recover much sooner, as early as this year. Homeowners not planning to build new homes soon may be deciding to do something with their present homes to make them better and nicer places to live in.
A smart home-improvement idea is to replace windows. It’s a good decision, economically and otherwise. New windows add to a home’s value. Remodeling magazine reported in January that 77.2% (national average) of the cost of replacing windows is recouped when the home is sold. And that doesn’t factor in the big 2009-2010 federal energy tax credit of up to $1,500. (See http://www.gorell.com/pages/energy_tax_incentive_act.htm for more details on the tax credit.)
Premium-quality replacement windows also save homeowners money because of lower home heating and cooling bills. Window replacement also contributes to a cleaner environment and reduced dependency on foreign oil.