BLOG CATEGORY: Tips and Advice for Homeowners
One thing you can count on is the weather, it will either be good or bad. It is always different than expected, and won't do what the pundits predict. One of my favorite one liners is "weathermen were invented to make economists look good," and it's probably true. Global warming, global cooling, who knows, definitely not the "experts". I clearly remember not so long ago, during Jimmy Carter's era, a real fear of significant global cooling, the next ice age was only a few years in the future. Well, I guess they were right, weathermen do make economists look good.
We've been lucky this year with a pretty mild winter with low natural gas costs on top, making it pretty good for most people. But who knows what February will hold, or March? We could still make up for all the nasty cold weather in the next couple months - who knows. I think the only thing you can do is be thankful for what you have today, hope for what may come tomorrow, and be prepared if things don't quite go the way you hoped.
Sealing up your home with high performance vinyl replacement windows, new entry doors, and a good check and sealing of all cracks and holes in your home will go a long way in making you more prepared for what may come in the future. With the milder winter, it is a great time to think about new windows right now. Most home improvement dealers are slower at this time of year, are offering specials and deals to keep their crews working, and the weather is mild enough to get the work done now and not have to wait until spring. If you've already done all of this, think about the newest energy saver, reflective insulation for your attic. It really works and offers a great return on investment.
Home-improvement industry study indicates replacement windows one of best investments for homeowners!
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.
To read this entire article, visit http://www.dwmmag.com/index.php/realtors-identify-exterior-replacement-projects-as-best-investment-for-homeowners/
‘Tis the Season…for Home Improvements?
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!
Solving the U.S. Job Problem
I just watched a video clip from ABC Evening News on a builder using only Made In America products in his home construction. The story went on to say that if all U.S. builders would just increase their Made in America content by only 5%, that it would increase U.S. employment by 220,000 jobs. WOW!
The best part is it only increased the cost of the house by about 1%. I bet that if the builders would increase their use by the 5%, then prices would be able to come down at least that 1% due to higher production rates and efficiencies at the supplying companies.
Now consider expanding that thought. What if everyone, all consumers, all business, all government agencies increased their buying of products Made in America by just 5%. I'm not advocating just American owned companies, only that the workers that make the finished product work in one of our 50 states. This isn't a corporate profit thing, this is putting Americans back to work. I'm not against free trade and I'm not advocating a big change that could affect the world economy, I'm talking about a 5% change. I believe it would solve the unemployment problem in one year. If you agree, pass it on to your representatives, this just might make a real difference.
And as always, start with highly energy efficient vinyl replacement windows for your home. Made in America, great return on investment, and a good idea all around.
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.
Do your windows and doors “sing” to you?
I read a really interesting article last week titled, “Energy Efficiency Hits from the Doors (and Windows).” The name might sound a bit silly, but it talks about how you can actually feel—and hear!—the difference when you replace leaky old windows and doors with newer, ENERGY STAR qualified models. Comfort, lower energy bills, no drafts or rattling window panes—all benefits that I think many homeowners with old homes would appreciate!
The article also provides an important reminder—consumers can still take advantage of federal tax credits for windows and doors for just a few more weeks. That could save you even more money! However, homeowners who want tax credit benefits must move quickly—because the federal tax credits expire on Dec. 31.
To read this entire blog article, visit http://www.eereblogs.energy.gov/energysavers/post/Energy-Efficiency-Hits-from-the-Doors-(and-Windows).aspx.
Daylight Savings Time Ends This Weekend!
Daylight Savings Time Ends this Weekend!
Daylight Savings Time officially ends this Sunday at 2 a.m., so remember to set your clocks back one hour when you go to bed Saturday night! This can be a challenging transition for many of us. Reality seems to set in, winter is nearly here - and this is the season many of us have trouble with in updating their internal clocks. It’s typically dark outside when you go to work and dark outside when you go home. The daylight hours and time spent outside is limited. However, I read an interesting article this morning about this weekend's time change. Many doctors actually say that "falling back" is a good, healthy event. You can check out this article at http://news.yahoo.com/daylight-saving-time-ends-weekend-healthy-155623460.html.
And enjoy that extra hour of sleep!
Energy-Saving Tips for Energy Awareness Month
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.
So, as a wrap up to Energy Awareness Month, please check out the Department of Energy’s “Home Energy Checklist” (http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/energy_aware_hec.html) to get some ideas on how you can save energy—and money!
Tips for Finding a Replacement Window Contractor
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.
Getting Windows Ready for Winter!
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!
Window and Door Security During Crime Prevention Month
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.
For more window and doors security tips, visit http://www.gorell.com/pages/gorell_mcgruff.htm.
Invest in Building Products
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.
- Energy efficient
- 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!
Energy-efficiency tax credits – there’s still time!!!
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!
Cleaning windows can be easier than ever!
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!
Jobs - not that big a deal
Jobs. The media is nonstop about what the government can do to improve the jobs picture. All the politicians trying to get a new job, to be the President of the United States are talking about their plans. The current administration is going to do a state of the union address on jobs. What none of them seem to understand is the government cannot help the job picture. The only thing they could do is just please get out of the way of small business. Stop scaring the consumer is the one thing that perhaps they could do.
To put the jobs issue into real perspective let's look at the whole picture. Unemployment is running at just under 9% in most areas, some a little better, some a little worse. Well what used to be considered FULL EMPLOYMENT is a 5% unemployment rate. Much under that and businesses have great difficulty in finding qualified workers to fill positions. For most of my business career of over 40 years, the unemployment rate ranged from about 5% to 7% if good economic times. So the issue is at most 4% of qualified workers who want and need a job. All of this talk and frightening rhetoric is about 4% or less of the work force. In my opinion, if the government stopped some of the new onerous regulations that have been promulgated over the last few years, and promised to stop writing any more for awhile, business would know what to expect and start looking at expansion. A 4% problem is not gigantic, it is fixable. Politicians and media please get out of our way.
So if you are thinking about improving your home's energy efficiency, comfort and value by adding new highly energy efficient vinyl replacement windows, do it. Do it now and stopped listening to all the talking heads. We are not in crisis, we are only hearing all this because that is what makes the news. It's your home, it's your family, take care of them both and all will be well. Seize the day, Carpe Diem!
Protecting children from high-level windows.
Those of us with young kids, like myself, know that toddlers can get into trouble anywhere they go. They also have absolutely no concept of fear, or concern for their safety—which leaves us parents watching every move they make and executing many last-minute “saves.” So, when we find a product or a service that helps make our kids a little safer—and gives us one less thing to worry about—it’s pretty much a no-brainer, right?
There’s now a feature like this for replacement windows, called “Window Operating Control Devices” or WOCDs. Have you ever feared that your child may accidentally fall from a second- or third-story window in your home? Been amazed (and terrified!) by how easily your little one could open your windows? That’s what WOCDs help protect against—these tragic accidental falls.
Basically, a WOCD is a ventilation limit latch that is “always on,” which makes it less likely that a child could open a window on his or her own and accidentally fall out. They’re a bright red color and they always stick out—allowing the window to open only a few inches. They must actually be operated to open the sash more than four inches—unlike standard vent latches, which can be toggled on or off. Overall, WOCDs are pretty effective, and they’re a lot prettier than installing bars on your windows to keep your kids in!
So if you’re a parent of a young child, WOCDs might be something to consider for your home—just one more little way you can gain some extra peace of mind (and maybe a whole minute to yourself!).
So…you want to be able to OPEN your windows???
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!
Using energy-efficient windows and insulation to curb summer energy bills.
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.
To read the complete article, and learn more energy-saving tips, visit http://www.ase.org/news/heat-%E2%80%93-energy-efficiency-can-curb-summer-energy-bills.
Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners.
I came across an interesting article online this morning -- the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority providing a number of tips to help families stop wasting energy and start saving money. That's important to all of us -- myself included -- so it caught my attention. The article included tips on everything from lighting to washers and dryers to water heating and usage -- some really good tips that I'd never considered.
Two items, in particular, caught my eye: First, "Heating and cooling accounts for 60 percent of your home’s energy use. To insure that your heating and cooling methods make the grade, examine how well your home is insulated." A great reminder of how important insulation is -- and how much money it can save on home energy costs. Summer is the perfect time to consider installing reflective insulation in attics to help cut energy costs and keep these spaces more comfortable.
The second tip I noticed was, "Use caulking and weather stripping to seal energy leaks around windows and doors, which could help you save up to 10 percent on your energy bill." So, if that's the case ... imagine how much savings could result from installing brand-new, much-more-efficient replacement windows!
This article just reinforced several of the points we often make on this blog, so I thought I'd share it. To read the complete article, and learn more energy-saving tips, visit http://www.wbng.com/news/state/NYSERDA-Offers-Energy-Efficiency-Tips-for-Homeowners-125567243.html.
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the. . . . .
Whenever I find myself totally confused with all the nonsense that is going on in the world, my mind drifts back to this poem that I learned back in High School. The wars, recession, budget deficits, unemployment and the haggling and wrangling in Washington, it can all get to be too much. This poem helps put the insanity back into perspective and takes me back to thinking about what is really important – home and family.
None of us can do much as an individual about the insanity, but we can take better care of our loved ones and our homes. My suggestion is to think back over the last year about what in or around your home caused you or your family the most discomfort or aggravation. I’ll bet a lot of you will say the old cold drafty windows that skyrocket your energy bills year round. Since high performance low emissivity glass wasn’t available until the 1990’s and then only very selectively, if your home is older than that, and you haven’t already replaced the windows, you should strongly consider it. The difference in appearance, comfort, reduced energy bills and maintenance will make it well worth it.
We can’t do much about all the extraneous stuff that drives us crazy and frightens us, but we can take care of our homes and families.
Laminated Glass Keeps Exterior Noise Out of Homes!
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.
Is the summer sun fading your furnishings?
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.
For more information on the FPF ratings for Gorell’s various high-performance glass systems, visit http://www.gorell.com/pages/glass_chart.htm.
High-Performing, Energy-Efficient Windows
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)
How to select hurricane windows 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.
To download Gorell Hurricane Buyer’s Guide, visit http://hurricane-window.com/downloads/gorell-hurricane-windows-guide.pdf.
Replacement windows—a good way to lower energy costs in warm weather, too!
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!
Can’t decide between Wood or Vinyl Windows?
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!
Making sure windows are safe and secure for young children.
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.
Fighting Higher Home Energy Costs
The national average price for gas is hovering right around $4/gallon, and it went up for 40 straight days! We certainly get an eye-opening experience when we fill our tanks up with gas. And some interesting, but probably not surprising, trends have developed.
First, smaller and more fuel-efficient automobiles are selling faster and better than they ever have. Chevrolet’s Cruze was one of the most popular automobiles sold in the month of April, and Ford’s Focus sales were up 22%.
What does this mean? It means we as a country are adjusting to the rising fuel costs and, for the most part, we are expecting these fuel prices to keep increasing. It also means that homeowners have to take the lead in helping manage these rising fuel prices.
Every one of us, as homeowners, need to think about energy conservation. Many of us think we can’t afford replacement windows or reflective insulation, But having new energy-efficient windows or reflective insulation installed is similar to purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle.
We all know fuel prices (in the very best near-term scenario) are just going to level out. To continue letting energy pour out of our homes can be compared to driving a vehicle that gets six miles/gallon. Some people can do it, but the majority of us just can’t.
So when we are struggling with the decision to upgrade the energy efficiency of our homes, realize that it isn’t just about investing in the value of our homes anymore. It’s also about making homes conserve energy—and two of the most proven ways to conserve energy are by upgrading to high-performance windows and reflective insulation.
Insulating to keep heat out?
Not sure what the weather has been like throughout other areas of the country, but here in Pennsylvania, it seems to have been an alternating mix of cool and warm weather – probably more cool weather than warm. No doubt, though, that the hot, humid weather of summer will be here within a month or so.
The reason I bring this up is this – if you have work or anything to do in the attic of your home, you may want to do it sooner than later because it won’t be long before that attic becomes too hot to be in. It takes just a cloudless day with the sun beating down on the roof. In fact, it can even be pleasant outside, but the sun can make your attic unbearable.
There’s a good way to keep that attic from becoming stifling hot – and that’s to have good reflective insulation installed in it. Of course, physically being in the attic isn’t the primary reason at all for keeping it cooler. The real reason lies beneath – the rooms in your home. A hot attic really does affect most of the house. Rooms become uncomfortably warm and the AC has to run constantly as it attempts to bring the temperature down. Now is the time to consider having good reflective insulation installed – before the summer weather really kicks in. A good web site to learn more about the benefits of reflective insulation is http://www.radiaflect.com/
How Homeowners Can Protect Their Homes from the Extreme Weather Patterns of 2011
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.
Earth Day—What is it and why is it important to you?
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.
State-supported finance programs are still available
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.
Window Safety Week Tips
This week the National Safety Council celebrated National Window Safety Week. This week serves as a reminder of the importance of year-round window safety and fall-prevention.
As spring arrives, we start opening our windows to let in some fresh air. So, this is the perfect time of the year to evaluate the safety of our homes as well.
Here are some simple window safety tips to consider.
Tip #1 - Make sure your windows aren't painted or nailed shut so you can get out in an emergency.
Tip #2: Keep furniture or anything children can climb on away from windows to lessen the chance of a fall.
Tip #3: Consider having softer bushes or extra mulch below your child's 2nd story bedroom window. It could save a life.
Tip #4: Insect screens keep out bugs, they don't prevent falls. If your window had ventilation limit latches, use them.
Tip #5: Don't install window A/C units in a child's bedroom. The window might be needed in case of an emergency.
What's New with Windows
Last year, President Obama made a comment about insulation saying it was ‘sexy.’ It was met with chuckles. The president was talking about making homes more energy efficient. But to take this to the next step, there has been much discussion on how we can make our homes more energy efficient.
But replacing windows or putting reflective insulation in your attic may not be viewed as exciting things to do - even if they are extremely effective in reducing energy consumption. Some of us also ask the question, is there anything new with vinyl replacement windows? What can really change with a window?
The answer to these questions are yes, there has been several advances with replacement windows, and these new advances have lead to new options.
For years, vinyl replacement windows were available in white and almond. With the technology advances that have been made over the years, virtually any color you can imagine is available on the exterior of your windows.
These advancements have also given vinyl replacement windows greater acceptance in the marketplace. Also, there are now various grid options and grid styles - not just the flat grids that had been available for years. You can now even order true simulated divided grids from various manufacturers.
Also, there have been several glass advancements. Instead of just double glass options, there are many different types of glass and glazing systems. You can get glass that protects your home from break ins or triple glass systems that are unbelievably energy efficient.
There are even more advancements in technology in the works. For example, there is a new glass system that will be coming on line in the next couple of years, where we as homeowners can control through a switch how much light we want to allow into our homes.
So, upgrades to our homes, which in the past have been viewed as vanilla, now are available with way more than 31 flavors...and growing!
The connection between National Window Safety Week and windows and doors
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.
How to identify quality windows
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.
Choosing strong windows -- and glass.
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!).
What Should We Do After An Energy Audit
I have been speaking with some new friends that completed a home energy audit. Because I am in a related energy efficient business, it was an easy ‘ice breaker’ topic for them to bring up.
I asked when they did their home energy audit. They explained that it had been about six or seven months prior. I was a little surprised that they had not taken any action with any of the items in the audit. In any event, we started discussing the things the audit recommended.
One of the easy audit recommendations was to caulk and reseal all the openings in their house. This could include the attic, around the garage, windows, doors, and even vents. This is a quick and simple thing to do, but when the energy audit company completed their analysis, there was no next step. As a result, they did nothing.
As I discussed with my new friends, you know all the things that need to be done to make your home more energy efficient, but you weren’t given any idea on what to do next. I gave them a few ideas. First, although caulking and resealing is an easy and inexpensive thing to do, it also needs to be done on an annual basis. Most people forget to maintain it. As a result, if this is the sole focus for making your home more energy efficient, it will be a losing proposition.
One item that does show up on the energy audit is windows and doors. And although there is more investment involved here, provided you select the right window, it should be more of a permanent solution. And many times, if you ask the energy audit company who they would recommend to do the work, they will not only give you the name of a trusted home improvement company, they have probably negotiated discounts for you as well.
So, if you are getting ready to do that energy audit, be prepared to do a few things. See if the energy audit company has qualified and pre-screened home improvement companies you can work with to implement parts of the energy audit. Also, in your mind, establish an ‘energy efficient’ budget for your home. This allows you to make some decisions on what parts of the energy audit you want to tackle first. And it will also help you follow through on your plan to make your home more energy efficient.
Do home improvements really pay for themselves?
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
Why do windows use gas inside the glass?
Gas filled Insulated glass
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.
Do home remodeling projects really add value to homes?
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.
Weather and Energy Consumption
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.
Understanding the new 2011 energy tax credits for replacement windows and doors.
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.
Don't become a remodeling horror story!
There's an interesting article about remodeling horror stories that originated on CNN Money. It's called "They Did What to That House?! Remodel Horror Stories" and it addresses homes that have been renovated in strange, and sometimes dangerous, ways—making it difficult and often near impossible to sell the homes later.
From dysfunctional floor plans to bedrooms without any closet space, some of the real-life home renovations discussed in this article really made me think. What were the homeowners thinking?
Some of the mistakes made seem to lack common sense, but—as a homeowner myself—I can understand the rationale, the thought process behind the decisions that led to a project that would later come back to haunt the homeowners.
Maybe the moral of the story is that it’s worth thinking through any remodeling work thoroughly before proceeding. Whether that means talking to a home improvement professional or just getting feedback from friends and family, homeowners should really understand the final consequences of a potential remodel.
Although window and door replacement isn’t mentioned in any of the horror stories, it, too, could easily be one. A homeowner might replace a rotted wood window with another wood window—only to have the same thing happen in a few short years. Or an old aluminum sliding door is replaced with another aluminum door, resulting in cold, drafty rooms and hefty energy bills.
Another good example is choosing replacement windows without an effective Low-E glass system—again resulting in high energy bills, which could have easily been avoided, both for the selling homeowner and the buyer.
The article is worth a read. To see it, visit: http://finance.yahoo.com/real-estate/article/111922/they-did-what-to-that-house-remodel-horror-stories
Is laminated glass better than tempered glass for home security?
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.
Constant Force Balancing—the Right Choice for Windows?
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 homeowners need to get their $1,500 Windows Tax Credit
Well, 2010 is over and, although we may not be too excited about it, many of us are preparing to file our federal tax returns. Homeowners who purchased highly energy-efficient windows to take advantage of the $1,500 federal tax credit for 2010 now need to gather the necessary documentation to get the tax credit.
Homeowners will need two types of documentation: 1) Receipts showing their 2010 purchase and installation of windows that meet the tax credit criteria, and 2) the window label showing the NFRC ratings (e.g., U-values and Solar Heat Gain Coefficients) – OR the Manufacturer’s certification statement that shows that the windows purchased are products that meet the criteria.
This may sound a little confusing, but it’s actually pretty straight-forward. Of course every homeowner should have his or her receipts. In regard to the second documentation item needed, some home improvement companies or window dealers provided the NFRC window labels to homeowners upon completion of the window installation. If not, and homeowners cannot get a replacement NFRC window label, they need the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement. This should be available from the window manufacturer.
Forward-thinking window manufacturers offer downloadable PDF files of the manufacturer’s certification statements on their web sites. Gorell provides a helpful overview of the tax credit program as well as the certification statement PDFs for homeowners at http://www.gorell.com/taxcredits. There are also PDFs on this web page that show homeowners which Gorell products meet the tax credit criteria and which do not. Fortunately, a very high percentage of Gorell windows do meet the criteria.
Some Manufacturer’s Certification Statements also include an area for the homeowner to write in information about the products, purchase and installation dates, the contractor or company that sold and/or installed the windows, etc. On Gorell’s forms, this is called Homeowner’s Records, and this section makes it easier for both the homeowner and the preparer in completing the federal tax returns.
Energy Wasters in Your Home
There’s an excellent article – called “Energy Wasters in Your Home” – that just appeared on Yahoo Finance on the Internet the other day. It was written by ENERGY STAR spokesperson Maria Vargas, who provides some very interesting data as well as excellent tips on how to reduce household energy consumption. She states that the average American household spends $2,200 on energy. That’s a lot of money!
Her good news, however, is that this amount can be cut by a third by doing some simple energy-saving things in the home. Like changing or cleaning furnace air filters, lowering the temperature on the water heater, using a programmable thermostat and switching to those new compact fluorescent light bulbs. There are a lot more tips in the article. Definitely worth taking a few minutes to read.
One thing the writer points out that many may find surprising is that heating and cooling costs typically account for 46% of a home’s electric bill. Heating and cooling are obviously areas that need to be addressed – and she does so in the article. The one thing she might have mentioned, however, is that one of the biggest “energy wasters” in the home happens to be inefficient windows. Nothing contributes more to that furnace running so often in cold weather than inefficient windows. The same goes for the AC running constantly in warm weather.
The $1,500 tax credit for purchasing highly efficient windows is about to end, but energy savings certainly won’t -- if homeowners take action and do something about their windows that are the cause for those high heating and cooling bills.
To see the article, “Energy Wasters in Your Home,” visit http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/111560/energy-wasters-in-your-home
Home improvement projects: Things to consider
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.
For additional tips and information please visit the following article from Yahoo Finance, "10 Things Your Contractor Won’t Tell You."
Professional Window and Door Installation vs Do-It-Yourself
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.
Cleaning Windows: 8 Clever Solutions
There's a very interesting article -- about cleaning windows -- that originated from Readers Digest Magazine. It's called "8 Clever Solutions for Cleaning Windows" and it addresses not just cleaning windows, but other items associated with windows -- like blinds, screens, shades and window sills. Some of the tips seem to be more just common sense, but I admit, they're ones I didn't think of. Windows becoming dirty again too soon after cleaning them? Tip #6 says to clean the furnace or AC filter -- that's likely the problem. Tip #4 is interesting -- to help keep your exterior window stay cleaner longer, apply a coating of floor wax. Tip #1 addresses the fundamental issue -- how to clean window glass and avoid streaking. In a way, this is common sense, too. What do window cleaning professionals use when they clean glass? A squeegee, of course. The tip is to "use a window-washing squeegee with a smooth, soft rubber edge." And it states not to clean glass in direct sunlight because quickly drying glass is more susceptible to streaking. The complete article -- including the other five "clever solutions"' can be found at http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/life/8-clever-solutions-for-cleaning-windows-2405885/
Keep The Chill Out: Winterizing Homes To Maximize Energy Efficiency
As Fall comes to a close and colder weather begins to invade northern states, many homeowners are rushing to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. While major improvements like installing a high-efficiency furnace or replacement windows will yield the highest savings, there are a number of smaller fixes homeowners can make that will help control monthly utility spending. Most of these small fixes can be made in a relatively short amount of time and are fairly inexpensive.
- 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.
- Use expandable foam insulation to seal gaps around exterior vents and pipes to prevent cold air infiltration.
- Add additional insulation to attics and exterior-facing walls to reduce heat loss. For easily accessible areas like attics, consider fiberglass or reflective insulation products; for un-insulated exterior walls, blown-in cellulose insulation can be used.
- Furnaces should be inspected and cleaned to ensure they are running at optimal performance levels.
- Reverse ceiling fans to push warm air down toward the floor for greater comfort. When looking up at the fan, it should be moving in a clockwise direction.
- Install heavier, wall-length curtains to reduce heat loss above and below windows when sunlight is not shining through them.
- Place shrinkable plastic sheeting over the interiors of windows. While this is not the most attractive solution, it is fairly easy to do and relatively inexpensive.
- 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.
How dark are windows with Low-E Glass?
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.
Window and Door Product Testing
Window and Door Product Testing
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 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.
What causes condensation on windows and doors
What causes condensation on windows and doors?
ALL windows, even the most energy-efficient, will experience condensation if the conditions are just right. For instance, if the indoor air has enough moisture, and if the window glass is cool enough (which depends on the outdoor temperature and the makeup and quality of the window). Some experts suggest this problem is seasonal. They may be correct. It’s not uncommon for windows to condensate during the change-of-season from summer to winter. As we keep our windows and doors closed due to the dropping temperatures outdoors, we are trapping all the moisture that the house has retained during the warmer seasons. It really is entirely possible that this problem will correct itself as the air becomes drier and winter sets in. But if you could lower your indoor relative humidity to 30%-35%, that would really help as well.
Try these tips to lower humidity in your home:
- Turn down or stop using humidifiers.
- Use range and bathroom exhaust fans while cooking and bathing, or open a window for a few minutes to bring in cool, dry air.
- Cook with pans covered. (This also saves on utility bills.)
- Take shorter showers with cooler water.
- Vent clothes dryers to the outside.
- In tightly insulated homes, consider installing an air-to-air heat exchanger.
- In summer, use a dehumidifier.
Please visit the Understanding Condensation section of our site to learn more.
New Tax Credit for Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors?
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.
Windows and doors that can keep your family—and home—safe and secure
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.
More ideas for making homes more intruder-resistant can be found on NCPC’s web site at http://www.ncpc.org/topics/home-and-neighborhood-safety . Or see Gorell’s “10 Window & Door Security Tips” at http://www.gorell.com/pages/gorell_mcgruff.htm .
A high Fade Protection Factor (FPF) can save you money.
Protect your floors, fabrics and furniture.
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.
Why add reflective insulation--especially now?
I installed a vent in my attic in August. That was an experience – I should’ve taken a thermometer up with me. It was unbelievably hot up there. Now that we've got cooler, less humid weather in Pennsylvania, being up in the attic is a lot more bearable. It fact, now's a good time to check your attic to see what insulation is up there – colder weather and heating bills aren’t far off.
While you're up there, think about adding reflective insulation. It's a very different kind of insulation (compared to blown-in or batt fiberglass) because it significantly reduces radiant heat transfer (fiberglass insulation only reduces convective and conductive heat transfer). In cold weather, reflective insulation placed over fiberglass insulation on your attic floor reflects heat escaping through the ceiling back into your home. If you have reflective insulation installed on your rafters, it reflects heat back into the home instead of allowing the heat to escape through the roof. Of course, it's really effective to have reflective insulation installed on both the rafters and the attic floor. Every home's different, but it's not uncommon to reduce home heating bill costs by 20% - 25%.
In spring and summer, the results are unbelievable, especially when you have reflective insulation installed on the rafters. With attic temperatures 30-40 degrees lower, you can only imagine the load this takes off your air conditioner!
One more thing: you don't want to procrastinate on adding good reflective insulation to your attic. It qualifies for the $1,500 federal tax credit (see www.radiaflect.com for more info) this year. One catch – it needs to be installed, not just purchased, before January 1st.
“Building” A Stronger America
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.
What is ENERGY STAR?
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
Using the Internet and Search Engines to Make Informed Buying Decisions for Home Improvement Projects
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!
Why replace a patio door?
I wonder how many people think about replacing patio doors in their homes. I remember several years back when we had to replace our wooden patio door -- which would have been around 10 years old at the time -- because the frame was rotted through at the bottom. I know other people who replaced their metal patio doors because the metal had corroded over time and the doors looked pretty bad. But there's another reason -- maybe a much more important one -- for replacing those doors: energy efficiency.
Think about the amount of glass in a patio door that's exposed to the outside. How many of us are familiar with the cold coming off that glass in the winter -- or the heat off the glass in the heat of the summer?
At this point in time, with the advances made in glass technology, it's possible to have a patio door that's so much more energy-efficient than doors made just 10 or 15 years ago. By "technology," I mean things like higher-performing low emissivity coatings in the glass, much more-effective spacer systems separating the glass panes, the use of inert gasses between the glass and even the evolution of triple-glass instead of double-pane glass.
Think also about the other materials that go into doors. Vinyl, especially, has proven to be a superb energy-efficient material -- and advances in vinyl technology have also been huge. Today a good, quality patio door made with vinyl can easily last decades -- and operate beautifully -- with practically no maintenance.
The results of having a solid, highly energy-efficient patio door installed are numerous. Significantly lower home energy bills for one, but also a more comfortable room and ease of operating the door.
Hopefully homeowners are also remembering that the $1,500 tax credit that's available for replacement windows also applies to doors. These last months of 2010 are an ideal time to look at a new door.
“Incentives and Rebates for Energy-Efficient Windows”
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.
Let’s Be Sensible About Home Improvement Lead-Safe Practices
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.
Many Want to Replace Windows, but are Banks Cooperating?
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.
Reflective Insulation – a tax credit opportunity not to be overlooked
In addition to qualifying replacement windows and doors, some reflective insulation products also qualify for the $1,500 federal tax credit program that ends this year. Most homeowners don’t even think about the effectiveness of insulation in their attics for a number of reasons. One is that most people just don’t think about their attics since they’re rarely “up there.” Out of sight, out of mind. Another is that consumers don’t realize there’s anything they can do other than replace all their attic insulation, which can be costly.
Yet, in reality, it's not unusual that 45% of a home's wasted — or lost — energy is through the attic, mostly through radiant transfer. Ordinary fiberglass insulation does little to stop radiant transfer. A good quality reflective insulation, however, can cut radiant transfer by as much as 97%. And this kind of insulation can actually be used in tandem with existing standard insulation. It goes up easily and quickly — and isn't expensive. Reflective insulation is definitely worth looking into. A good web site to learn more about how reflective insulation works and why it's worth considering is http://www.radiaflect.com
3 Reasons why not to wait to purchase replacement windows and doors for federal tax credit
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.
For a concise, easy-to-understand overview of the tax credit program, see http://www.replacementwindows.org/2010/06/accurate-tax-credit-information/
Energy Tax Credits for Replacement Windows Ending in 5 Months!
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!
Warranty Coverage on New Replacment Windows Can Make All The Difference
A window warranty is only as a good as the company that stands behind it. I have seen different versions of a lifetime warranty. Some really do mean lifetime, where other warranties pro-rate over time. It can be a complicated issue that we as homeowners have to figure out, many times on our own.
Here is a brief breakdown of the popular warranties that I have seen. First, here is a quick summary of some ‘name brand’ window companies’ warranties. These companies typically offer a 10 year warranty on parts, and a 20 year warranty on glass. Some of these companies offer a transferable warranty to a second homeowner, while others do not. And the vast majority, offer a product warranty, not a labor warranty. This simply means, homeowners would get the replacement product/parts for free but may be charged for labor in servicing the product.
Another popular warranty is one that is called a lifetime ‘pro-rated’ warranty. A pro-rated warranty may imply a liftetime warranty, but if we examine the fine print, we find out a few things. First, the warranty has a sliding cost scale on it. It may say that after 10 years, we as homeowners, are responsible for 50% of the cost of the product at the date it needs to be replaced. Costs always seem to go up, so it is difficult to get a handle on what our warranty costs may or may not be. It’s safe to say that it will be expensive.
With these types of warranties, we also may find that if we sell our house, the warranty either expires or pro-rates. This may have an effect on the resales value of our homes, which especially during this economic time, is critical.
As a homeowner, I suggest really examining a replacement window warranty before making a purchase. We should be looking for a warranty that offers a lifetime warranty that doesn’t pro-rate. Also, we should look for a warranty that is fully transferable and also doesn’t pro-rate. Obviously the former is great, because we don’t have to worry about the cost of products increasing over the years should something happen to our replacement windows. The later (fully transferable) part of the warranty is great because this helps us in resale value of the home. This type of warranty may initially cost us extra in the window purchase, but in the long run, it is of greater value because it will either save us money or make us money when we sell our homes. If we can find a warranty that also will cover labor, this would be gravy. But the majority of manufacturers don’t include labor in the warranties. But many times, the remodeling company we purchase the windows from, do include the labor.
I hope this helps you in your replacement window buying decision!
How will Home Star (Cash for Caulkers) benefit homeowners who purchase energy-efficient replacement windows and doors?
Many of us have heard about the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (or "Cash for Caulkers") program that was passed by the House of Representatives last month and is currently waiting to clear the Senate. It sounds as if this bill could be a win/win situation for homeowners and contractors--homeowners will get excellent rebates on "green" products which, in turn, should kick-start the construction industry and create jobs.
However, the bill itself is VERY comprehensive. There are 13 types of retrofit projects eligible for rebates, and each product has unique eligibility requirements and set rebate amounts--so it can be quite confusing for consumers. I recently read an excellent blog article that does a nice job of breaking down the eligible projects by type and giving a concise description of the requirements and rebates available for each. (http://tinyurl.com/2f3bhs8) Whether you’re a consumer or a contractor, this easy-to-understand chart will make it easier to clearly see what types of rebates the Home Star bill will provide.
And although I believe Home Star will be great--both for homeowners who want to make their homes "greener" and save money on energy costs, and for contractor still feeling the effects of the economic downturn--it’s important to remember that this bill could take weeks, or even months, to become a law. For homeowners who want to replace their windows or doors, add insulation, or make other energy-efficient improvements to their homes RIGHT NOW, there are still excellent federal tax credits available for 30% of the cost of qualified products--up to $1,500. For more information on the existing tax credits, visit http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.
Radiaflect Reflective Insulation, the Energy Efficient Alternative to Traditional Fiberglass Insulation
Replacement Windows are one of the best ways to lower your energy bills and significantly improve the comfort of your home. Another terrific product available is reflective insulation. Reflective insulation typically is Energy Star rated and qualifies for the tax credit.
Reflective insulation can be installed in the rafters of your attic to stop the heat from coming in on those hot summer days. This will reduce the amount of stress put on your air conditioning unit, and it will lower your energy bills. You may also want to consider putting a reflective insulation attic blanket on the floor of your attic. This type of product works great in the winter months, keeping your home protected against the winter elements.
Of course, you could always add more fiberglass insulation. But if there is a product that will be a compliment to fiberglass insulation, enhance the overall energy performance, and give you a much better ROI, reflective insulation is the product. Click here for a 60 second video on the comparison.
Whether it be for the rafters of your attic, the attic floor, house wrap or a hot water heater, make sure you look for a product that is a reflective insulation specific for your application. There are many products out there called radiant barriers. These products have a ‘one size fits all’ mentality. And although you might experience a temporary gain in comfort, over the medium and long term life of your house, reflective insulation is a much better performer. For more information on reflective insulation, go to www.radiaflect.com.
Better Screens = Better Benefits
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
Spring Cleaning for Windows and Doors
Tips to help ensure proper operation of windows and pation doors.
This past winter produced record snowfalls and cold temperatures for many parts of the U.S. The gradual thawing of built-up snow and ice may have exposed your home’s exterior, particularly your windows and doors, to damp conditions for a prolonged period of time. You may have also experienced cold drafts from some of your windows. This can be a sign of worn weather-stripping or deteriorated exterior caulking. Spring is a great time to inspect your existing windows and doors to ensure proper operation and resistance to air and moisture infiltration. Below is a quick checklist of things to look for:
- Inspect the caulking around the exterior of your windows/doors for cracks, breaks or separation. If sections are damaged or missing, it’s advisable to replace all the caulking in that area. Remove the old caulking, clean the surface area and apply a new bead of silicone caulking to create a good seal between the your windows (or doors) and your home’s exterior.
- If you have wood windows or patio doors, make sure the exterior wood is free of rot and is protected with paint or stain meant for exterior usage. Paint that’s chipping or peeling should be cleaned off and the surface repainted to prevent moisture penetration.
- Ensure your windows and doors are free of mold and mildew, which can be caused by prolonged exposure to damp conditions. Use cleaning products that won’t stain, scar or damage the materials used in the construction of your existing windows and doors.
- Clean the sills of windows and patio doors to remove built-up dirt and debris. This is particularly important for sliding patio doors to ensure problem-free operation.
- Check that window screens fit properly and are free of holes or tears. If you have a damaged screen, your local hardware store can help with replacing the existing screen with new screen material.
- Check that existing weather-stripping is plush and undamaged to minimize air infiltration. Replacement weather-stripping can be purchased at most hardware stores and is easy to install.
- If you have double-hung windows, make sure you can easily lift the sash and that it remains in place once opened. If the sash starts to drift back down or requires significant force to lift, a problem with the existing balance system may need to be addressed.
- Check that window/door hardware—like handles, cranks and locks—are operating properly and are not loose. If necessary, the manufacturer of your windows/doors should be able to provide replacement parts or instruct you on where to get them.