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Archive for June, 2010

How To Choose Replacement Windows for Your Home

Posted: Thursday, June 24th, 2010 | Filed under: Green shading, Greener living, Home cooling, sustainable living
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A guest post by Kathy Brock

Kathy Brock has been in the energy efficient windows business for over a decade and enjoys sharing tips with first time buyers. Her business, Superior Window Company, offers a variety of replacement window choices for any budget.

Shading systems for new windows

Shading systems for new windows

Replacement windows can help improve the appearance of your home, increase its curbside appeal and help protect it from the elements which can translate into substantial savings in your heating and cooling bills. Modern windows rely on a wide array of technologies to achieve a level of energy efficiency as high as five times that of traditional windows. Often terms like R-Value, U factor and Low-E mean little to the average consumer. Several things are important to consider when shopping for new windows.

Style and Installation

The three most prevalent types of residential windows are casement, double hung and sliding. Casement windows have the best efficiency and most sound sealing quality. In addition, casement windows give you unobstructed views top-to-bottom and side-to-side. They open fully – with a crank as opposed to sliding, allowing them to be engineered to fit snugly against the seal and prevent leaks. Double hung windows are the most traditional type – they consist of an upper and lower glass pane. Opening simply requires sliding the bottom portion of the window up. These windows often end up with a damaged seal over a period of time. They do not offer the same degree of insulation from winds and weather. A sliding window is similar to a double hung window. The only major difference is it slides open horizontally as opposed to up and down.

Before choosing a style of window, consult with local authorities about building codes. Many states have specific requirements for replacement windows in new or remodeled homes. Windows purchased from a local replacement windows company will likely be in compliance.

Ratings

Two primary ratings for windows help spell out the efficiency they will provide for your home. These are the R-Value and U-Factor. Understanding these values will help you make an informed decision about which replacement windows to choose.

R-Value is an overall rating of the energy efficiency of your windows as per the middle of the glass. The outer edges of the glass will have a lower rating. The R-Value lets you know how much heat loss the windows can prevent. The higher the rating, the better, especially important if you live in cold weather climates. The lowest rating you want to consider if you are building an energy efficient home is R-3. Remember, the higher you go, the more efficient the window, the greater the cost.

U-Factor is the second most important rating for a window provided you do not live in a cold climate. If you do, you will want to put equal weight on this rating as the window’s R-Value. This factor gauges how well a window prevents air leaks around the frame. A U-Factor of under 0.35 is considered to be energy efficient.

Low-E (Low Emissive) windows are among the most energy efficient windows. They feature two panes of glass with an inert gas between them to act as an insulator. This can be combined with a single-pane or double-pane window glazing to provide maximum insulation. The transparency of inert gas allows Low-E windows to be a great choice without sacrificing clarity when looking through the window.

Other Factors

Condensation prevention can be important to help keep the windows clean and free of mold. Installing windows featuring warm-air technology which keeps the air around the window closer to the interior protects against condensation.

UV penetration is an important factor if you live in a warm climate. Windows with a UV-blocking coating will prevent UV rays from fading your furniture and carpet.

Some energy companies offer rebates to individuals that purchase energy efficient windows. Be sure to check with local utility companies to see whether they are offering such incentives. You can typically receive rebates bringing the cost of an energy efficient window down to about the same as a traditional one.

Finding replacement windows does not have to be a headache or difficult process. Armed with the above information, you can make well-informed decisions about the quality of the windows you want purchase. Unless you are familiar with installing windows, it would be best to seek a professional for installation. All the ratings in the world won’t mean anything if the window is not installed and sealed correctly from the elements.

difference between blinds and shades

Posted: Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 | Filed under: Roller Shades, window blinds, window shading, window treatments
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Shades

Shades

Do you know the difference between window blinds and window shades? Many have no idea the difference, I talk to people daily about different shading options and often enough I’m asked if there is a difference between blinds and shades. There is a difference in the two shading systems and they both have their benefits to your home or business.

What exactly are window blinds and how will they benefit you? Blinds are made of slats that can stay closed tightly creating more privacy and keeping the sun’s rays out. The slats of blinds can open as well, still creating some privacy while letting natural light in your home. You can open or close your blinds slats at different angles letting the sun in without adding glare to televisions and computer screens or you can angle them so that the sun comes in. Blinds can open and close completely as well, in this instance the slats would come together tightly and you can enjoy more natural lighting in your environment or clean your windows with ease moving the blinds out of your way.

Blinds are however, becoming less and less desirable in today’s market for a couple of reasons. The first reason, which many of you are familiar with, is DUST. Blinds collect a tremendous amount of dust. So much so, that there are special “blind dusters” you need to buy to keep them clean on a weekly basis. There is also the issue of the blinds “stack” when fully raised or retracted. The stack always covers some portion of the glass, which is undesirable if you want to enjoy the full daylight opening of your windows.

Roller shades are a bit simpler and do have less options of use. However shades have no unsightly stack or any tendency to collect dust. Shades have greater insulation and heat reduction properties and are available in a huge number of fabric options. Many architects, designers, business and home owners alike have begun to lean towards roller shades instead of blinds for these very reasons. No matter what you chose for your environment, blinds or shades, there are many options available and both have their benefits for your home or work space.

What are Green window treatments?

Posted: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 | Filed under: Green shading, Greener living, Home cooling, sustainable living, window treatments
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Roller Shades

Roller Shades

Green window treatments (not the color green but eco-friendly green) come in many forms. Window treatments are inherently eco-friendly simply because of what they do to save on energy costs. Additionally many window treatments are now made from natural, biodegradable, recycled and other “green” materials. In keeping with today’s move towards earth friendly products, solar material manufacturers offer many Greenguard® certified fabrics. Essentially, using eco-friendly or Greenguard certified shading materials, not only saves on energy use; but knowing that you’re using green materials feels very rewarding.
As you can tell, there are many options in shading the home coupled with using green materials together. Adding eco-friendly window treatments for your windows will help save on the cost of energy use thus helping your finances and our planet. Doing so will also improve your home’s décor; adding beauty to the room. There are many choices in window treatments for you to help yourself and our climate today.

What can natural light do for you?

Posted: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 | Filed under: Home cooling, natural light, sunroom shades
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Sunroom Shades

Sunroom Shades

Natural light has many benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. People who live and work in a well lit environment are happier, healthier, and more productive. Natural light can make your living and working environment feel more spacious. More importantly, utilizing and managing daylight will save money on your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint. Natural light reduces eyestrain, increases attentiveness, concentration, has even shown to keep children calmer. Need I say more?

You should keep the numerous benefits of natural light in mind when remodeling your home; in order to incorporate appropriate shading options to better manage and control the thermal and lighting benefits provided (for free) by the sun. For example, if you added a sunroom to your home, you will certainly benefit from the heat generated by it from the sun in the cooler months. However, during the warmer months (especially the summer) you will likely double your cooling cost as the sunroom will generate a tremendous amount of unwanted heat. Here is where you will certainly need to hire a professional to install sunroom shades for you. Doing so will keep the room cooler on a summer day and warmer on a brisk winter evening making temperature in the sunroom easier to control throughout the year.

Don’t stop with sunroom shades, perhaps you have large windows, or a skylight. With the addition of a shade system, you will be able to control how much light or heat is generated. Think of your windows having functionality of an electric light with a dimmer control installed. That is what roller shades, folding shades, drapery systems, and other window coverings will do for your glass. What will you do to create more natural light in your home? What will you do to shade your home once you increased your natural light? Think the process through and create the perfect environment for your needs with the right daylight control option.

Using proper shading to reduce energy costs in your home

Posted: Friday, June 4th, 2010 | Filed under: Green shading, Home cooling, sustainable living
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If you use the proper shading for your home there are many benefits for you and your home both. A benefit of great importance is reducing energy cost for shading your home properly. The benefits of proper shading don’t just stop there; other benefits in shading your home include reducing energy use, lowering energy cost, less fading to your prized home furnishings, and your home will have an overall comfortable temperature. The benefits listed above should be enough to get you motivated to shading your home the right way and soon.

Looking into different shading concepts when it comes to landscape design will reduce energy cost in your home. Installing patio awnings over windows or shade trees reduces room temperature up to 15 degrees saves 25% on the need for an air conditioner’s use. Not only does installing an awning over your window or planting shade trees help with room temperature but it looks very nice with a great landscaped plan.

Patio awnings and shade trees are great but often aren’t enough in regards to saving on energy cost. There are other options that are better for the home in regards to reducing energy cost as a whole. Shade installation is best for this purpose. The best shades for this purpose are exterior shade screens, sunscreen shades, shade clothes, and solar shields which prevent sun from entering windows the most.

No matter which option you chose take note that exterior shades are more effective then interior shades. Exterior shades are more effective because they block the sun’s rays before it hits your windows. If using interior blinds or drapes it is best to use light color shades or drapes because dark colors are welcoming to the sun rays. Have a cool summer and remember to install the proper shades for your needs before it gets too hot.