How To Achieve Energy Efficient Homes

open window with countryside viewOne of the many things that homeowners strive for is to have an energy efficient home.  Achieving energy efficient status has benefits for both the environment and the bank account, and it is doable if you follow some specific tips.

Keep Your Furnace Clean

Your furnace is one of the main points of interest when it comes to your home’s energy efficiency.  When it is running at peak efficiency it uses less energy to do the same job, and costs less to run.

It’s wise to replace your furnace filter every couple months or when it gets dirty, to maximize airflow and let it run more efficiently.  It’s also a good idea to stay in a regular maintenance schedule and upgrade if you have an older model.

Turn It Down

Another tip for energy efficiency is to lower your thermostat during times no one is home or everyone in the house is sleeping.  You can try a programmable thermostat or manually turn it down 4 to 5 degrees Celsius at night or when everyone is out.  Many health experts state that sleeping in a slightly cooler environment is preferable, anyway.

Go Cold

One easy adjustment you can make to become more energy efficient is to do your laundry in cold water instead of hot water.  Almost all of the energy used to do laundry is used to heat the water, so if you use cold water, you’ll save a lot of it.  Also, only do full loads to save even more, and choose a front-loading washer if possible. 

Windows and Doors

Any homeowner that pays attention knows that a lot of energy in the form of heat or cool air is lost through windows and doors.  Installing energy efficient windows and doors is a great way to keep that energy on the inside where it belongs so you can stop ‘heating or cooling the neighbourhood’.

If you aren’t in the position to install new windows and doors, you can modify the ones you have with things like weather stripping, sealant or caulking and plastic window coverings.  If possible, open up drapes and blinds to let the sun in during the day for some natural heat, and close them up at night.  Try your best not to let the windows and doors in your home waste too much energy and raise your energy costs.

Investing in Windows and Doors That Prevent Condensation

Condensation happens when the temperature of an external glass surface on windows or doors is lower than the dew point (temperature where water vapors begin to liquefy) in the outside air which is 65 to 75 degrees in Southern regions. Winter condensation occurs Imagewhen the inside surface of the glass is cooler than the dew point temperature within the home.

*The region you live in.
*The number and types of glass units in the home.
*The type of double glazing system on the glass units.

As a result, it may be challenging to tackle condensation due to these factors within different homes. Three product options to eliminate condensation is Argon-gas-filled units, warm edge technology and Low-E glass.

Argon Gas
In order to stabilize air flow between the panes of glass units, a gas must be used that is slow-moving, less penetrable, and reduces heat transfer between the inside and outside. The overall performance of Argon gas meets these needs. Once this gas is installed and sealed into a window, it is denser than regular air, and has an optimal spacing of about 11-13mm or 1/2 inch.

Warm Edge Technology
The biggest downside of Argon-filled glass units is that they perform better in colder parts of the country than they do in warmer regions. Warm edge products are designed to reduce condensation as well as energy loss for homeowners. “Warm edge” refers to the construction materials on the edge of a double glazed unit that transfers less heat or cold than conventional construction double glazed units or standard aluminum spacers in windows.

Many homeowners are unaware that condensation and energy loss are related, and up to 80% of energy is lost via the glass’ edge. Double glazed windows fitted with warm edge spacer tube can help reduce condensation on your sealed glass unit by up to 70%. Warm edge also significantly reduces the difference in temperature between the edge and center of the glass unit and up to a 94% reduced thermal loss at the external edge. The most innovative warm edge spacers can contract and expand due to fluctuating temperatures without losing its original structure.

Low-E Glass
Low-E glass is designed to absorb radiant heat (IR light). There are various grades or types of Low E glass: pyrolytic, sputtered, soft-coat, hard-coat and solar selective. The performance of Low E film also depends on how it is positioned in the glass unit.

A Low-E coating on a glass unit has a tendency to warm the inside surface in the winter, and the external surface from the sunlight in summertime. It will also reduce the external surface temperature at night. Although their is increased potential of more condensation forming in the summertime due to the Low-E film, it is still a good product overall to prevent condensation, UV damage, and reduce energy loss overall. As an extra incentive, homeowners purchasing Low-E glass units are also eligible for energy rebates.

How to Choose the Color of Your Windows and Doors

Autumn Color by the WindowWhether you’re having a home custom built, or just think it’s time to update the windows and doors of your existing home, the colors you choose are an important factor.  The color of your doors and windows isn’t going to affect the quality, but they will affect the overall look of the home and the perception of anyone who sees it.

There are many different choices when it comes to the color of your windows and doors, so it’s wise to follow some guidelines if you aren’t sure.

Ask for Help

This might be the most important tip you can follow.  Not many regular homeowners are also experts when it comes to home design.  Windows and doors represent a fairly large expense for most people, so if you aren’t sure ask for help.

The company you are purchasing the doors and windows from may offer help, and if not you can ask an independent designer.

Look Around the Neighborhood

Everyone wants to be an individual, but you also don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb amongst your neighbors.  Take a look around the neighborhood at the common theme and tone, and try to stay within those parameters, at least with the exterior colors.  That’s not to say you should copy everyone exactly, just keep it in mind as you make a decision.

Looking around your general area will also give you ideas of what works and what doesn’t.  You can probably see a pretty wide sampling just by driving around a little.  This way, you can eliminate certain combinations without having to try them out on your own house first.  Try looking in both the sunlight and dark for the most accurate representation of the colors.

Ask If They Customize

If you can’t seem to find the exact color you’re looking for as you look through the selections from the manufacturer, ask if they will customize one for you.  Sometimes, window and door manufacturers will try to create a color that matches what you want, even if they don’t have that exact color in stock.

Choosing the color for your windows and doors is often a time consuming process, but considering everyone who passes your house will see them; it’s well worth the effort.  The color of your front door and window frames gives your home a lot of its character, and may even create a perception about you.  

How to Choose a Functional and Stylish Exterior Door For Your Home

If you are tired of your plain and boring exterior door, it is time to find something new that will change the outward appearance of your home. With so many different doors on the market today, choosing an exterior door can be a very daunting and time-consuming task. You have to consider many different factors when you are comparing all of the various designs and applications that are available today. As you know, the right windows and doors provide security and can also increase the value of your home. Here are some tips on how to find the right exterior door for your residence that will look great without compromising your home security.

Which Material is Best?

The three most common materials used to make exterior doors are steel, fiberglass, and wood. Before you start comparing styles, you need to settle on which material is best. Each material has its pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of each material so that you can make an informed decision:

Steel

If you are looking for the strongest barrier, a steel door may be the way to go. While these doors are very strong, if you live in an area where rain and snow is common, you have to consider the fact that you will have to replace your door within 5 to 7 years. If this is not a problem for you, steel doors come in several different styles that are contemporary or traditional in design. As far as costs go, steel doors can be affordable but will cost a pretty penny to repair when damaged or dented.

Wood

Wood is the most common material used to construct exterior doors. When you choose a solid wood door, it can be extremely expensive. In fact, wood doors can cost between 3 and 5 times more than a steel door. One of the main reasons why wood is such a great choice is because it can be handcrafted and unique. Wood is easiest to work with and this means that it is easiest to customize.

Wood doors do require a lot of maintenance over time. There may be scratches, warping, and paint fading you will have to deal with. With this being said, maintenance does not cost as much as it would with a steel door.

Fiberglass

If you go with fiberglass, you will be able to choose from a wide variety of different styles that will blend with the exterior design of your home. Fiberglass doors are the closest to maintenance-free and are ideal for homeowners who want to reduce their upkeep. It also does not expand or contract in adverse weather conditions, making fiberglass a great choice for longevity. Priced between inexpensive steel doors and expensive wood doors, fiberglass is great for those with a strict budget.

If you take time to choose the right replacement windows and doors, you can reduce your energy bills, increase your home security, and raise the value of your home with a single investment. Compare all of the styles available and keep in mind that the right exterior door goes beyond just looks.

Design Tips for Choosing New Windows and Doors

If you are thinking about home renovation, installing new windows and doors is one of the quickest ways to update the look of your home while adding new and improved functional features. Older homes with original features offer authenticity, but over time those original features wear out and don’t function properly. Here are a few design tips to consider when renovating.

Style of The House

When looking at new windows and doors, consider the style of your house. Since these features are visible from the outside, it’s important that they coordinate to the style and look of the house. For instance, if your home is an English traditional, windows with smaller panes will look more authentic than windows with large spans of glass. If your home is contemporary or modern, large spans of glass with few panes will look better. Old craftsmen style homes were typically built using windows with mostly vertical mullions and panes, rather than vertical and horizontal. If you keep the building features   closely related to the style of architecture, upgrades won’t look like add-on features.

Lines and Shapes on The House

All houses have specific architectural elements that distinguish their style. For example:

Traditional styles – little ornamentation, simple roof lines, symmetrically spaced windows
French styles – moldings, pitched roof lines, curved top windows
Craftsman styles – porches, pitched roof lines, vertical paned and dormer windows
Spanish styles –  curves, arches, flat tiled roof lines, arched doors and windows
Modern styles – square or rectangular roof lines, doors and windows, no panes in glass

If you are adding new windows and doors to your house, it’s important to repeat the lines that are existing on the house. For instance, if you have a beautiful Spanish house with arched doorways and windows, repeat that shape. Don’t add new elements that are square or rectangular.

Types of Windows

Windows are functional elements that serve a useful purpose. Choose new styles based on your needs for function. There are two types of windows – fixed and movable. Fixed windows do not open, while movable ones do. There are various styles and types of movable windows:

  • single hung windows – open from the bottom up
  • double hung windows – open from the bottom up and from the top down
  • sliding windows – slide open either vertically or horizontally
  • casement windows – hinged at one side and open by swinging in or out
  • awning windows – resemble casement windows, but hinged at the top or bottom
  • jalousie windows – resemble awning windows, but with narrow strips of glass

Decide on the type of window that serves your needs best. The types may vary in different parts of the house, but keep the overall style the same and make sure it’s functional for the area.

Types of Doors

Doors, like windows, are functional elements that serve a useful purpose. Most doors fall into two categories – hollow core and solid core. Interior doors that divide rooms inside the house are typically hollow core doors, meaning they have a hollow center and are lighter weight. Hollow core doors come in paint or stain grade materials and can easily be painted or stained. Exterior doors are typically solid core doors, meaning they are a solid material from front to back. It helps if exterior doors are solid for security reasons. There are many beautiful exterior doors that are part or all glass, however they won’t provide the same level of security for your home. In today’s market, there are many great door styles, shapes and materials to choose from, so whatever you choose make sure you follow the style, lines and shapes of the house and make sure it’s the best functional choice for the area.