Uncategorized

A Closer Look at Today’s Energy Efficient Windows

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Closer Look at Today’s Energy Efficient Windows

If you want to improve your home’s energy-efficiency – and save money – one of the most impactful changes you can make is to replace your windows. This is because older windows are often responsible for a great deal of unwanted heat transfer. In summer, inefficient windows can let excessive heat into your home; in winter, inefficient windows allow heat to escape.

Today’s high-efficiency windows are much better at managing heat transfer – reflecting away heat in the summer and trapping heat in the winter. When heat transfer is managed, you’re more comfortable – and less heating or air conditioning is required to keep you that way. And when your heating and air system gets a rest, your pocketbook does, too.

Let’s take a closer look at how energy-efficiency windows work – and how much money they can save you:

Energy-efficient windows, such as these from Richmond’s replacement window experts, feature advanced low-e (low-emissivity) glass coatings. These coatings are designed to emit low levels of heat, reflecting the sun’s infrared heat rays away rather than allow them to pass through. These low-e coatings are quite effective; while standard glass absorbs more than 80% of infrared rays, low-e glass absorbs a third. Despite their effect on infrared rays, low-e coatings won’t compromise your window’s view or the natural light that you love.

Modern windows also employ two or sometimes three panes. Each extra pane provides an extra buffer, adding a layer of insulation between your home’s interior and exterior. Gases such as argon or krypton are often injected between the panes; these gases are clear, non-toxic, and odorless. More importantly, argon and krypton conduct heat only half as well as regular air, providing a stronger barrier to heat transfer.

Even the spacers between the panes of glass play an important role in energy efficiency. Not so long ago, spacers were made of aluminum – a metal that conducts heat very easily. Instead of metal, the newest spacers are made of foam. Because foam can expand and contract without losing integrity, it offers longer-lasting seals. And because foam blocks heat transfer, it offers excellent insulation.

When glass coatings, extra panes, gas fills, and spacers work together, windows can be very efficient. This efficiency is most commonly measured along two metrics: U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (or SHGC). U-factor refers to the heat transferring quality of the glass; lower U-factors mean less heat transfer. SHGC reflects the amount of sunlight that penetrates into the house through the panes; lower SHGC values mean less light.

Windows with the right U-factor and SHGC values for the local climate can be certified by ENERGY STAR as being energy-efficient. In the Richmond area, we live in what’s called the North-Central Climate Zone – characterized by cold winters and hot summers. Here windows require a U-factor of 0.30 or less and an SHGC value of 0.40 or less qualify for ENERGY STAR certification.

So what can you expect if you replace old windows with new ones that have ENERGY STAR certification? In our South Atlantic region, we can expect to save about $450 per year when upgrading from single-pane glass and $59 per year when replacing double-pane glass. To learn more about your projected savings, visit ENERGY STAR.

Replacing your windows is an investment that provides excellent returns in comfort and energy savings. If you’re still living with single-pane or older double-pane windows, now would be a great time to consider an upgrade.

Read More

Keep Your Allergies in Check This Summer

Posted by on Jun 6, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Keep Your Allergies in Check This Summer

If your allergies are just as bad in the summer as they are in the spring or fall, you’re not alone. It simply means that you’re more sensitive to summertime allergy causes than most. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to alleviate summer allergy symptoms.

Let’s look at the causes, starting with grass. When grass is growing rapidly and displaying seed pods, then it’s pollinating. Grass tends to release pollen from mid-spring through early fall. The same can be said of weeds, although they tend to release pollen in earnest a few weeks after grass does. While they may lack the sheer volume of trees, grasses and weeds release pollen that can travel in the air for miles.

Dust mites are another common allergen. These microscopic creatures live inside the home, usually inside carpets, upholstery, pillows, and mattresses. They thrive in warmer temperatures, and in high humidity

Despite the abundance of pollen – and potentially dust mites – you don’t have to give into the idea of suffering from allergies. There are several practices you can follow to mitigate the effects of pollen and dust mites, both in and around your home. You can also mitigate their effects on you.

Start by keeping pollen out of your home. Keep your windows closed. If you’ve been outdoors for a few hours, change and wash your clothes after you re-enter your home. If you have pets, wash them more regularly to reduce the amount of pollen they bring into your home.

No matter what you do, some pollen will enter your home – but you can manage it. Start by using high-quality air-filters in the intakes for your heating and air system; be sure to change them regularly. Dust and vacuum regularly. Schedule a professional carpet and upholstery cleaning; Chem-Dry, for example, has cleaning processes that have been proven to be particularly effective to removing allergens from homes.

You can mitigate the effects of dust mites by keeping your household humidity low; dust mites can’t survive when humidity levels are kept under 50%. Wash your bed linens regularly. And, again, use high-quality air filters to pull dust out of the air.

You can also manage the pollen in your yard. Keep your lawn short, cutting grasses and weeds before they have a chance to produce seed pods. Keep weeds or other pollinators from proliferating in your yard by spraying them or pulling them out before they can bloom. If yard work makes your allergies worse, wear a mask designed to pull pollen from the air while you work.

Don’t forget to manage pollen’s effects on you when you’re not in your yard. Many over-the-counter anti-histamines and nasal sprays are effective when taken regularly. If these aren’t enough, an allergist may be able to prescribe additional remedies that can provide relief. Check the daily pollen count in your area. On a dry, windy summer’s day when the count is liable to be high, plan to minimize your time outdoors – and, again, keep your windows closed.

You can’t control pollen or dust mites, but smart practices can minimize their effects on you. If you’re suffering from itchy eyes, a runny nose, or incessant sneezing, do something about it.

Read More

Make Your Home Safer & Healthier with HEPA Filters

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Make Your Home Safer & Healthier with HEPA Filters

No matter how often you clean your home, your furnishings, or your carpet, they can each play host to a range of impurities. Some of these impurities are airborne. Others are trapped in your upholstery, carpet fibers, or other surfaces in your house. Some impurities, such as dust or pollen, can become airborne when there is some disturbance.

These impurities aren’t just unsightly – they can also cause allergies and induce asthma attacks. Furthermore, they can worsen conditions such as sinusitis. Since you don’t want to develop any of these respiratory conditions, it’s important you clean your home thoroughly on a regular basis. But simply cleaning more often isn’t the answer; you also need the right equipment.

Professional Cleanings

The best cleaning technicians have the ability to deep-clean carpets, rugs, and upholstery. They’re able to apply cleaning solutions more deeply and remove them more thoroughly than is possible with typical household equipment. When combining these processes with the use of sanitizers, expert cleaners like my preferred carpet cleaner in Tacoma, are able to remove the vast majority of impurities from both surface and air.

But we can’t rely on professionals to clean our carpets and upholstery all of the time. Effectively managing impurities requires us to deal with them in between visits from our local carpet cleaner. Vacuuming is a great start, but traditional vacuums aren’t quite up to the task.

Vacuuming with HEPA Filters

Along with air, vacuum cleaners inhale dust and other minute particles from the carpet, rugs, furnishings at other surfaces. This dirt- and allergen-filled air is passed through a filter before being released back into the room. These filters usually have tiny holes that trap most of the dirt while allowing air to pass through. Unfortunately, many types of impurities are also small enough to pass through a typical vacuum air filter.

In order to effectively capture the dust, allergens, and other impurities you vacuum, you need to employ a more efficient air filter. What you’ll want is a vacuum that uses a HEPA filter.

HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” HEPA filters are mechanical, employing a fine mesh that can trap tiny airborne particles. These filters are so efficient that they can trap tobacco smoke, pet dander, pollen, and dust mites along with other tiny air contaminants. The most efficient HEPA filters are even capable of dealing with military-level biological, chemical, and radiological particles.

According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a true HEPA air filter should be able to trap 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns thick, or thicker. To put this into perspective, the human hair has a thickness of 50 to 150 microns; true HEPA filters can trap particles up to 450 times smaller than the thickness of your hair. This level of efficiency ensures that HEPA filters can trap all the common allergens found at home.

Not even the best HEPA filter can capture every allergen at once. You’ll still want to to vacuum on a regular basis. But you can do so knowing that you’re doing something that is helping to keep you and your family safe.

Read More

Picking the Right Generator

Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Picking the Right Generator

In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to survive without access to electricity. Losing power on any given day – let alone several days – can be disastrous. It’s no wonder that more households are choosing to protect against power outages by purchasing and connecting both standby and portable generators. The choice isn’t always easy, however. Picking the right generator requires taking several factors into account:

Standby Generators

A standby generator automatically provides power in the event of an outage. These types of generators are permanently installed on your residence, usually in concrete, and are connected to the building’s electrical circuits. During a blackout, an automatic transfer switch will turn the generator on within seconds, bringing power back to your home. When the blackout is over, the transfer switch will shut the generator down again.

Backup Generators

Unlike standby generators, backup generators are not permanently installed and don’t work automatically. These portable generators must be started manually by the user after a blackout has occurred. Many households elect to plug devices directly into the generator; others prefer to connect the generator to the house’s electrical panel in order to power outlets as well as household systems.

Generators can be easily connected to an electrical panel by installing an interlock kit that functions like a manual transfer switch. While the interlock kit will not automatically engage or shut down power, it will isolate the household and utility systems to protect against unsafe overloads.

Selecting the Right One

The type of generator that will work best for you depends entirely on the needs of your family and your home or business. A portable generator may work best for small homes with few electrical needs or in an area where blackouts are not common. However, for those considering the more reliable (and larger and more expensive) standby generators, there are still a few more things to take into consideration.

Size & Strength

Different sizes of generators exist to suit different needs, and standby backup generators can be quite large. A large generator creates more power, making them ideal for homes with a lot of electrical needs. If you need to run your air conditioner during a blackout, for instance, you’ll need to purchase a stronger generator. You’ll need to know exactly how much power you require in order to select the right unit for you. Portable generators typically max out at 10,000-watt units, while standby generators can be as powerful as 30,000 watts.

Price

The vast difference in power also results in a vast difference in price. Portable generators are a far more economical choice with units ranging from $500 to $1500. On the other hand, standby generators carry a heftier price tag. The permanent generators start at a price of $5000 but can get as pricey as $15,000. In addition to that price tag, the units will need to be installed.

Picking the right generator for your family really comes down your specific needs. Some families may not be able to handle the cost of a permanent standby generator, while others wouldn’t be able to survive without it. When it comes to picking a backup generator, carefully weigh the pros against the cons.

Read More

When You Need Professional Carpet Stain Removal

Posted by on Mar 3, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on When You Need Professional Carpet Stain Removal

An important part of getting the most out of the carpets in your Scottsdale home is to make sure that they’re well cared for. This includes regular vacuuming as well as professional cleaning on occasion. It also includes effectively dealing with stains as they happen. Sometimes, small spots or stains can be removed with very little effort; however, many times, it is best to call in a professional in order to get the very best carpet cleaning possible.

Some stains can be removed without hiring a professional carpet cleaning company – if you act quickly. Take wine, for example. Immediately after a spill, blot up any wine that has not yet been absorbed. (It’s important to use a clean cloth or paper towels for blotting, as you certainly don’t want to transfer another stain or make the cleanup more difficult.) Gently blotting prior to applying a cleaning solution is a good course of action for most stains.

Home stain remedies can often bleach or discolor your carpet, but here’s a good recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid into a bowl containing 2 cups of warm water. Dip a clean cloth into the solution, then dab this solution on the stain. Blot the stain with a clean, dry cloth. Continue this process until the stain is removed, or until repeated blotting no longer pulls up any stain. No matter your success in removing the stain, keep in mind that the task would be been much more difficult if the wine had a chance to set.

It’s important to keep in mind that complete stain removal is often difficult to manage – especially with home remedies – even if you act quickly. Chances are, you’ll still see some residual stain. Does that mean you’ll have to live with the stain? It does mean that you’ll probably need to contact one of Scottsdale’s top carpet cleaners.

Carpet stain removal requires experience and expertise; it requires choosing the right solutions, taking into consideration the extent of the stain as well as the type of carpet you have. So if you call on a professional to handle stain removal, this will typically cost a little more than a standard shampooing. But keep in mind that professionals have solutions that aren’t available to the average homeowner; they’ll also know exactly how to best tackle the stain without causing additional damage.

Of course, wine isn’t the only substance that’s tough to remove. Other commonly troublesome stains include pet accidents, grass, coffee, oil, candy, blood, and dirt from your garden No matter how careful you are, stains are inevitable. Because fast action is necessary, it pays to have a number of a reliable carpet cleaner handy before you even need one.

Here’s one more tip: Once a professional cleaner arrives, it’s always a good idea to point out any trouble spots before the carpet cleaning starts. This way your technician will be able to pre-treat those stains prior to starting on the rest of your carpet.

Read More

Vinyl, Wood, Composite – Which Window Is Right for You?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Vinyl, Wood, Composite – Which Window Is Right for You?

When you’re choosing replacement windows for your home, it’s helpful to know which material will go best with your home. There are two types of windows that most people opt for. These are wood frame and vinyl. There are pros and cons for each type of window. Other than visually looking different, there are more differences between the two. The look of the windows on your home can make a big impact on the overall look. Both vinyl and wood windows greatly enhance any property. When making your decision, consider how the window will look in five to ten years and how much maintenance will be required.

Vinyl replacement windows are made from plastic or PVC. This is the definitely the most affordable option when it comes to windows. They won’t require the same long term maintenance that wood windows must have. If there is a budget involved in your window replacement adventure, PVC will help you stay within that budget. The insulation on this type of window is excellent and you will not be disappointed. You’ll be even happier once you look at your energy bill. PVC is no doubt very strong, but if strength is of the utmost importance to you, you may want wood windows.

On average, vinyl replacement windows last about a couple of decades. The color of the vinyl is permanent, so keep that in mind if you choose this option. Painting over vinyl windows may produce a less than satisfactory result. Vinyl or PVC windows rose to popularity in the 70’s because of its cost effectiveness. This type of window is easy to take care of. Simply wipe down and lubricate every so often to maintain it. If it’s too difficult to decide between the two, you can get the best of both worlds by choosing a PVC window that has an outer layer that makes it look like wood. It’s very difficult to tell the difference at first blush.

Wood replacement windows are typically made of pine or Douglas fir. Then an outer layer is added, which is either aluminum, fiberglass or PVC. The finish of the wood is the greatest factor of how the windows will look in the end. As you may know, there are a wide number of different finishes available for wood. The stains range in color from cherry to walnut and more. Of course, with painted wood, you can get pretty much any color your desire. However, paint chips and it is inevitable that you will have to have the windows re-painted at some point. Like the look of natural wood grain? You can also choose to keep it natural. The wood grain is still visible if you choose to add a stain. Wood windows require maintenance and you should keep that in mind before installation. Wood can decay, warp, and develop holes. All of these negative effects can be prevented with simple, regular maintenance.

Composite replacement windows are another option – one that combines several of the best qualities of wood and vinyl. Renewal by Andersen, for example, crafts windows out of a material called Fibrex; this material combines wood fibers with PVC. This yields a material that is strong, like wood, and maintenance-free, like vinyl. Renewal by Andersen replacement windows with Fibrex have another advantage over vinyl: They come in a wide range of colors, including dark tones that are not available in vinyl.

Each of these window types have energy efficiency and sound reduction qualities. Regarding the aesthetic of the windows, it really comes down to personal choice. For wood, there are a number of different species to choose from and even more options when it comes to staining. To ensure wood windows stay waterproof, prepare to re-caulk the window trim/wall joint area. Wood windows require more time to be manufactured. Choosing between vinyl, wood, or composite windows can be tricky, but ultimately you should let your personal style make the decision.

Read More