Archive for the ‘Windows and Doors’ Category

In home electric monitoring, Real Time Data and Age Old Adages

May 24, 2012

By U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

NYT reported last month that although there are some early adopters of monitors of electric use in our homes, it is predicted that more than half will have them in the next ten years.    Notable in the Times article is a quote from Dan Yates, CEO of Opower: “Simply making energy usage visible can have an impact”.   I can believe that; after all, “knowledge is power”, right?

Blending physics, and metaphor, with this age old adage (I can’t resist throwing in some physics), power implies transformation.  It is a function of using energy to do work.  My point is that energy monitors aren’t worth squat unless we change our behavior based on what they tell us.  In fact, since you plug them in, they use electricity, they don’t save it.

Local utilities are offering energy data with things like the green button which we’ve written about in the past. Changing light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs can make a big impact with electric loads.  When you use electricity—for A/C or to heat water for example—more efficient systems can make a difference; and so can improving the home in other ways.   The gains in insulating and air sealing, proper shading, and good windows can really make an impact on your energy usage as well as your comfort.

I wonder if the adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is relevant?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to keep an eye on your electrical usage, but don’t get caught watching and not acting. Or maybe, “a fool and his money will soon part” fits too.

Thanks,

Jason

Leaving the Door Open – I Cry Fowl!

April 6, 2012

GHAOne of our top advisors a few years back had a unique experience on an assessment visit.  Leaving the doors open to his vehicle, he unknowingly acquired some unwanted guests.  It made me think about our homes and another unwanted “guest”: uncontrolled airflow via attics and elsewhere in the home.  (A great resource if you haven’t seen it already can be found in our learning center)

When we test airflow in homes we use cubic feet per minute as a unit of measurement.  Ideally this can help people visualize how much air moves through your walls ceilings and floors.  The large fan we place in the doorway of the home measures this flow and allows us to compare the amount of leakage in your home to others of similar size. Many of us don’t often think in terms of cubic feet, but you know, I’d guess it’s about the same as a good sized chicken.

You would be surprised by the amount of leakage in the average home when you can’t see the holes.  They are hidden behind walls and floors, connections in the ceiling.  In places we don’t really think about.  Every chicken’s worth of air that moves uncontrolled in or out of your home costs, not only in terms of money, but also comfort.  There could be GHAhundreds of them entering or leaving your house every hour.  Not sealing those leaks is like leaving the door open all year long.

Keep the chickens where they belong.  Close the doors.

Thanks,

Jason

Photos courtesy of John Scipione Branch Manager, Syracuse NY.

If windows save you 50% on energy costs, install twice as many and stop paying utility bills all together!

February 28, 2012

Ok, that’s quite a wild claim and one clearly not possibleBut the Washington post  last  week reported that “Replacement-window firms agree to settlement with Federal Trade Commission”.  The problem has been the “’exaggerated and unsupported’ claims about their products’ energy efficiency”.  Yes indeed.  Don’t get me wrong, we like windows, and in many locations across the country we replace them too.   But you won’t hear us say they will save you 50% on your energy bill!

Right here we’ve talked about windows many times in the past. Windows are often replaced because the existing  ones are broken, inoperable or for aesthetic reasons. As far as energy efficiency is concerned, however, at GreenHomes America it has always been our position to improve insulation and air sealing first, then take a look at heating, cooling, duct and hot water systems next.  These are the common problems found in most people’s homes. Window replacement will save energy, but the energy savings will be modest. So remember, if you hear outlandish energy savings claims about replacement windows that  sound too good to be true…  it probably is!

Thanks,

Jason

 

A few thoughts on replacement windows

September 18, 2011

The folks at Replacement Windows for Dummies (.com) recently asked me a few questions about replacement windows–check out the article

Mike Rogers of GreenHomes interviewed by ReplacementWindowsforDummies.com

As those of you who’ve spoken with our Advisors or seen the replacement window video know, we like windows.  New windows can increase comfort, reduce drafts, reduce UV fading, and more.  They are NOT a miracule energy-saver, though.  If it’s energy savings you’re after, don’t get sucked into the hype.  Get a good home energy assessment and find out what you really need. 

Thanks,
Mike

Stop the Noise (there is a way to a quieter home)

March 5, 2011

This week, Jason raised an important—and very unfortunate—point about many newly constructed homes and how they just don’t perform the way they should (See “Why does my new home have such high energy bills?”).  I know he’ll be diving into this topic more deeply, but let me point out a situation we run into recently in some newer housing developments.  Even though these were high-end homes, the builder used inferior windows—simple dual pane, and didn’t pay as much attention to air-sealing as we’d have liked while the house was under construction and it was easy to address.  In the tightly packed neighborhood, this results in a lot of noise from outside making its way inside.

While there are solutions to this that involve interior storm windows, we’ve found most people don’t like the aesthetics or the need to open and shut (and clean) two sets of windows.  And to enjoy peace and quiet, we’ve had several customers invest in brand new replacements windows.   This isn’t a cheap fix—but it delivers great results.  We take out the inferior windows, frame and all, back to Serious Windows fiberglass windowthe studs.  And rebuild with high quality windows that not only do a great job reducing sound transmission, but also improve comfort (you don’t bake sitting next to the windows in the summer nor freeze next to them in the winter), add UV resistance to protect your furniture, and save energy.  During the installation, we also improve the air-sealing around the window frame for further noise, comfort, and energy benefits. (BTW—we see very similar impacts when retrofits walls with improved insulation and air-sealing—quiet, comfortable, and lower energy bills.)

Our customers love it!  The sad thing is, this could have easily been accomplished while the home was being built.  But at least there’s a way out.  If you’re thinking about buying a new home, follow Jason’s musings over the coming weeks.

And if you’re dealing with a noisy home, we likely have a fix for you.

Thanks,
Mike

February is…replacement window season?

February 9, 2011
OK, the snow is piled up outside.  And the temperatures are low enough to frost your eyebrows.

Take a look at your windows.  Are they in rough shape?  Have you had a lot of condensation or frost on them this winter?  Do they feel cold?  Is the paint peeling?  Can open/close windows or storms? Do you simply feel uncomfortable when you’re around the windows?  You might be a candidate for replacement windows.

While many people wait until spring to start thinking about new windows, we actually install them all winter long.  And our customers barely notice we’re there during the project.  [True, we don’t like to do it during a blizzard!]  And we can certainly schedule around your needs.  But with order lead times, and the traditional Spring rush on the way, there’s no need to wait.

And replacing your windows can have a lot of benefits.  Newer windows can boost comfort, reduce maintenance hassle and expense, address lead paint issues, reduce fading of upholstery and carpets, eliminate the need for swapping storm windows and screens twice a year, and the list goes on.  And if you’re replacing you’re windows for any reason, choosing the right energy-efficient window AND installing them properly will help you save energy, too!   Choose the right window–and ENERGY STAR qualification is the minimum standard you should consider–generally windows that significantly exceed ENERGY STAR are readily available (including those that qualify for federal tax credits and state and local incentives) and make a lot of sense.

Note that regarding energy-efficiency, replacing windows is often one of the first things that comes to mind.  The reality is that replacement windows by themselves are often one of the least cost-effective things you can do to save energy–and “payback” can be 20-30 years or more.  Insulation, air-sealing, duct-sealing and lighting usually provide a lot more bang for the buck.  Most window installers probably won’t give you the real story on that!


Replacement windows can make a lot of sense.  They have a host of benefits.  Just make sure you chose the right windows for the right reasons.  And go ahead and save some energy while you’re at it.

Happy Customers–one of the reasons I love my job

November 9, 2010

A home performance approach allows us to really figure out what’s going on in a house.  This in turn let’s us provide real solutions that actually address people’s problems in their current homes.  The result is better, safer, and more energy-efficient homes.  And happy customers.  This is something we at GreenHomes are proud of and work very hard at to make sure it happens time and time again.  Thanks to the Murphy’s for sharing their story.

Thanks,
Mike

Windows, Energy Audits, and Carbon Monoxide

June 14, 2010

Here are a few from the archives in response to some recent questions:

Thanks,
Mike

Window Season is Here

March 7, 2010

As Spring approaches, people start thinking about new windows.  [Actually, replacing windows is possible along winter long without much disruption.]

replacement windows video
Visit the GreenHomes library for videos on replacement windows and other energy-efficiency topics.

Replacing your windows can have a lot of benefits.  Newer windows can boost comfort, reduce maintenance hassle and expense, address lead paint issues, reduce fading of upholstery and carpets, eliminate the need for swapping storm windows and screens twice a year, and the list goes on.  And if you’re replacing you’re windows for any reason, choosing the right energy-efficient window AND installing them properly will help you save energy, too!   Choose the right window–and ENERGY STAR qualification is the minimum standard you should consider–generally windows that significantly exceed ENERGY STAR are readily available (including those that qualify for tax credits) and make a lot of sense.

Note that regarding energy-efficiency, replacing windows is often one of the first things that comes to mind.  The reality is that replacement windows by themselves are using one of the least cost-effective things you can do to save energy–and “payback” can be 20-30 years or more.  Insulation, air-sealing, duct-sealing and lighting usually provide a lot more bang for the buck.  Most window installers probably won’t give you the real story on that!

Replacement windows can make a lot of sense.  They have a host of benefits.  Just make sure you chose the right windows for the right windows.  And go ahead and save some energy while you’re at it.

Gas leaks (and combustion safety)

August 17, 2009

Just an example from Sharon T., a customer in Central New York on why we test every home for gas leaks and combustion safety issues.

I called [National Grid] immediately and someone was here within 20 minutes.  There was a leak and the man said “whoever the fella was that found the leak had it pinpointed perfectly”….   They had the leak repaired (put in a new connection) and were on their way in no time.

 I thank you for taking the time to check for leaks. 

Note, Sharon is a window customer.  Most window contractors would NOT test for gas leaks and combustion safety issues.  We believe it is very important, whether you’re getting heating or cooling equipment, windows, insulation & air-sealing, or about any other significant change to your home.  If your contractor won’t do it, find someone who will.

Last week in NJ as part of an inital home assessment, we found a backdrafting water heater, with melted pipe insulation and plastic fittings on the top of the heater.  And this unit had just been installed (not by us!) in November.  We find things like this in 20-25% of the homes we visit.  And the homes and the people who live in them are at risk.

Please do get this stuff checked!

Thanks,
Mike


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