Posts Tagged ‘windows’

Spring time! New Siding, New Windows, New Extreme Retrofit?

April 3, 2013

Winter is past and we are gearing up for round two of our exterior insulation Deep Energy Retrofit project in New York. there was a feature in the NEWS , check it out!


As the weather gets nicer, we often consider new siding and new windows, it also may be time to consider new insulation. Any time is a good time to improve R values and reduce air leaks. If going extreme is not what you are prepared to do with a full exterior retrofit, consider that if siding is being replaced it is a great time to blow in dense packed fiber insulation.

If you are in the Syracuse, NY area and want to know more about what we are doing call us!   315-474-6549  or check out our website



BAM! Home Performance on Steroids

February 26, 2013

If you could reduce your energy bills by more than 50% would you?  In Syracuse, New York, our office has been working on ways to excel at making your home more energy efficient.  Call it Home Performance on Steroids, an Extreme Energy Makeover or Deep Energy Retrofit, it is a new tool in our tool belt to increase comfort and save energy in your home.


As part of a research project for NYSERDA, GreenHomes America has been experimenting with “kicking it up a notch” as Emeril would say. Last summer in our top secret labs (we had to park a truck elsewhere) we spent some time fine tuning ways to improve homes above and beyond what we usually do.

The projects from this fall and early winter have gone great, and the Steroids metaphor sounds good but really, these results have been achieved with honest hard work, side effect free!  I will be talking more about these projects as well the benefits of Deep Energy Retrofits in future posts.   Stay tuned!




Energy Efficient Tax Credits For 2011 and 2012

March 20, 2012

It’s that time of year again, and although we have written about Energy Efficiency tax credits for 2011 before, if you had work done this past year, it might be time to review.  You can also go to our learning center for solutions to common problems we fix in homes just like yours, as well as links to our franchise locations; they can provide details about incentives available in their area.

Many of the federal tax credits ended in 2011, but not all of them.  What will continue for 2012, are credits for some renewable energy systems.  Solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, small wind systems, and geothermal heat pumps, are all eligible measures through 2016.  If you are thinking of alternatives, consider our interactive online home to get a better sense of whether or not these types of improvements are really what you need this year.

Alternative energy systems can be expensive, and it often makes the most sense to install them in homes that are very efficient from the start.  You might be surprised by what some simple measures can save you money.  Tax credit or not, insulation, air sealing and efficient heating and hot water systems can pay for themselves in short order.  Simple measures that cost less and save you more!



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!




Connecticut “House of the Year”–More Energy Efficient

November 28, 2011

One of the reasons GreenHomes has been staying so busy is that so many homes weren’t built well to begin with.  A splash of granite here, a whirlpool tub (that never gets used) there.  But no attention to the pesky details that really make a home comfortable and efficient in the long-term.  You know, those boring things we keep talking about like insulation & air-sealing, efficient heating & cooling, high performance windows, LED lighting, and so on.

From the NY Times, the Connecticut "House of the Year" is Greener

Eventually, a lot of people get frustrated with drafts, rooms that are too hot or too cold, mildew smells, ice-dams in the Northeast, stinky crawlspaces in the South, $800 air-conditioning bills in California, and so on.  So they call us to fix the problems.  And we can.  That’s good business for us, but it’s unfortunate for homeowners, especially in newer homes.  Forget the bamboo floors or the fiber cement siding.  If the house doesn’t work, it’s not green.  And you aren’t as likely to be as comfortable as you should be.

It’s much easier to make a home perform well by building it right the first time.  And less expensive, too!  It’s encouraging to see builders moving to more efficient practices, as mentioned in this story from Connecticut about the “House of the Year”.  Meanwhile, though, we’ve got a lot of houses to fix.  Most homes could use performance improvements.  And 70% of the homes that will be standing in 2050 are already built today.  Let’s change and start building all new homes the right way—and let’s fix the homes that we’re living in already.


Time Running Out for Home Energy Efficiency Tax Credit

October 13, 2011

We’ve provided the details on the federal home energy-efficiency tax credit a few times this year—for efficient furnaces, air-conditioners, windows, insulation, and the like. You’ve have access to the federal tax credit for existing homes for almost six years, in some form or another, including a bump up in the credit amount for two years as part of ARRA and then ratcheting back down this year.

But the time is running out. These federal credits disappear at the end of the year. To be eligible, qualified products must be “placed in service” (installed) by December 31, 2011. If you know you’re going to be doing something that qualifies, now is the time. I’m not betting that Congress will pull together and agree on much of anything, let alone pass something like an extension of this tax credit. So right now, it looks like before the end of the year, or kiss it goodbye.

Of course, if the time isn’t right for you, we always help our customers find any other incentives out there. Call us when you’re ready.

Thanks, Mike

The joys of nesting

September 6, 2011

Remodeling your home can give you insight into what has gone on all those years behind the walls.   Its also happens to be a great time to improve the energy efficency and comfort of your home. 

My ambitious sister in addition to being pregnant has decided to remodel their kitchen recently.  And why not, since future dad is a fabulous cabinet maker they plan to install some better ones that what the place came with. You know what they say about the cobbler and his children. 

I would consider this nesting in the extreme, but a recent visit gave me the opportunity not only to sleep on the floor, but better than x-ray or infrared vision I could see air leaks.  Well not really but this is a wall with holes to the attic for the wires.

 They were removing a wall and the new support is the bottom of the picture here.  But It shows what some will do to get a pipe into a wall.  The pipe was cut out since it was no longer needed but I don’t think it was necessary to cut the entire beam that to get a little pipe through  I think air can get through here as well….

 The space has a wonderful curved section of ceiling in every room.   Those are wires laying loose in the attic at the top of the picture. That means every wall leaks from any hole below like an outlet or switch or a connection to the floor below.  

Old windows? This is what is inside that’s a sash weight that counters the weight of the window as you open it.  Even though, replacing old windows won’t give you the biggest bang for the buck.  Tackle most of the air-leakage and increase the insulation in the walls and attics first. 

From an energy efficiency perspective it would be nice if things were this easy to see all the time.   But with the right people and tools it almost is.  GreenHomes America’s certified energy advisors have the experience and the skill to figure out what is going on without having to take the wall down.  My sister’s concern was a lack of insulation in the attic.  They thought they might top it up while they were fixing up the place.  It’s an excellent idea but not until some critical air sealing is tackled.  An energy advisor will investigate an attic when they can get to it, but they also “see” some of these flaws using nifty equipment such as an infrared camera or fans that help identfy a home’s leakage. 

I lent them a hand in putting in some of the cabinets while I was there to help them along and imagine they are close to done by now.  Maybe instead of baby blankets and a stroller I’ll give them a Comprehensive Energy Assessment.  I think I know a company that can help them out.

Keeping Cool

June 8, 2011

 There’s been a Heat wave across parts of the country, wild fires blazing and the season has just begun! So I thought it would be good to build on the tips Mike mentioned last week.  Here are a few things you can look at to keep your cool as we head into summer: 

  1. Keep the heat out!  During the day, if it’s cooler inside than outside, keep windows shut.  And keep window shades down to block out direct sunlight.  Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside than in.  Solar shades can help. 
  2. Ceiling fans (and other fans) help you stay comfortable—but only while you’re in the room.  The fan motors actually generate heat, so turn them off when you’re not there.
  3. Use a bath fan vented to the outside to remove the heat and moisture created by showering.  If you don’t have a bath fan, have one installed its useful for many reasons.
  4. Mike recently talked about keeping cool in the kitchen; use an exhaust fan to remove heat and moisture created by cooking.  This has the added benefit of removing pollutants, especially if you cook with gas.
  5. Use efficient lighting and appliances.  Incandescent and halogen lights actually use most of their energy creating heat instead of light.  Not only does this means you’re overpaying for lighting, but in the summer you’re creating a lot of unwanted heat in the rooms you’re trying to keep cool.  Compact florescent light bulbs are good LED’s are even better.  
  6. Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? If so, make sure to seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces.  As much as 30% of the air you cool can escape outside through leaky ducts.
  7. Insulate and air-seal your attic.  In the summer, temperatures in the attic often climb to more than 140o.    Proper insulation can keep this heat from conducting down into your home, but first…  Remember that your insulation only works if air isn’t moving through it.  Seal around chimneys, flues, plumbing penetrations, and recessed lighting, for example.   See our earlier post Insulate to Stay Cool .
  8. As we mentioned recently with a central air-conditioner it’s important to keep it tuned up—EPA and DOE recommending maintenance every year.   If it’s more than 10 years old, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for ENERGY STAR.  If you buying a window air-conditioner or dehumidifier, look for the ENERGY STAR, too. 
  9. Planting deciduous trees on the south and west sides of a house can help keep your home cool in the summer.  In many parts of the country, maples, oaks, and birches are good trees to consider.  Because they drop their leaves in the fall, they let sunlight through to help warm your house in the winter.  Landscaping is about more than looks! 
  10. New low-e windows with a low “solar heat gain coefficient” (SHGC) can block the heat from the sun but may be a costly measure if that’s the only reason you’re replacing them.

To really find the trouble spots in your home, and to be sure that they’re addressed properly, get a comprehensive home assessment.  GreenHomes America can provide this, and GreenHomes trained and certified crews can even install your improvements.

And remember that after a home is tightened up, combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters should be tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.  GreenHomes does this testing on every project it completes.

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.


Yes, Virginia, there is still a federal home energy tax credit

February 19, 2011

I mentioned this several weeks ago, but we’re still getting A LOT of questions on the 2011 energy-efficiency tax credit for things like furnaces, air-conditioners, insulation, and windows.  The credit is there, but there are many changes from the 2009-2010 credit.  See our tax credit summary for information about what qualifies.

[P.S. Don’t forget to claim your credit if you made eligible upgrades in 2010.  We’ve kept information on last year’s credit posted for your reference.]


%d bloggers like this: