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Update Your Home While Preserving Its History

By Gates Dearen

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If you live in an older home, chances are your windows are not especially energy-efficient. Is it possible to update your windows without changing the historic appearance of your house? Yes!

When Matt and Karen Carlucci of historic San Marco in Jacksonville, Florida decided to install new windows, they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to keep the traditional look of their older home. Historical preservation provides a visual, tangible link to a city’s past, one that is kept up by the voluntary efforts of homeowners within communities that have been designated as historic districts. By working closely with the experts, the Carlucci's I found many options that not only preserved the historic style they were looking for, but also offered ease of opening and closing, improved heat/cold retention, and lower maintenance efforts.

Video Testimonial from Matt and Karen Carlucci
Matt and Karen’s house had windows with wooden frames, common in older homes. Matt wasn’t sure he and his wife could replace the windows without making the house look more modern, and that was a real concern since, as he puts it, “We have a contributing historical structure in our neighborhood.” Now that he and Karen have replaced their windows, he couldn’t be happier. “We have had some comments [about the improved appearance of the house], but nobody can tell they’re different from the windows we had before, which is what I like because we wanted the windows to have that old historic look.” Whether you are replacing traditional rectangular windows or require custom designs, window specialists can help you find the best products for your specific needs.

Old windows tend to be heavy and “clunky”. Glass was heavier in the time period when many older homes were built, and wood frames are also bulky and can swell and shrink with fluctuations in temperature. If you’ve ever struggled to open a heavy or stuck window, you’ll be thrilled with the easy glide of new windows. As Karen says, “The [original] windows in our home were very heavy, because they were old and wood, and these [new] windows, you literally can raise them with two fingers and lower them.” Over the years, glass technology, like other technologies, has improved, providing greater insulating factors in lighter-weight panes. This combination gives homeowners the best of all worlds. 

When it comes to improved energy efficiency, you’ll see the benefits almost immediately. If you purchase new windows with a high solar coefficient, you’ll reap the greatest benefits in keeping heat and cold out while letting sunlight in. Multi-pane glass adds a layer of argon gas between the panes, increasing energy savings and comfort. Imagine setting your thermostat and reaching your ideal temperature in a half hour or less, compared to the hours it might take with your old windows. You’ll also feel pretty comfortable when you see your reduced electric bills, both in summer and in winter. As Karen Carlucci says of her home’s new windows, “The insulation is phenomenal. There’s no cold air going out [in the summer] or coming in the wintertime, and it made all the difference in the world for insulation and our electric bill.”

Noise reduction is an added benefit of new multi-paned windows. This can be especially important if your home is on a busy road or in a thriving commercial area. Whatever outdoor sounds are going on in your neighborhood, it’s nice to be able to keep them outside when you don’t want to be disturbed. Or maybe you have the opposite intention, to keep your noises inside. If you like to listen to loud music inside your house – or if your child is learning to play the trumpet, for example – you may wish to spare your neighbors. Either way, new windows provide greater soundproofing.

Keeping your house looking its best is important in all areas, but people with homes in historic districts have a special responsibility to maintain the appearance of their homes. Although your windows may not seem like the biggest feature of your house, they will certainly stand out if they don’t look good! Old windows and frames require near-constant maintenance: washing, sanding, painting, etc. As Matt Carlucci says, “A lot of the cost of painting a house, especially an old one like ours, is the windows. We don’t have to do that now, or the casings.” Presenting a beautiful home exterior is so much easier when your windows require only an occasional rinse.

If you have a historic home and have been living with less-than-ideal windows because you didn’t think new windows would fit in with the style and structure of your house, wait no more! Today’s new, improved windows will enhance the look of your home while preserving its historic style. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy a better quality of life through ease of use, decreased window maintenance, lower energy costs and a quieter home. 

In this article I have talked about how you can replace your old windows with new ones that allow you to keep the historic look of your home. I provided the additional benefits of new windows in older homes beyond the ability to preserve the historic style, including ease of use, increased energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, and improved soundproofing. If you have a comment about this article, please feel free to post it below. Also, if you found this article useful, please pass it on.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. They know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home. Their approach is a somewhat different than others. They strive to match the homeowner with the right windows and doors for their home and budget. They know that home improvements projects can be a hassle. They strive to make the process pleasant with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-wining installers that employ the best practices and who respect your home as if it were their own.

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Six Tips for Choosing Vinyl Windows

By Gates Dearen

Congratulations! You’ve made the wise decision to purchase vinyl windows. Vinyl frames are superior to wood and metal in many ways: They won’t pit, chip, rot, flake, or crack; they don’t require constant painting; they are more energy-efficient, keeping cold and heat out (or, alternately, in); and they are attractive. Just an occasional washing keeps them looking like new. But with so many options out there, how do you know what to look for?


If you plan to install your own windows, keep in mind that it can be tricky. Unless you are experienced in installation, you will likely find that it’s a rather unwieldy task. With large windows in particular, the risk of dropping and breaking a window is substantial. If you leave it to the experts, not only will they get the job finished much more quickly and efficiently, but if a window is broken in the process, they will replace it at no cost to you. Whether you choose to install your own windows or leave it to the experts, here are some tips that can make it as “pane-less” as possible.

·         Measure – twice. Determine your window needs based on the size and location of the windows. For example, let’s say that most of the windows in your house face west. Since the sun comes in from that direction most of the day, the windows on that side need to be especially efficient to keep the house from getting too hot in the summer.

Budget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


After you know the sizes of the windows you need to purchase, decide what your total budget is for the project. In addition to the variety of window sizes, there are also many other options. Generally the higher priced windows are going to be more energy efficient. Keep in mind that this is an investment that will pay off in energy savings and peace of mind. If you’re on a tight budget, you might consider
 replacing only some of your windows now and some later, making it possible to buy higher-quality windows, rather than buying cheaper windows for your entire home all at once.

Shop and Compare

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Look for this logo when considering your
new roofing materials (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once you’ve established your budget, and you know the sizes of the windows you need, it’s time to find the right windows. Now you want to compare energy ratings, wind and rain resistance, warranties, and window features. The ratings can be hard to understand. Do your homework and make sure you understand the differences before you shop. Get a sense of what the ratings mean and why they are important.

·         Energy efficiency: The Energy Star label is one indicator. Also compare the U-value of the windows. The lower the U-value, the more energy efficient the window. A U-value of 0.35 or below is typically considered a good level. Also look at the R-factor of each window option, which indicates how insulated it is. More insulation translates into more energy efficiency for your home. Look for a high R-factor; the higher the number, the more energy efficient the window. For best insulation, choose multi-paned windows with argon gas between the panes, and with an E-coating. These features ensure maximum weather protection and comfort. In Florida and other southern states, it’s also important to look at the solar coefficient, a measure of how well the window keeps out heat while letting in light.
Our glass warranty.

·         Wind and rain resistance: If you live in an area that is prone to high winds and/or damaging rain, you’ll want to be sure that your windows are made for such a climate. It’s important to investigate the quality of not just the glass but also the frames of any windows you’re considering

·         Warranties: Compare both manufacturer and seller warranties. Up-front savings won’t save you much if the product doesn’t have a repair or replacement warranty. Read the warranty carefully so you won’t have any surprises in the event that you need replacement or repair of your windows. In addition, it’s a good idea to read customer reviews and testimonials. Find a company with satisfied customers.

Our windows have a Lifetime Warranty

·         Window features: The features you choose are largely a matter of personal taste, unless you have children, in which case safety is also important. Work with a professional to decide which features will increase your comfort and your windows’ function and durability. Single-hung windows open from the bottom only. Double-hung windows can open from the top or the bottom. Again, it’s all about preference. If you want to transform a simple opening into a stunning room accent, you can choose from a variety of custom shapes for your windows.

Choosing vinyl windows may seem like a daunting task, but with a little research and some help from a professional, you will find the windows that work best for your home and your lifestyle. A variety of options allows you to add your own personal flair, especially if you go for a custom window. Whichever features you choose, vinyl windows are a great investment in energy savings and comfort.

In this article I talked about how to choose vinyl windows. I offered six tips for making the selection process less difficult: measuring, budgeting, and four aspects of shopping and comparing energy efficiency, wind and rain resistance, warranties, and window features. . If you have a comment about this article, please feel free to post it below. Also, if you found this article useful, please pass it on.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Gates Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. We know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home.  Our approach is a little different.  We strive to match the homeowner with the right windows for their home and budget. Home improvements can be a hassle.  We’re here to make life easier with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; strong warranties and expert, award-winning installers that provide excellent service while respecting your home as if it were their own. 

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