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New Windows: An Investment That Pays Off for the Life of Your Home

By Gates Dearen


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Are you looking for a way to save money and update and improve your home’s appearance? New vinyl windows could be the answer. Vinyl frames are better than wood and metal in many ways: They won’t pit, chip, rot, flake, or crack; they don’t require constant scraping and painting; they are more energy-efficient, keeping cold and heat out (or, alternately, in); and they are, in many people’s opinion, more attractive. Just an occasional washing keeps them looking like new.

Vinyl Double Hung WindowUpdating
Updating your windows can add peace of mind through improved safety features, especially if you live in an older home. As Richard and Michelle Barnett explain in the video linked below, they were concerned about thin glass and lead paint on the single-pane windows and aluminum frames in their 1940s-built home and very poor sound proofing from outside noises. When they updated their home with vinyl windows, those fears disappeared. They no longer had to worry about paint chips or shattered glass once they had vinyl frames and double-pane windows installed. Here’s a link to the video where they tell their story:

                                                                               
Of course, the Barnetts are also thrilled by the increased energy efficiency their new windows provide. Not only have they saved money in energy costs on every electrical bill since having their windows installed, but they are able to enjoy their home much more now that it cools down so quickly in the evenings when they come home from work – less than a half-hour to reach ideal temperature compared to nearly four hours before. Richard says that with their old windows, they could “feel any change in wind, any change in temperature.” Of course, if you can feel the wind through your windows, you know you’re losing valuable cooling, or heating energy. But with new windows, the outdoors stays outdoors. And that doesn’t apply only to the weather, but also to noise, in fact the Barnetts mention in the video that they used to be able to hear dogs barking from three blocks away! While it’s easy to measure energy savings from one month to the next, quality of life gains are no so easily quantified, but they are certainly significant.

Visible Light
You might be wondering how windows can save you money. The short answer is that technology has improved glass coating and glazing techniques and materials. The slightly longer answer that follows will explain how that helps cut your cooling and heating costs. Low-e, or Low-emissivity, refers to glass panels’ ability to reflect light. Low-emissivity windows cause heat to be reflected off, rather than allowing it to collect and “seep through” (be emitted) into the home. The Low-e coating keeps the heat from being absorbed and emitted, instead reflecting it away from the glass. This technology is related to the insulation used in spacecraft to keep heat from accumulating on both reflective surfaces, inside and outside, but actually the application of the technology is more complicated in windows because glass has such a high level of emissivity, thus posing the challenge of maintaining Low-e while letting in light. Manufacturers of high-quality windows apply coatings to reflect radiant energy, which helps to keep heat on the same side of the glass it’s coming from – outside in summer, inside in winter – while allowing light to pass through. This improves thermal efficiency (insulating properties) because radiant heat stays where it belongs, outside or inside depending on the season and the weather.

Ease of Maintenance
If you’ve ever spent time scraping and repainting wood or metal windows frames, you know it’s no fun. To be kept looking nice, the older types of windows need this kind of maintenance every few years, and the in-between cleaning is no picnic either! Dirt seems to cling to painted wood frames in particular. Grimy windows and frames give your home an overall dingy appearance. Vinyl window frames need almost no maintenance. They truly could not be easier to care for. A quick rinse or wipe every once in a while, and they look as good as new, keeping your home’s exterior looking its best.
The benefits don’t stop there; your new windows will cut down on the UV rays coming into your home, which can extend the life of your carpeting and furniture too. You could also add light – and maybe, as the Barnetts did, space – through good planning, placement, and installation of your new windows. Improved appearance, lower energy bills, better quality of life, and a more attractive home – that’s what we call a good return on investment!

In this article, we discussed the ways that investing in vinyl replacement windows can pay off for many years. Some of the benefits we mentioned are improved appearance, better energy efficiency, better quality of life, and a more attractive home.

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 as pleasant as possible with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-winning installers that employ the best practices and who respect your home as if it were their own. 

Small Windows That Make a Big Statement

By Gates Dearein

Sidelights, dormers, bays, and bows. You may have heard of some of these types of windows  – but what are the others? One or more of these special windows may be just the touch you’ve been looking for to add style and distinction to your home. And they aren’t just attractive.  Each has its practical purpose too, from adding light to creating space. One word of caution, though: Even if you consider yourself a skilled handyman or handywoman, these windows are trickier to measure for and install than ordinary windows, so you may want to leave this job to the professionals. Below we’ll explain what each type is, and where in your house you might want to use it.

Sidelights
A nice door Kew Gardens

You’ve probably seen these and may not have known what they were called. Sidelights are narrow vertical windows on one side, or sometimes both sides, of entry doors. They add light to foyers and other entry areas, creating a nice, welcoming space. Depending on your design taste and budget, there are many options. You can go with clear glass, in which case you would probably want to put up a window treatment, easily found for this type of window at most stores that sell window treatments, obscure glass which gives a bit more privacy, or something a bit fancier such as etched or stained glass. These types of windows are a simple way to add a flair to your home.

Dormers
English: House in Cumberland, Maryland USA wit...
The term “dormer” is often used interchangeably with “dormer window”. A dormer is a part of a building that juts forward from the surface; a dormer window is a window fitted into that space. Dormer windows are similar to skylights in that they add light to higher areas of a home, but most dormer windows open, allowing for ventilation and making what may have been an unbearably hot and stuffy part of the house easier to tolerate. If you have attic space that you’re converting into living space, such as a loft, dormer windows may be just what you’re looking for in terms of style and practicality. Some dormer windows, those called “blind dormers”, look like windows from the outside but are not visible from inside the house. These windows are strictly an exterior style element.

Bay Windows
English: Line art drawing of a bay window. Fra...
Bay windows comprise a category made up of many kinds of windows. Technically, any window construction that protrudes from a house is a bay window, regardless of shape, angle, height, or width. The kind of bay windows most of us are familiar with are bow windows and oriel windows. The main difference between the two is that oriel windows tend to be more ornamental and are rarely used in new residential construction. These are the windows you see typically on old buildings in downtown areas. One of the reasons they first gained popularity in cities was that they offer a more expansive view of street and foot traffic. Both types curve outward from the main part of the house and are usually on upper levels, although sometimes bay windows are on the first floor. Bay windows add a great deal of architectural interest to a home, on the inside as well as the outside. Depending on how large the angle of the window curve is, the interior nook created by a bay window can be used for anything from a window seat to a parlor.

Custom Windows
In addition to the less-commonly used types of windows we’ve discussed above, you might have something in mind for a special spot in your house, and you just haven’t been able to find the right thing. Keep in mind that you can have custom windows made in almost any size and shape, to perfectly complement your home’s d├ęcor or add just the right finishing touch to your remodeling project. It’s amazing how much a room can change by letting in a little more light.

In this article, we’ve described some windows that are different from the usual rectangles. We’ve explained where and why you might want to use each kind, and also mentioned having custom windows made if you’re looking for something completely unique.

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 as pleasant as possible with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; and expert, award-winning installers that employ the best practices and who respect your home as if it were their own. 


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The Top 5 Questions to Ask When Replacing Your Windows and Doors

By Gates Dearen
Photo Credit: nelsonwindow.com

You’ve noticed that your doors and windows are letting in the elements, or are bringing down the overall appearance of your house. You’ve decided to replace them, so all you need to do is measure each window and door and then head out to the nearest hardware superstore, right? 

Wrong! It’s important to assess your home’s individual needs and to understand the best solutions for energy efficiency, as well as home security. We have compiled a list of the most important questions to ask as you choose your replacement windows and doors.

What is my budget?
While it may be tempting if you are on a tight budget to “go cheap” when replacing your windows and doors, a better plan may be to choose the best windows and doors you can afford now for part of your house, and wait until you can do the same for the rest of the house later. High-quality windows and doors are an important investment in your home’s appearance, security, and energy efficiency. As with most purchases, spending a little more on the front end can reap greater benefits down the road. A windows and doors professional can help you to determine which should be replaced first and which can wait.

What features are important to me?
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’ and doors’ 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. 

casement distinction window

When it comes to entry doors, there are also many options. Maybe you want a standard solid door with small windows at the top. Or maybe you prefer something a bit more reflective of your personal style, such as a door with a stained glass insert or a decorative lockset. Look at your options and find the door that says “home” to you. Many people prefer to spend a great portion of their budget on an entry door over other doors and windows in their homes because it’s the first thing they (and their guests) see upon arriving at their home. Again, it just depends on what you like.

Patio doors offer fewer options aesthetically speaking, but do differ in terms of safety features such as shatter-proof glass and functionality. Do your homework. Here in Florida it’s especially important that your patio door is made of impact-resistant glass. Low-e coatings and energy-star ratings are also important, but we’ll get to those later. Beyond these features, the options include clear glass or obscure glass, which provides additional privacy.

Do the windows and door glass have a Low-e coating?

Visible LightLow-e, or Low-emissivity, refers to glass panels’ ability to reflect light. Low-emissivity windows and doors cause heat to be reflected off, rather than allowing it to collect and “seep through” (be emitted) into the home. The Low-e coating keeps the heat from being absorbed and emitted, instead reflecting it away from the glass. This technology is related to the insulation used in spacecraft to keep heat from accumulating on both reflective surfaces, inside and outside, but actually the application of the technology is more complicated in windows and doors because glass has such a high level of emissivity, thus posing the challenge of maintaining Low-e while letting in light. Manufacturers of high-quality windows and doors apply coatings to reflect radiant energy, which helps to keep heat on the same side of the glass it’s coming from – outside in summer, inside in winter – while allowing light to pass through. This improves thermal efficiency (insulating properties) because radiant heat stays where it belongs, outside or inside depending on the season and the weather.

What energy-efficiency ratings do these windows and doors have?
There are several standards set by the industry that let you know your windows and doors will work hard to save energy (and money in cooling/heating costs). The one you’re probably most familiar with is the Energy Star rating. In order to carry the familiar symbol (shown below), windows and doors must be, at a minimum, 15% more energy efficient than those without the designation. Most doors and windows have a sticker that shows their actual energy efficiency. If not, ask. Any reputable window and door professional will readily share this information with you.
Look for this logo when considering your new r...

Another performance standard is the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) Certification. This is a non-profit group that, as stated in their website, “empowers consumers who are in the market for energy efficient windows, doors, and skylights. When you see the NFRC label on these products, this is your assurance that it’s going to perform the way it’s advertised to perform.” (www.nfrc.org)

How can new windows and doors make my home more secure?
Unless you have recently updated your windows and doors you’ll find that security options have improved. When thinking about security, think beyond the doors and windows themselves. Look for fire-rated doorframes and window frames, high-performance hinges, secure and weather-resistant thresholds and astragals, and of course high-quality locksets. Look for ease of use in window locks. Most new high-quality windows have simple slide or flip locks. The same is true for patio doors; while the older types may not have been easy to secure, the new ones are.

As for the doors and windows themselves, look for impact ratings, as well as long-term warranties. It’s a good idea here in Florida to choose doors and windows that will stand up against severe weather. Security isn’t just about keeping out human intruders. There are plenty of items in your yard that you wouldn’t want in your house if the wind picked them up and tossed them!

In this article, I discussed the top five questions to ask when replacing your windows and doors, and why those are important questions to ask. I explained what to look for as you plan out your new window and door purchase.

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.