Most parts of the country are right in the middle of fall — pumpkin-spiced foods and drinks are everywhere, brightly colored trees, scarves and the sounds of football games fill the weekends. However, homeowners know that with fall comes a big chill in the air because winter is approaching. If you’re dreading the snow-filled months of winter and what the wind chill means for your home’s energy bill, you’re not alone! Fall is the perfect time to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency, but do you know what you need to do to reduce your energy bill and keep your family toasty warm inside?
Choosing The Best Replacement Windows
Replacement windows are some of the best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Energy-efficient windows can reduce your monthly energy consumption by more than 20%, depending on your local climate, the size of your home, and the type of replacement windows that you choose. If you’re choosing replacement windows, it’s important that you understand a few simple ratings so that you’re making an informed decision.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (also called SHGC) is a measurement commonly used in warmer climates. The SHGC is measured in a number between 0 and 1. Replacement windows with a lower SHGC better block heat caused by the sun’s rays.
U-Factor. The U-Factor (also called U-Value) measures how well windows keep heat from escaping. When comparing U-Factors between different types of replacement windows, look for a lower number. The lower the number, the better a window insulates your home.
Visible Transmittance. Like SHGC, Visible Transmittance is measured between 0 and 1. However, unlike SHGC, a higher VT number is better. VT doesn’t actually measure energy efficiency though – instead, it measures how much light comes through a window. If you’re looking for a picture-perfect view, choose replacement windows with high VT ratings.
Energy Star. Even homeowners who have never heard of SHGC, U-Factor, and VT have heard of Energy Star ratings. Energy Star ratings are granted by the Environmental Protection Agency and can be found on everything from refrigerators to air conditioning units. When you start your search for replacement windows with ones that are Energy Star rated, you’ll be well on your way to saving money.
Now that you know what to look for in replacement windows, it’s time to choose a manufacturer. Andersen Windows are well-known throughout the country and the company is the largest manufacturer of wood windows. Andersen Windows offers a number of different options, including awning, casement, specialty windows like circles, ovals, or curves, double hung, gliding, and single hung windows. They’re available in wood or fiberglass so homeowners have a lot of choices when it comes to their replacement windows.
Choosing window installers is next on your list. Talk to your family and friends to see if they’ve recently used window installers and whether they were happy with the service provided. Then make sure to get a couple of solution-based estimates to make sure that you’re getting the best and realize that price cannot be your only consideration when you’re looking for window installers. If one bid is significantly lower than the others, there’s probably a reason!
Also, make sure that your bids are for like materials –This way you can rest assured you are comparing apples to apples so to speak! Next, check that the window installers are financially secure and insured, but don’t stop there. Ask if the window installers have undergone any special training by the manufacturer of the windows — this extra training will help ensure that your installation is done correctly, the first time! Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for customer reviews!
Can’t afford replacement windows just yet? If you’re a homeowner, there are a few simple things you can do to keep out the wind and cold, even if you’re stuck with your old, inefficient windows for another winter. First, check for any leaks and seal them off with caulking or weather stripping tape.
If you don’t find any leaks and you’re still cold, consider installing plastic sheeting on the inside of your window, creating a pocket of air between the glass and the sheeting.
The trapped air acts as an insulator, which helps keep the temperature inside your home constant. Realize that once you install this plastic, you cannot open your windows without removing it entirely so you’ll have to do this each and every winter until you can have energy-efficient replacement windows installed. Another drawback of this method is that although the plastic is clear, it can give the outdoors a cloudy look, limiting your view.
Replacing Your Siding? Don’t Forget About Insulation
If your home’s exterior is looking a little worse for the wear, you can improve its appearance and energy efficiency with just one project — having new siding installed. Vinyl has been popular for many, many years, but recently a new material has gained in popularity throughout the country, fiber cement. Fiber cement siding is made from a mixture of sand, cement, and water and it’s incredibly strong.
However, homeowners aren’t just choosing it because of its sturdy properties. Fiber cement siding looks great for many, many years and is low maintenance so that homeowners won’t have to spend their weekend hours painting their home’s siding. Additionally, some siding manufacturers spend a lot of time choosing the best colors and even change which ones they offer according to geographical location so that it’s possible to tailor your color to popular ones in your part of the country.
In particular, James Hardie fiber cement siding offers homeowners fade resistance that’s 30% better than competing siding manufacturers. It comes with a 15-year limited warranty on paint and labor, so homeowners can be sure that they’re choosing the best possible material for their homes.
Additionally, fiber cement siding offers an extremely high yield on investment and homeowners can see around 80% of their investment returned when they sell their homes. This is higher than any other home improvement project, making installing fiber cement siding an excellent choice. Fiber cement siding can also make your home stand out among others on the market, which might just help you sell your home faster when the time comes.
Although fiber cement siding is attractive and offers a high ROI, it’s not particularly insulating. This is why quality siding installers will recommend additional insulation during the installation process. When you add extra insulation to your walls or attic, you’ll be doing your part to reduce your energy consumption and your monthly energy costs. If your home already has sufficient attic insulation, consider fan-fold wall insulation — some studies have found that the right type of insulation can improve a home’s thermal performance by up to 600%! That’s money right back in your pocket, who could argue with that?
Like choosing a window installer, it’s vitally important that you understand what to look for when choosing a siding installation company. Look for one that’s received special training from the siding manufacturer. James Hardie and other types of fiber cement house siding require special knowledge and training, this is not a DIY job for the average homeowner.