Installing Energy Efficient Windows to your Home Adds Value!

Installing Energy Efficient Windows add value to your homeIt’s August, and it is HOT! If you are considering upgrades to your home, the first thing to consider is new dual pane windows. Energy efficient windows not only save on energy bills, they also block a lot of unnecessary noise. And, as an added bonus – installing new windows will add value to your home.

Of course, whatever the season, nothing beats the blues like a light-filled room. However if you don’t think you can afford energy efficient windows, consider your options; repair, retrofit or replace.

First, it’s helpful to know “Window Basics”:

Frame Type:

Vinyl – affordable, low-maintenance, usually only come in white and they may fade.

Aluminum – affordable, strong, low maintenance, but not a great insulator.

Wood – beautiful, expensive, great insulator, must be maintained.

Composite – Stronger than wood or vinyl, mid-priced and paintable.

Aluminum or Vinyl Clad – top of the line with wood inside and either aluminum or vinyl on the outside, minimizes transfer of heat and cold, low maintenance.

Style Type:

Single and double-hung – classic styling, easy to clean, opens up and down.

Gliding – slides side to side, usually one side is fixed and one side slides.

Casement – opens with a crank, great for catching and pulling in a breeze.

Fixed – often called a picture window, great way to enjoy the view and bring in light.

Energy Efficient Technology (partial list):

Low-E – see-through metallic coating reflects heat in summer, keeps heat from escaping in winter.

R-Value – measures the resistance of heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the more efficient the window.

U-Factor – measures heat transfer from inside to outside. The lower the U-Factor, the more efficient the window.

Shatterproof Glass – at least twice as strong as regular glass, has plastic sheeting sandwiched between two panes of glass. Also has a Low-E rating and isolates the outside sound.

Dual Action Coating – the coating keeps the glass clean by breaking down organic matter as it collects on the glass.

Next evaluate condition and energy efficiency:

Do they function properly? Often windows in old homes are painted shut, and, if they do open, they do not open or close easily.

Is cold air seeping in around your windowpanes? Do you feel the heat from the outside radiating to the inside?

Is the framing material in good condition? Wood may be rotted, metal rusted, aluminum corroded, or vinyl faded or stained.

Is the glass broken or cracked? Is the glass clean and clear? Is the glass paint stained or water etched?

Is the hardware old and dingy? Do the locks work? Are the screens intact?

It is important to factor in all of these conditions when you are deciding how to improve the energy efficiency of your windows. It is also important to keep in mind the style of your home. Any changes that you make may affect the character of your home. For instance, if you live in a period home with stained glass windowpanes, changing them may affect the value of your home.

Finally, research your options:

Repair – get an estimate to repair your existing windows. Windowpanes can be replaced and framing materials can be cleaned, sanded, painted, and/or restored. Hardware can be restored or replaced and caulking will reduce the leakage.

Retrofit – There are many inexpensive ways to improve the energy efficiency; roll up shades, awnings, and the addition of reflective film. You might also consider adding storm windows.

Replacement – If you are tired of struggling with windows that get stuck, cracked panes, peeling paint, locks not working, it is probably time for replacements. Keep in mind, if the exterior shell of your home is not properly insulated, spending top dollar on high-end energy efficient windows may not be a cost-effective solution.

Whether you are repairing, retrofitting, or installing replacement windows, first evaluate the condition, then consider your options and finally enjoy the cost-effective, energy efficient decision that you made.

10 DIY Kitchen Remodel Ideas Under $100

10 DIY Kitchen Ideas under $100.With DIY kitchen ideas that cost under $100, and a little effort, you can completely transform your kitchen with simple changes; paint, hardware, lighting and maybe a new faucet.

So whether you are selling your home, or fixing up a home you just purchased, these DIY kitchen ideas are relatively easy and inexpensive.

1.  Painting walls and cabinets costs under $100 and with a little elbow grease your space will look fresh and updated. Consider using high-gloss paint for the cabinets so that they will clean with ease, and make sure that your brush strokes follow the wood grain.

2.  Replacing the cabinet handles and hinges costs under $100. Cabinet hardware starts at about $1.00 for the knobs, and $2.00 for the handles. And, a good quality self-closing hinge costs a couple of bucks and eliminates the need for cabinet latches.

3.  If you have ceramic tile and it’s in fairly good shape, you can decide to repair and re-grout the counter tops. Scraping out the old grout and installing new grout is a simple week-end project that costs well under $100.

4.  If your counter tops are butcher block, you can sand them down and just lay down few coats of mineral oil to freshen them up. You could also decide to stain the wood a new color which will dramatically change the look of your kitchen for just a few dollars.

5.  Another solution for butcher block is overlaying your existing counter tops with a coat of colored concrete, than re-do your back splash in small inexpensive tiles.

6.  For about $100 you can change out your kitchen faucet. Make sure that the configuration of the new faucet resembles the old one, i.e. – single hole, three hole, and, maybe a fourth hole for a soap dispenser.

7.  Consider storage solutions for your cabinets and transform your space from cluttered to organized. Simple, wire shelves make it possible to store extra mugs, or separate the dinner plates from the salad plates.

8.  Drawer organizers make it possible to actually find your cooking tools, at the same time protect your hands from sharp edges. And, $100 can buy a lot of drawer storage solutions.

9.  New light fixtures make a big difference for a minimal cost. Most of us can install new lighting, however, if you are uncomfortable dealing with electricity, you should be able to call in a licensed electrician for under $100.

10. Under cabinet lighting makes the whole kitchen seem brighter and helps when you are preparing and serving food. These days there are lots of under cabinet lighting solutions that use a minimal amount of electricity.

As you can see, there are a lot of DIY kitchen ideas that can be completed in a week-end or series of week-ends. For dramatic results, consider a rich new wall or cabinet color with new metal finishes for your hardware and faucet. And, if you are really brave, you can purchase appliance paint and refinish your appliances.

If you are getting ready to sell your home, be sure to contact a Century 21 M&M Real Estate Agent and get started!

The Pros and Cons of Solar Power.

In these economic times, it just makes sense to look for ways to save money now and in the foreseeable future. Electrical service suppliers all across the country are warning us that the rates are going up, even during these tough economic times. So lets take a moment to consider the Pros and Cons of solar energy…

The Pros are:

  • Energy from the sun is virtually free to use, at least once you have installed the solar panels
  • The Solar Federal tax credit may cover up to 30% of the installation costs up through 12/31/2016.
  • This type of power reduces your carbon footprint.
  • You might be able to sell the excess power you produce to your electrical supplier, thereby, reducing or eliminating your electric service bill.
  • As long as the sun is not blocked by shade, solar energy can be generated anywhere, even if there is no electric service provider available.
  • Once a solar system is installed you are not affected by an increase in prices from the electrical supplier.
  • Fuel ‘supply and demand’ is no longer an issue because systems powered by the sun do not require any fuel other than light and/or heat.
  • Once a solar system is installed, the savings are immediate and for many years to come.
  • Solar systems are virtually maintenance free and will last for many years to come, even decades.

The Cons are:

  • Solar systems are expensive to install.
  • Solar panels can take up a lot of space.
  • Solar systems require a storage system because they do not work at night.
  • Power from the sun is not as efficient in bad weather and may be affected by pollution.
  • Your roof has to be at a specific angle to the sun, and if it isn’t your installation may be less effective, or even impossible.

There are two forms of power from the sun; solar thermal energy or heat, and light energy or photovolataics.

Solar thermal technologies collect the sun’s heat. Both residential and commercial applications use this type of thermal collector to heat spaces, and heat water.

Applications of solar thermal technologies include:

  • Pool heaters, space heaters and water heaters use this type of low temperature collector.
  • Water heaters, cooking, disinfecting, distillation and desalination of water use what is known as a medium temperature collector.
  • Solar power towers, dish designs, heat engines and Fresnel reflectors and lenses use a high temperature collector.

Photovoltaics is the technology that is in fact what most people are referring to when they refer to “solar energy”. Photovoltaics (aka PV) technology converts light energy directly into an electric current. This power may be used immediately, or stored in some sort of a device such as a battery and used later.

Applications of photovoltaics (PV) include:

  • Photovoltaic power stations
  • Photovoltaics integrated in buildings, such as roof tiles and roof panels
  • Photovoltaics we are all familiar with; calculators, solar lighting, and emergency telephones
  • Rural electrification for remote homes and businesses that are off the grid

When considering the Pros and Cons of solar energy it is important to take into account both the pros and the cons. And, remember the cost of a particular sun powered product and its installation may not be cost-effective when you consider the the potential savings associated with the product.

For more information check out the US Department of Energy.

Energy Saving Tips, Save Money on Utilities

Century 21 M&M Energy Saving TipsAccording to Century 21 M&M Realtors, one of the biggest concerns for home buyers is the cost of utility bills. In fact, here in Central California, the cost of cooling our homes is a concern to all of us. So we thought we would share some Energy Saving Tips.

Energy Saving Tips are practical suggestions that will save you money. Detailed here are cost cutting suggestions are divided into three categories, no-cost tips, low-cost tips, and cost-effective investment tips that will pay you back over a period of time.

No-cost Tips are passive solutions that are practical, sometimes old fashioned ideas that cost no money:

  • Turn off a light when you are no longer using it
  • Take advantage natural light, just position your work station near a window and use ‘free’ light.
  • Drink an ice cold beverage on a hot summer day, or, a hot comforting coco when you come in from the cold.
  • Dress appropriately; add warm layers in the winter and in the summer, cool cotton garments that hang loose on the body are a great choice.
  • Adjust your thermostat – Setting your air conditioner 5° higher will save up to 20% on cooling costs.
  • Reduce air conditioning costs by using fans, keeping windows and doors shut and closing shades during the day. Most ceiling fans use less energy than a light bulb.
  • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when fully loaded. Fewer loads reduce energy and water use.

Low-cost energy saving tips are solutions that require a minimal investment, however, they pay off big!

  • Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs.
  • Check for light cracks at your exterior doors. If you can see light cracks, you are loosing your climate-controlled air out of those cracks. There is a simple, inexpensive fix for this called weather stripping which you can install for about $10.00 per door.
  • Check for air leaks around your windows. If you feel the outside temperature creeping into your home there are several inexpensive solutions to deal with this problem including weather stripping, caulking and window coverings.
  • Check for attic-to-home air leaks. Seal around chimney and framing with a high-temperature caulk or furnace cement and at the tops of interior walls, use long-life caulk to seal the smaller gaps and holes. Use expanding foam or strips of rigid foam board insulation for the larger gaps.

Cost-effective investment tips sometimes cost a substantial amount of cash up front, however, they will save you money over time.

  • Buy ENERGY STAR products when purchasing appliances or other systems for your home. These types of equipment have been tested and ‘seal’ approved, and are currently saving owners money on utility bills.
  • Install Energy Efficient dual pane windows. Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows lowers household energy bills by 7-15 percent.
  • Make sure that your attic has adequate insulation. For maximum energy efficiency, we recommend an insulation value of R-60 for attic floors – about 18 inches of insulation

Start today, practice one of these cost cutting measures, then add one tomorrow, and so on…and so on…before you know it these energy saving tips will take a bite out of utility bill expenses.

Call a Century 21 M&M Realtor today at (800) 350-1548.