Energy Efficient Home Upgrades

energy saverSave green indoors and out with energy-efficient home upgrades

(BPT) – Spring is the perfect time to think green. For some it’s spurred by the coming of Earth Day, others the renewed greening of our lawns. And many are motivated by the desire to save a little green in their wallets with a fresh new season of home repairs. If you’re one of these people, you can help save some green for the planet, as well as your hard-earned cash, by making energy efficient upgrades throughout your home.

Helping the world stay green gained traction with the first Earth Day held March 22, 1970, as declared by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. As a nation, much has been accomplished with the environmental movement, yet there are also easy things you can do at home to “go green” and save money at the same time. Here are some tips for home energy efficiency upgrades indoors and out.

* Cool efficiently: When it comes to home energy bills, heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of the average home’s utility costs, according to energy.gov. Get ready for the hottest days of summer by tuning up your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system so it’s operating efficiently. Change your HVAC filters regularly. In addition, if your cooling system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with one that has a Seasonal Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 20.00 for better savings. Trane’s XL20i, for example, can mean a savings of up to 60 percent on your annual cooling costs – that’s cool cash in your pocket.

* Programmable temperature controls: A programmable HVAC control can reduce energy consumption by up to 15 percent compared to traditional nonprogrammable thermostats. Today’s HVAC control systems, like the Trane ComfortLink II Control, now monitor indoor and outdoor temperatures, plus home energy use over time, to help you manage energy and comfort even further.

* Conserve water: Remember, water isn’t free. Indoors, lower water bills by installing low-flow water fixtures including toilets, showerheads and faucets. Outdoors, add a water-saving spigot for the garden hose. To avoid water evaporation, water your plants early or late in the day, and when your green lawn starts to grow, don’t mow too low. If you have lawn sprinklers, double check that they are set to water grass and shrubbery instead of the driveway or sidewalk. Rather than hose down your deck to clean it, save water by sweeping instead.

* Lighting: About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs, according to energy.gov – in fact, by just replacing five of your home’s most frequently used lights with energy efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you could save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared with traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents can yield as much as 75 percent energy savings and last six times longer. You can save even more energy and wasted heat by switching to LEDs. Outdoor lights using CFLs or LEDS save energy, too, so look for ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures designed for outdoor use.

By taking these steps, you can help make the world a little greener, keep your home a little greener, and save even more green where it really hits home – in your wallet.

 

Invest in Your Home with a Wood Deck

deck(BPT) - A wood deck is one of the best investments a homeowner can make.

As the seasons turn, more homeowners look for projects that not only make their homes more livable, but also offer great return on investment. With demand high across the country for outdoor spaces that bring the comforts of the indoors outside, there’s no surprise that decks are one of the top remodeling projects for 2014.

In fact, a residential wood deck addition has a recouped cost of 87.4 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the second highest ROI midrange project only behind an entry door replacement. That means adding a deck to your property will increase your livable space so you can enjoy the outdoors more, and you can rest easy knowing you’re boosting the value of your home investment.

If you think you’d like to add a wood deck to your home, you might wonder about the different material options. “Although composite and PVC decking have gained popularity in recent years, pressure-treated wood decking still carries the lion’s share of the market because it’s inexpensive, easy to work with and can be found at any lumberyard,” says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products, a leading supplier of lumber and decking materials.

Today’s pressure-treated lumber comes with advancements that weren’t available to homeowners just a few years ago. For example, with more homeowners seeking eco-friendly building materials, wood suppliers are exploring environmentally preferred treatment methods. For example, ProWood’s micronized copper azole (MCA) treated lumber decking is eco-friendly, cost effective and easy to install.

MCA is a method for treating the wood (typically pine) using an EPA-registered waterborne wood preservative system to protect against termite attack and rot. MCA-treated lumber provides a light, natural look, unlike other pressurized wood treatments that result in the greenish hue with which most people are familiar.

You can leave MCA treated lumber in its natural state for a more organic appearance in your outdoor spaces, or you can choose ProWood Dura Color decking that is color-infused with pigment driven deep into the wood fibers. This process creates beautiful treated wood grain that will stand up to the elements for many years, with no need for staining.

“People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don’t want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they quickly fade to gray,” says Fox. “ProWood Dura Color lumber not only looks like natural cedar or redwood, but the color lasts much longer and is backed by a two-year color assurance warranty”

When researching treated wood materials for outdoor home improvement projects, such as a deck addition, Fox suggests discussing the project with the local lumber dealer and to be sure to understand and check the end tag for:

1. The description of use (above ground or ground contact)
2. Warranty statement
3. The quality standards it meets
4. Third-party quality inspection (which assures product has passed retention and penetration tests).

To learn more about the MCA process and get ideas about outdoor home improvement projects, visit www.prowoodlumber.com. Research proves a wood deck is a sound investment, and now with new eco-friendly decking materials, homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to improving their home’s exterior spaces.

 

How To Choose the Right Windows for Your Home

 

JroppoWhether you’re getting ready for a window replacement project for your property or building a new home, choosing the right windows can seem like a major task. You’ll need to decide whether you want fiberglass, vinyl or wood-clad, but the decisions don’t end there. Homeowners also need to choose the right style window and grille. Learn more about the specific styles that work for each property type so you can keep it looking great.

 

What Type Of Window For A Tudor Home?

 

If you have a Tudor style, your windows will likely be double hung styles with a pattern near the top of the glass or casement styles with six to eight panes or simulated-divided -lights separated by muntins. Muntins are small strips of metal or wood that hold each individual pane of glass in place or mimic the look of individual panes of glass, however they can also be called glazing bars, grilles, grids or muntin bars. A casement window will open from the side to provide a large vertical opening, while double hung styles can open from either the top or the bottom, allowing homeowners to customize the breeze that comes into their house.

 

Do You Have A Modern Property? 

 

Modern windows use single, large panes of glass without any grilles or other adornments. The look is clean, sleek and modern and provides an unobstructed view of the outdoors, which is great if you’re trying to keep an eye on your kids playing outside.

 

What Type For A Farmhouse?

 

If you have a farmhouse, your property is built for function and simplicity. Windows in a farmhouse are typically two panes of glass divided by a muntin in the middle. It’s not uncommon for a farmhouse to feature double hung styles to create a breeze through the house from both the top and the bottom.

 

What Style Works In A Craftsman House?

 

Many styles work in a Craftsman home — from large picture windows that don’t actually open to functional ones that use a combination of full panes on the bottom and divided panes at the top. It’s not uncommon for a working window to be a double hung style so homeowners can choose to open them from the top or the bottom.

 

Do You Have a Prairie House?

 

If you have a prairie style home, the casement style is right for your house. They’re typically simple and plain, but may have a grid pattern along the sides to add some visual interest.

 

What Type Of Windows For A Cape Cod Or Colonial?

 

Double hung styles are common for a Cape Cod or Colonial home, and these are typically made of six individual panes of glass separated by muntins. Some of these houses may even have a non-functional picture window at the front of the house to add a bit of visual interest.

 

What Style For A Victorian?

 

If you have a true Victorian or just a Victorian style home, a window may include special touches to add visual interest, including colored glass accents, fanlights and diamond-patterned grids. The beauty and light shines through easily, creating a one of a kind look for your home.

 

No matter what style of home you have, it’s important to choose the right windows. If you’re still not sure which type is right for your house, work with a window replacement company. They’ll be knowledgeable about which style will maximize the return on your investment when it’s time to sell your home.

 

About the Author:

Opal Enterprises is a professional window replacement company that loves sharing knowledge with homeowners. For over 10 years, they have been providing windows, siding, and roofing to the Naperville, IL are and western suburbs of Chicago.

Best Gardening Tools for Small Lawns

lawnFor small lawns, choose smart tools that get the job done quickly and store away neatly

(BPT) – Small lawns have many of the same needs and issues as larger lawns, but they don’t always require the same bulky tools to get the job done. A smart arsenal for small lawn care includes some sturdy hand tools and a few small, but powerful, gadgets. If you’re looking to outfit your arsenal, consider these tools.

* Easy thatch dispatchers – Thatch is a natural protective layer of debris that forms in lawns at the soil level and helps retain soil moisture. But when thatch gets too thick, matting to half an inch deep or more, it can prevent water, air and nutrients from reaching grass roots. Thatch removal tools slice through and lift thatch. The push-powered, wheeled Combisystem Vertical Cutter by Gardena removes matted thatch and aerates the lawn soil at the same time. For those who prefer manual raking, there’s the sharp-bladed True Temper Thatch Rake.

* Lawn care at the flip of a switch – Small lawns need fertilizer and treatment for weeds just like large lawns. But a large awkward push spreader can be overkill for a small lawn and take up valuable storage space in the garage. The new lightweight, hand-carried, battery-powered Ready2Go Spreader is specifically designed to make quick work of small lawns, slopes and tight spaces. It comes pre-loaded with popular lawn care products from Preen, GreenView and Vigoro. Each unit is pre-calibrated for its product so no further adjustments are ever needed. To use the spreader, just pick it up, flip the switch and walk to cover up to 2,500 square feet to fertilize or treat the lawn. To spiff up yards overrun with weeds including tough dandelions, try the Ready2Go Spreader with Preen Lawn Weed Control. For eco-friendly spring lawn feeding, the Ready2Go Spreader with GreenView Lawn Food offers quick green up plus controlled nutrient release over eight weeks. Each unit is refillable, reusable, and its pre-installed AA batteries are replaceable. After use, store the compact, portable tool on a shelf, with no space lost in the garage or shed.weed

* Water the lawn, not the living room – For a lawn, water ranks with sunlight in terms of importance. For a small lawn, often nestled up close to the house and open summer windows, putting water only where it’s wanted is desirable. The Dramm Colorstorm 9-Pattern Turret Sprinkler has adjustable directional sprays in nine different patterns to water small lawns evenly. Durable and efficient, it gives the lawn the good, deep soaking it needs, while leaving the living room curtains dry and blowing in the summer breeze.

* Keep the lawn in fighting trim – Mowing a lawn regularly is more than aesthetic: keeping grass at the right length, between two-to-four inches, helps grass develop strong roots. The Black and Decker 19-inch cordless electric mulching mower is designed for small lawns. It not only makes it easy to keep the lawn mowed to the correct height, it chops up clippings so they decompose easily, discouraging thatch buildup.

* Give a small lawn an edge – By their nature, small lawns are often viewed up close and personal. Edged lawns not only look nice, they help keep garden weeds out of the lawn and vice versa. But edging by hand is hard work. The GreenWorks 12 Amp Corded Edger is sturdy, lightweight, easy to maneuver and ideally suited to creating crisp tidy edges in turf along borders of walkways, driveways, paths and garden or landscape beds. With only a connecting cord of its own, attach the edger to the grounded outdoor-rated extension cord of choice, up to 50-feet. For those who prefer a manual edging solution, choose an edging tool with a sturdy handle and a strong hand-forged cutting edge such as the English-made Clarington Edging Knife.

These are tools that get the job done and done quickly, keeping small lawns trim, tidy and naturally strengthened to fend off weeds. They’re also compact and easy to store and keep until next needed, a boon where storage spaces are also smaller with no room to spare.

Outdoor kitchens: Tools and tips to do it yourself

kit 2(BPT) – Outdoor kitchens are one of the hottest trends for exterior home improvements in 2014, a survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects reveals. If you’re considering creating a backyard kitchen this year, you may be wondering how much of the work you can do yourself in order to get the most out of your budget. Fortunately, many aspects of the job are within the abilities of the average do-it-yourselfer, and resources like rental stores mean you can easily obtain the tools you need to get the job done.

Getting started

Your first step is to assess your outdoor space, decide where your kitchen will be and determine how much area you can dedicate to it. Will you start from scratch, perhaps creating a patio of pavers or building a new deck to accommodate the kitchen? Or will existing structures provide a starting point?

Next, seek inspiration. Resources like Pinterest, YouTube, home improvement shows and outdoor living websites can provide ideas and insight into current design trends in outdoor kitchens. Gathering ideas can help you decide what elements your kitchen must have – such as a multi-burner stove and ample lighting for nighttime entertaining – and what might be on your list of possible features, like a wet bar or built-in seating around the kitchen.

Designing your outdoor kitchen

Once you know where your outdoor kitchen will go and what features you will include, it’s time to start laying out your plans. Plenty of online tools are available to helpkit you design an outdoor living space, including the kitchen of your dreams.

You’ll need to consider many factors, including the dimensions and layout of your outdoor kitchen, materials you will use and how you will landscape around it. Popular building materials include pavers, stone, wood or composite materials, and each imparts its own look to your outdoor entertaining area.

The building process

While most homeowners will have at least some of the tools needed to complete an outdoor kitchen, it’s likely you’ll be missing others. Renting tools through an American Rental Association member store is a cost-effective way to obtain the equipment you need without a long-term investment of money and storage space. To find a rental store in your area, visit www.rentalhq.com.

Tool rental can also ease another reality of DIY construction – the ability to work around your schedule and at your own pace. Renting tools means you can get what you need when you need it, without having large or expensive pieces lying around when not in use.

Give yourself plenty of time to work on your outdoor kitchen, and don’t be afraid to seek help. Friends and family can pitch in on basic tasks, but some higher-level jobs – such as installing a gas line for a built-in range – may require professional help.

Six Ways to Kick Your Lawn’s Grass This Season

tractor(BPT) – For most of us, springtime can’t come soon enough. Following a brutal winter with severe temps and record snowfall nationwide, people are more anxious than ever to enjoy the first days of spring outdoors.

To help get your lawn ready for use and enjoyment this season, the Craftsman brand has developed the following tips to ensure that your lawn kicks grass, takes names and becomes the envy of neighbors everywhere.

* Fertilize: Lawns wake up hungry in the spring. Feeding your lawn in the spring strengthens roots and gets it ready for growing season. A well-fed lawn means a better root system to combat weeds early, as well as heat, cold and drought.

* Remove debris: Leftover sticks and leaves from the fall and winter months don’t only look unpleasant, but they deprive the grass of oxygen and sunlight.

* Don’t mow too low: It’s imperative to fix your mower at an elevated setting so that the grass can grow to about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. This technique results in fewer summertime weeds and healthier, greener looking grass.

* Don’t overwork: For larger yards, lawn maintenance all season long can be a cumbersome experience. To get the job done with exceptional speed, consider the Craftsman 22HP 42-in. Turn Tight (TM) Fast Riding Mower. This not only has a 6-inch turning radius, but can also reach speeds of up to 7.5 mph. To conquer large lawns with rugged terrain and thick grass, consider the powerful new Craftsman G7400 Pro Series Mower, available at sears.com and Sears Hometown stores nationwide. This riding mower boasts Turn Tight (TM) technology, the ability to reach 7.5 mph and is equipped with a reinforced deck with electric lift, automatic transmission, quick blade change and more.

* Keep it quiet: To avoid disturbing your neighbors and to protect your hearing, consider using the new Craftsman Quiet Front Wheel Drive Lawn Mower. This new lawn mower (also offered in an all-wheel drive model) is equipped with the Briggs & Stratton’s Quiet Power Technology (TM) Engine and is 65 percent quieter than a similar Toro lawn mower model (20371). It is so quiet that you can talk to your neighbors and hear your kids while the motor is still running.

* Let it breathe: Aerating – or poking small holes in your lawn – is a great way to improve oxygen circulation and nutrient penetration. Consider ventilating your lawn with spiked shoes or the Craftsman 36-inch Spike Aerator that works with all brands of riding lawn mowers and tractors.

With these six tips, your lawn will be in good shape for the growing season and will take top honors for the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood. For more information about recommended Craftsman lawn and garden products, visit www.craftsman.com or Sears stores nationwide. To receive exclusive Craftsman deals, gain access to members-only projects, get expert tips and learn about the latest tool innovations from the brand, don’t forget to sign up for Craftsman Club, supported by SHOP YOUR WAY (TM). Shop Your Way points can be redeemed for purchases at Sears and Kmart.

How to Go Green When Remodeling

Just because remodeling necessarily implies “changing your environment” doesn’t mean you have to fret about harming the planet when you replace your floors,go green ceilings and walls. In fact, the building industry, like every other nowadays, offers many eco-friendly options for renovating your space. And, when you think about it, even adding an addition is eco-friendly, considering you’re adding onto an existing structure, rather than despoiling unused land for a completely new one.

But, beyond this, there are many ways you can transform your home while also helping to preserve the environment. The following is a short list of some of the best of these options:

5 Green Remodeling Tips

1. Be Materials-Conscious

The most eco-friendly source for remodeling materials is decidedly local. But, if you don’t live in a forest and don’t have access to a mom-and-pop lumber yard, you can build with prefabricated wood products, such as studs, joists and trusses manufactured from smaller stock. These products are already sized and shaped to serve their intended function, so there is no waste, in cutting to size, from using them. Additionally, many big-box retailers carry products premade for use as trimming and deck work that are made of recycled plastics and wood. Most of all however, always use water-based finishes, paints and stains.

2. Choose Eco-Friendly Flooring

The volatile organic compounds found in some kinds of flooring can contaminate the air inside your home. It’s better to go with linoleum or natural-fiber carpeting, both of which can last decades and are made from renewable resources. The cork in linoleum, for instance, is harvested without damaging cork trees.

Better still, however, is carpet-like flooring made from reeds and grasses, as well as stone and ceramic tile and hardwood and bamboo. In any case, be sure to air out your house after installation whenever you use adhesives.

3. Insulate Properly

People do some of the greatest harm to the environment by wasting energy, and one major culprit for energy waste is poorly insulated homes. Energy waste isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s a financial issue. Consequently, making sure your home is properly insulated will both help the environment and save you money in air conditioning and heating your home. Otherwise, you are essentially throwing money out the window.

As for eco-friendly insulation materials, the building industry offers several, including loose-fill insulation made from recycled paper. One great way to renovate your home, save money and help the environment, then, is to simply use this material to re-insulate an existing structure. If you choose to do so, remember to re-insulate your heating and cooling ducts and to install windows made from insulated glass.

4. Go Solar

Yes, installing solar panels has a very high upfront cost, but you could eventually make your entire investment back by selling unused energy to the grid. But solar panels aren’t the only way to go “solar.” In fact, by simply choosing the correct window placement, size and ventilation in a new structure or addition, you can drastically reduce the amount of energy you use (and money you spend) heating your home.

5. Buy Green Appliances

It might not occur to you, but every time you turn on that old washing machine, you’re wasting immense amounts of water and electricity. In this case, again, a good way to save both money and energy is to update your appliances. In fact, finding energy efficient appliances is easier than ever as all major appliances must now have EnergyGuide labels attached to them, making it super-easy to compare models’ and brands’ energy and water consumption.

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Contributing Author: Paul Kazlov is a “green” home modeling enthusiast that understands the importance of going green.  Paul writes for the Global Home Blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar.  Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

Early Spring Landscaping

outdoor1(BPT) – People across the country are feeling the winter blues after an unusually cold and snowy winter. But with warmer weather arriving soon, you can create a feeling of spring indoors and out with some simple do-it-yourself projects.

Roll up your sleeves and embrace the season of growth with these home and gardening tips:

* A fresh coat of paint is the perfect way to bring springtime indoors. Find inspiration from outdoor hues such as fun yellows, vibrant blues or a bright blend of pinks, oranges and reds. Start with an accent wall, which you can complete in just a few hours for under $50 with supplies from your local home improvement store.

* Spread the spring theme from your freshly painted walls into your outdoor gardens. Start now by planting seedlings indoors for delicious edible plants and beautiful, colorful blooms you can enjoy all summer long. Lowe’s garden center offers regionally relevant plants and the tools necessary for potting, planting and transplanting seedlings into your backyard garden once spring arrives and the ground thaws. In the meantime, cherish the beauty of your indoor garden as it reminds you of the warm weather on the way.

* As temperatures begin to warm, time to enjoy the outdoors is just around the corner. Soon enough you’ll be relaxing with family and friends on your deck or in theoutdoor 2 backyard around a fire pit. Take time now to get prepared for spring and summer days. Decorate and furnish your outdoor space with allen + roth patio furniture from Lowe’s. From bistro sets perfect for enjoying breakfast to conversation sets that will make your guests linger during longer days, you can create a specialty look at affordable prices.

* Get a jumpstart on your landscaping projects by removing traces of winter from your yard. As soon as the snow melts and the ground thaws, pick up or mow leaves and fallen twigs, trim or prune the bushes and give your grass a professional look by edging along paved pathways. Kobalt offers all the tools you need in its new outdoor power equipment line. Launched this spring, the line includes seven cordless tools that all operate off a single, interchangeable, 40-volt lithium ion battery. The selection includes two push lawn mowers, a chainsaw, pole saw, string trimmer and edger, blower and hedge trimmer. No need to wait for all the batteries to recharge – just switch them out from tool to tool and you can spruce up the yard in no time.

Spring is calling with these simple, affordable DIY projects that are sure to leave the winter blues behind you. In a weekend or less, your home and backyard will feel a sense of spring renewal that will provide long hours of enjoyment for months to come.

 

Decorating With Light

natural light 1

A combination of hinged roof windows and skylights, with décor enhancing and energy-efficient blinds, add style while providing natural light and fresh air.

(BPT) – Something about spring seems to inspire us to lavish attention on our homes. Whether enthusiastically cleaning or freshening decor, Americans seize spring as an opportunity to breathe new life into interior spaces. While painting and decluttering are great ways to revitalize home decor, for sheer spring-like impact it’s hard to beat decorating with light.

Incorporating light into interior design can go far beyond a few strategically placed, attractive lamps and some upgraded overhead lights. It’s possible to use both natural and artificial lighting to complement other decor and architectural elements, and to create a brighter, upbeat mood that’s perfect for warm weather. Not sure where to begin? Here are a few concepts to keep in mind as you begin decorating with light:

Natural beauty

There’s no debating the benefits of natural light for boosting mood. After dark, short winter days, spring brings abundant sunshine, and you can put all that natural light to work in your home. Boost daylighting by lightening up window treatments to admit as much sunshine as possible, choose fresh paint colors that interplay well with the direction from which light enters a room, and consider adding skylights to rooms that demand drama or where adding a window isn’t practical.

A relatively low cost home improvement that can be accomplished by a professional in a day or two or over a single weekend, adding a skylight not only enhances home decor, it delivers energy-saving benefits as well. Skylights can help reduce dependence on artificial lighting – saving money on electricity bills. And, if you choose an ENERGY STAR certified solar-powered, fresh-air skylight like those made by Velux America and add remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds, you can improve the skylight’s energy performance rating by as much as 45 percent while improving indoor air quality through the venting effect of open skylights (which close automatically in case of rain). -Solar-powered skylights and blinds qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as does the cost of installation. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more.

Lightening colors

natural light 2

Fresh air skylights with energy-efficient designer binds provide natural light, passive ventilation and privacy in bedrooms and baths.

Some hues absorb more light, making them appear darker which causes the room to look dark as well. Spring is a great time to lighten colors throughout the home, and not just wall colors. Fresh paint brightens any room, but to amplify the effect, choose lighter, less intense colors such as pastel yellows, peaches and soft blues.

Continue the color upgrade through key decorating elements such as upholstery fabric, accent rugs, window treatments and wall art. Choose colors that speak to you of spring, whether it’s an Easter egg pale purple, a cheerful sky blue or a bright grass green. Replace heavy winter drapes with translucent sheers that admit natural light and give rooms an airy, open feeling.

Upgrading other light sources

While you take steps to maximize the amount of natural light that enters you home, artificial lighting will always be needed, especially when spring showers darken the skies for a while. Choose light fixtures – including floor and table lamps – that continue the bright, easy atmosphere you’ve already created with color and natural light.

Keep in mind the importance of layering light with a mix of sources throughout a room, and choose lighting styles that fit the room’s purpose. For example, in kitchens where a lot of work gets done, overhead and under-counter lights provide the best illumination for cooking and other chores. In bedrooms, wall sconces and table lamps provide softer, more soothing light.

Don’t overlook energy efficiency when you’re revamping your artificial lighting. Spring is a great time to boost your home’s energy efficiency by replacing old, electricity-guzzling incandescent light bulbs with energy-sipping CFLs and LEDs. While these bulbs may cost more to purchase, you’ll save money over their usable life. Energy.gov says these bulbs use 25 to 80 percent less energy than incandescents, and can last three to 25 times longer.

 

Spring Skylight Maintenance

round skylights(BPT) – When spring finally arrives, windows and skylights across the country will open, as happy homeowners revel in all that sunshine and warm, fresh air. But before you can savor spring, you still have weeks of winter to get through. You can use that time wisely to ensure all your home’s windows, skylights and doors are in good working order – and ready for action when spring arrives.

With some simple maintenance of existing windows and skylights – and replacing older models – it’s possible to improve your home’s energy efficiency and appearance, and prep for spring at the same time. While you may be versed in window maintenance, many homeowners are less sure of how to properly care for skylights. VELUX, manufacturer of solar powered fresh air skylights, offers some guidance:

Modern skylights are as durable and efficient as today’s top-quality windows, so maintenance requirements are relatively minimal on newer models. Start by cleaning glass thoroughly. Soak the skylight glass with clean water and mild soap to loosen dirt and debris. Use a mild, non-abrasive glass cleaner and a soft brush or pad to clean the glass, and immediately remove the cleaning solution with a squeegee or lint-free cloth. Never use metal scrapers, blades or knives as they can scratch or damage glass. Use appropriate caution when climbing ladders to reach your skylight. You can find more skylight cleaning tips at www.veluxusa.com.

If your skylights have pre-finished wood frames, inspect them every year before spring and look for signs of peeling, cracking or fading that will need to be re-finished. Re-finish or re-paint as needed following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Check to ensure all exterior fasteners are secure, and that cladding and flashing are free of excessive wear or scratches. Immediately replace damaged claddings and flashings.

For fresh air (venting) skylights, check the mechanism that opens the sash. Open skylights (and then turn off the power if your skylight is electric) and use a clean, dry towel to wipe off the chain. Don’t use cleaner or solvent.

If your skylight has blinds (which improve its overall energy-efficiency), inspect those as well to ensure they’re working properly. If you haven’t yet installed blinds, nowskylights is a good time to do so. Remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allow you to easily open and close a VELUX solar powered fresh air skylight and shade it when the sun touches that part of the roof – improving the skylight’s energy performance rating by as much as 45 percent. And a 30 percent Federal tax credit is available on not only solar powered skylights and blinds but on the installation cost as well.

While maintaining a skylight can extend its useful life, even the best-made product will eventually need replacement. If your home has an older model skylight, replacing it before spring with an ENERGY STAR-qualified model can help improve your home’s overall energy efficiency, prevent leaks and enhance how the skylight looks and functions in your home. And if it happens that you’re having roof replacement work done, dealing with skylights at the same time can save you money.

Installation can often be done in a day and a range of product features ensure you’ll find the energy-efficient skylight and stylish blind that works best with your home. From the latest Clean, Quiet & Safe glass that stays clean longer while reducing outside noise, to SUN TUNNEL tubular skylights that can bring sunshine into lower-level rooms, homeowners have many options for bringing natural light and fresh air into their homes.

Not sure how a skylight will look in your home? Velux offers a free, downloadable skylight planner app.

By adding skylights, taking care of existing units, or replacing older models with ENERGY STAR-qualified solar powered fresh air units, you can help ensure your skylights are ready to let natural light and fresh air in when spring finally arrives.