Get Ready for Winter with a Tinted Window Film

Whether we’re ready or not, winter will arrive before we know it. Higher heating bills are sure to follow. Now is the perfect time to prepare our homes for the cold, so that we can stay cozy this winter without breaking the bank.

Maybe you already know that homes can lose a great deal of heat through their windows; in typical homes, windows are the source of between 25% and 40% of total heat loss. Some of this loss occurs by way of poor seals between window and wall; checking around windows for drafts, and sealing any gaps with caulk or weatherstripping, is always a worthwhile fall task.

Heat loss can also occur through the glass itself. An untreated pane of glass conducts heat easily, allowing it to transfer from your interior to exterior, and vice-versa. This heat transfer makes it harder for your heater to maintain a warm, comfortable temperature when it’s icily cold outside. The harder your heater has to work, the higher your energy bill will be.

For some, upgrading from single-pane to double-pane windows is the answer. The extra pane of glass provides a buffer between inside and out, greatly increasing the insulation power of your windows. Less precious winter heat will be lost, and heating costs will be reduced. But for many homeowners, replacing single-pane windows for double-pane is also too expensive. A much more budget-friendly option is to apply a tinted film to your windows.

Many of today’s window tints feature a low-E coating; low-E is short for low emissivity, meaning the coating restricts the emission of heat. In the summertime, exterior heat is not allowed to pass through the coating, but is instead reflected away; in wintertime, this same reflectivity keeps heat on the interior of the window. Both kinds of reflectivity help to maintain interior temperatures, minimizing the need for heating or cooling.

As a general rule, an effective window tint can improve a single-pane window’s insulating properties to be comparable to a double-pane window. A double-pane window could deliver insulation comparable to a triple pane window. Better yet: The cost of installing tinted film is a lot less than the cost of replacement windows.

In addition to reflecting away heat, modern tints can also block out UV rays – these are the rays that can harm us and fade away the color in our carpets and furniture. 3M Prestige window tints, for example, can reject up to 99% of the sun’s UV rays. That’s great news for your skin as well as your furnishings.

There is one thing that today’s window tints don’t often feature: a dark tone. Most tints are designed to perform without darkening the appearance of your windows or blocking out the view or natural light that you love. With today’s tints, the reduction of brightness and natural light is a choice, and not a necessity. 3M Prestige films are available in a number of options that allow you to choose how much natural light passes through.

More comfort for less cost – that’s something to aspire to this fall and winter. If your windows aren’t up to the challenge, consider giving them some extra insulation with a tinted window film.

Renovating Your Home To Age In Place

As technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, we are being presented with more options to improve the quality of our lives. One idea that is increasing in popularity is “aging in place” – or “universal design”. These terms are representative of changes one can make to a home to ensure they can continue to live there well into their senior years, or perhaps even indefinitely. There are lots of good things about aging in place. Elderly people that can continue to live in their own home are often much happier. It brings personal freedom, dignity, and the ability to continue living in a familiar community.

The main focus behind this new idea is all about providing the best quality of life available to seniors as they age. This means all the various components of that person’s life. Their personal relationships and ability to socialize, their ability to get around the community they live in, their health, finances, and what we’ll focus on in this article – the design of the place they live in. However, a plan for aging in place should not only focus on the design of a home. It should take a broad approach to all aspects of life that can be planned for ahead of time to improve someone’s quality of life as they age.

As time inevitably rolls on, our bodies age, and with this our personal capabilities often deteriorate. Common experiences for the elderly are things like decreased mobility, reduced hearing and vision, and an impaired immune system. The good news is that there are lots of things you can update within a home to help out with this, and people are coming out with new products and features to steadily improve on previous ideas every day.

aging in place

Some common improvements people make to a home to assist them as they age are adding a built-in seat to their shower or a walk-in tub to reduce the risk of slips in the shower. A cheaper option is a shower seat, readily available online or at you local superstore. A common improvement you’re likely familiar with is a stair glide or chair life. These are great for seniors with bad knees or heart conditions, and make staying in a home with two or more floors much easier.

One major improvement that you might not immediately think about is a no-step entryway to a home. Entering and exiting a home can be cumbersome, and removing stairs from the equation greatly reduces the risk of falling down. This can be a huge improvement for seniors with bad knees or hips. Sometimes a no-step entryway might not be a great fit for the front door. If this is the case, you could consider converting a patio door or window instead.

Many people also widen the entrance of the entryway when they add a no-step option. Narrow doorways can be a major hassle if you’re trying to fit a walker or wheelchair through it. When considering widening your doorway, it’s important you speak to a company that offers a custom fit for your front door, like Mr. Rogers Windows and Doors or Renewal by Andersen. A one-size-fits-all solution will not apply here, so you’ll want to consult a company that can provide you with a customized solution.

Some other things you can add to an entryway to improve the quality of live of a senior is non-slip flooring in the entrance (to prevent slips if their feet are wet), sensors to automatically turn on lights when someone is outside of the house, a peephole that is lower on the door to be viewed more easily when using a wheelchair or walker, and improvements to the sidewalk that leads up to the house. All of these might seem like minor details, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts here, and these changes can greatly improve a senior’s life as they continue to age.

Should You Buy a Portable Generator?

There are many reasons to buy portable generators, but that doesn’t mean that everyone ought to own one. Before you purchase a generator, you’ll want to have a clear idea about when, where, and how you’ll want to use it. Then you’ll want to balance that use against what you’ll need to pay to get it.

You may end up wondering why it took you so long to get the portable generator you always needed, or you may find that the right generator for the job is simply too expensive. Most of us, however, are finding it harder and harder to be disconnected in the event of an outage; as a result, portable generators are becoming more common than ever.

A $1200 portable home generator might offer 2000 watts of power, which would be ideal for refrigerators, microwaves, small air conditioners, and an array of the smaller devices you need to stay connected. This generator would be light and compact enough to carry, making it an option to use away from the home as well; you could, for example, bring it along when you camp or tailgate. A typical running time might be eight hours for each fueling.

Powering household systems such as heat pumps or water heaters requires a larger generator – 4000 watts at a bare minimum, but more likely 5000 to 7000 watts. A 5000-watt whole-home generator might run about $2500. This generator would be too heavy to carry, but would likely feature wheels that make it easy to move short distances. In addition to more power, this generator would also be able to run for longer periods – perhaps 16 hours between fueling.

Depending on what you plan to power, you may be perfectly content to plug your devices directly into an outlet on your generator. But this isn’t always convenient. Exhaust fumes requires generators to operate outdoors. Connecting household devices may require you to run long extension cords throughout your house and outside to the generator.

One thing you can’t do is plug your generator into a household outlet. This is unsafe, for more reasons than we can list here. If you want to safely power your whole home, you’ll need to install a proper connection – either an interlock kit or a transfer switch. Both of these connections can also allow you to power select areas of your home. Neither is particularly expensive, but both will require the services of a professional electrician. Between equipment and labor, both types of connections will cost a few hundred dollars.

Let’s recap. A generator that can travel with you won’t be big enough to power your home, but will let you power many essentials in it. A generator that can power your home will be too big to travel and will cost at least twice as much as a smaller portable. If you want to power your home (or provide power to outlets), you’ll also need to install either an interlock kit or a transfer switch. Clearly backup power has its price, but when staying connected is no longer an option, it’s a price worth paying.

The Differences Between Bay & Bow Windows, Explained

If you’re planning to replace a window in a large window opening, you may find yourself considering both bay and bow windows. These two window types have a lot in common, and both have a lot to recommend them. But these two window styles also have more differences than most homeowners realize; only after you understand these differences will you know if a bay or a bow window is a better fit for you and your home.

First, let’s look at the similarities. Both bay and bow windows are large, and are made even more so by extending outward from the home. Both visually expand interior space, and both create additional, usable interior space; this space can be used for storage or as an inviting, window-side nook for reading or relaxing. By extending outward, bay and bow windows also provide more light and wider views.

While both windows look similar at first glance, bay windows are simpler in design than their counterparts. Bay windows are a set of three windows grouped together; bow windows include a set of at least four, and often five or six windows together. Renewal by Andersen of Central NC features a nice selection of both types of windows.

Bay windows feature a large, central window that runs parallel to the walls of the home; this large window is flanked by two smaller ones, which extend outward from the house, usually at angles of 30 or 45 degrees. The large window will be a fixed picture window; the two flanking windows may be able to open. Thanks to their angular appearance, bay windows are often paired with more contemporary homes.

Bow windows are composed of smaller windows of the same size. These windows curve away from the home in angles that vary, depending on the design; the more windows that compose the bow, the smaller and softer the angle. Generally speaking, bow windows don’t extend as far from the home as bay windows. All of these qualities grant bow windows a more graceful and symmetrical appearance than their counterparts; this appearance is a great fit for both modern and Victorian homes.

These differences in design can often dictate which window is the best choice for you. Because bay windows are composed of only three windows, they can be accommodated by narrower window openings; bow windows, that include as many as six windows, require wider openings. On the other hand, bow windows, which do not extend as far out as bay windows, may be tied into houses with shallower overhangs.

These differences in design also yield a difference in price. As bow windows include a larger set of windows, it isn’t surprising that they’re the more expensive option; their elegantly-curved construction also requires a higher degree of craftsmanship, which also contributes to additional cost.

That said, both bay and bow windows can become focal points of your home’s interior and exterior. Both types of windows can expand your view, add natural light, and open up spaces. But chances are, one’s a smarter choice for you. Which one is it? Hopefully now you’re well on your way to the answer, and to finding the perfect window for your home.