Considering an Energy Audit? Get Informed

Overconsumption of energy is a problem that plagues many homeowners. Wasting energy can hurt homeowners’ bottom lines and the planet. But many homeowners aren’t aware just how much energy their homes are consuming and even wasting. That’s why a home energy audit can be so important.
Considering an Energy Audit? Get Informed
A home energy audit or assessment investigates just how much energy a home consumes so homeowners can make their homes more energy efficient. Audits identify where energy is being wasted and can offer suggestions to fix the problem.

The U.S. Department of Energy advises that the average U.S. household consumes around 90 million btus in a year. Of the energy used in homes, nearly 50 percent goes to heating and cooling. Water heating, appliances, electronics, and lighting account for the remaining consumption. Consumers can save between 5 and 30 percent on home energy bills by getting a home energy audit and making the adjustments advised by auditors.

There are two types of energy audits: professional and do-it-yourself. Professional auditors will go room-to-room to assess a home’s energy use. Typical testing includes thermographic scans and infrared cameras to determine air leakage and insulation; a blower door test, which depressurizes the home and simulates the effect of a 20 mph wind to find air leaks; and watt meter measurements to test energy usage by various devices throughout the house.

Before an auditor comes to the house, homeowners can make a list of any problems or concerns they want to discuss with the auditor. The auditor also may interview the homeowner to learn about how the home normally runs and can analyze energy bills to determine typical energy consumption. Windows, doors, HVAC systems, insulation, fireplaces, and lighting fixtures all may be assessed during a professional audit.

Even though a professional audit is usually the best way to determine where a home is losing energy, homeowners can conduct their own audits to detect and fix problems. Locating and sealing air leaks, addressing inadequate ventilation, checking that insulation levels and vapor barriers are at recommended levels, and inspecting HVAC systems should be part of any DIY audit. If a heating/cooling unit is more than 15 years old, the DOE suggests having it replaced with a newer, energy-efficient unit.

An energy audit can identify areas around a home where improvements can be made to reduce energy consumption and waste. Upgrading to new appliances, replacing light bulbs, sealing drafts, improving insulation, and addressing moisture and water leaks can be good for the environment and help homeowners save money.

American Awnings & Replacement Windows can help you conserve energy in a variety of ways. We offer many Energy Star qualified replacement window solutions, that over time, will pay for themselves in energy savings. We are also the best source for retractable awnings in Shippensburg, Chambersburg, Hagerstown, and surrounding areas. During the warmer months of the year, a retractable awning can help reduce the amount of sun entering your home, thus saving you money in cooling costs. Contact us today to learn more!

Window Guards Save Kids’ Lives

The weather is warming and that means windows are being opened to let in fresh air and warm breezes. The advantages to open windows are many. But one particular disadvantage is the safety hazard open windows present to young children.
Window Guards Save Kids' Lives
More than 5,000 American children are injured each year after falling out of windows, says the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Two-thirds of these children are toddlers, and a quarter of all injured are hurt seriously enough to require hospital admittance.

Montreal Children’s Hospital says they treat roughly 10 children a year who have fallen from a window. Due to toddlers’ high center of gravity (a head that is particularly heavy), most topple over and land head-first, which can have devastating effects.

Falls from windows can cause serious injuries and even death. However, the accidents are largely preventable. Many recall the tragic 1991 incident when musician Eric Clapton’s son, Conor, fell to his death from an apartment 49 stories up in a Manhattan highrise. Conor, age 4, allegedly darted past a housekeeper who had left the window open after cleaning and fell out of the window. The song “Tears in Heaven” was subsequently written by Clapton for his son.

Children are often insatiable in their curiosity and desire to see what is happening in the world around them. Goings-on outdoors can be fascinating, and it is not farfetched to see children leaning up against windows and screens to get a better view of outdoors. A window screen can easily dislodge and provides no barrier from a fall.

Parents and guardians of young children should add window protection to the list of safety gear they use to childproof a home. There are many varieties of window guards that attach to windows and provide a measure of security against falls. Some of these safety devices are bars or grills that install into place but can be easily removed by an adult in the event the window needs to be used as an emergency evacuation point. Window gates can be used on larger, swing-out windows to form a barrier for children. There are also locks and latches that restrict how much a window can be opened.

Some areas of the country have made it law to have window guards on second story windows where children under age 10 are in residence, particularly highrise apartment buildings. Even falls from ground-floor windows can cause injuries. It’s important to check with a landlord or with a municipal office about the requirements with regard to window guards.

In addition to the installation of window guards, there are other safety steps that help prevent window-related falls.

  • Keep furniture away from windows. Children can climb on the furniture and have better access to windows.
  • Keep beds away from windows, especially in a child’s bedroom. Children may horse around on a bed and bounce through an open window if the bed and window are not far apart.
  • Routinely inspect the hardware and construction of the window to ensure it is secure. Periodically check the fit of a window guard to make sure it is properly installed.
  • Do not open windows wide in children’s rooms. A few inches is all that’s needed for fresh air.
  • Make sure children know they are not allowed to play next to open windows or to try to climb up to windows.

Home Improvements That Increase Home Value

When granite countertops or shiny, stainless steel appliances beckon homeowners from the display areas of home improvement stores, it’s tempting to gear remodeling thoughts toward the items that will add flair and decorative appeal to a home. Even though most improvements add some measure of value, deciding which are the best investments can be difficult.
Home Improvements That Increase Home Value
Return on investment, often referred to as “ROI,” varies depending on the project. Frequently, the projects that seem like the best investments don’t bring the greatest rate of return, while those that seem like smaller projects bring substantial returns. Real estate professionals routinely weigh in with their expert advice, and homeowners can couple that advice with Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Index” to reap the greatest financial impact from their renovations.

The following were some of the projects that garnered the greatest ROI in 2016.

• Open the door to improvement. Region by region across the United States, installation of a new steel door on the front of a home can have a large impact on the resale value of a property. The ROI ranges from 123 percent at the highest, to 86 percent at the lowest — which is still a considerable investment return for such a simple project. Match the door’s style with the style of the house for the best value.

• Turn up the kitchen heat. An attractive kitchen can encourage buyers to overlook some of a home’s less attractive components. In the kitchen, replacement countertops, wall color changes, new cabinetry and flooring offer the biggest ROI.

• Dreaming of a new bedroom. Remodeling magazine also points to creating an attic bedroom to increase home value. The ROI of an attic remodel that adheres to code can garner an 83 percent ROI.

• Home maintenance projects. There’s little good to improving the aesthetic appeal and functionality of a home if there are existing structural or maintenance issues, warn experts. Siding replacement, HVAC system repair or replacement, a new roof, and basement dampness prevention solutions can be smarter investments before other flashy remodels. Many buyers have a strict budget for a house, and those buyers may be more likely to buy a house with little or no maintenance issues. Such buyers will then upgrade the kitchen or baths themselves, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

• Worthy window replacement. Angie’s List, a home services review and referral resource, has found that the average ROI of new windows is 77 percent. The cost of installation and energy savings tend to offset at around the 10-year point.

If remodeling is on the horizon, homeowners should give strong consideration to ROI before choosing a project.

Project Corner: Window Awning & Replacement Window Installation

Recently we installed some amazing window awnings for a customer along with replacement windows just in time for winter. We were half the cost of their other bids, and the customer was very happy with the finished project. Check out the before and after photos below.

Window Awning Project - BeforeWindow Awning Project - After

Replacement windows are always a smart investment, especially when winter is looming. When your existing windows become old and inefficient, air leaks can cause the indoor temperature to drop. Not to mention the energy being consumed by your heating/cooling system while it struggles to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home.

Just because winter is officially here doesn’t mean it’s too late to upgrade your home’s inefficient windows. At American Awnings, Roofing & Windows, we ensure your home will remain warm and pleasant during the installation process. We take the necessary steps to keep the cold air out and make the installation process as quick and painless as possible.

If you’re considering replacement windows for your home or office, contact us today to receive your FREE quote!

Bring More Natural Light Into a Home

Maximizing natural light in a home is a smart and sometimes low-cost renovation. Homes that are dark and drab can drain energy levels and reduce productivity. In addition, dark rooms may not be inviting places to gather as a family or when entertaining.
Bring More Natural Light Into a Home
Certain factors contribute to a dark home. Houses that face north or east may not get the same level of sunlight as those that primarily face south and west. Geographic location also plays a role in the amount of natural sunlight. Mountains, buildings and even latitude can affect the amount of natural light that enters a home.

The style of a home and its attributes also may create dark conditions. Deep house eaves as well as small windows or too few windows also can contribute to a deficit of light indoors. A major remodel certainly can remedy the situation. However, there also are other less-extensive strategies to improve natural light.

• Assess the situation before renovating. Walk around the house and determine which rooms get the most light and which conditions may be contributing to the problem in other areas. Dark floors and walls may be absorbing natural light and compounding the situation. You may find that only one or two rooms need attention, saving you the cost and effort associated with a major home overhaul.

• Lighten up window treatments. Heavy drapes or thick blinds can be replaced with translucent alternatives. Translucent shades will allow light into the room without compromising privacy, say the experts at HGTV.

• Use mirrors strategically. A mirror placed opposite a window will reflect light all around the room. This can make a small room seem larger and a dark space instantly brighter.

• Install new windows and doors. If the budget allows, installing larger windows in a home will allow more natural light in. French doors or sliding doors also may make a home’s interior more bright. Think about adding windows to a side of the house that has none, or increase the size of the windows on the side of the house that gets the most light.

• Maximize sunlight from above. Skylights will bring light into a home as the sun passes overhead. Tubular skylights can bring natural sunlight into spaces where you may not expect skylights to be practical. According to Houzz, a design and architectural resource, tubular daylighting devices, or TDDs, can make a big difference. TDDs are reflective pipes installed between the roof and ceiling, with a clear plastic dome.

• Use reflective decor. Reflective surfaces, including glass and metal, can brighten up a room and diffuse light around a room. Glossy backsplashes, pendant lighting and shiny metal that reflect light can increase the natural light, balancing out dark spaces.

• Prune trees regularly. Cut back branches and keep trees tidy to maximize sunlight. Avoid planting tall shrubbery in front of windows.

• Routinely clean windows and glass doors. Dirt and other grime can prevent light from getting through. Regularly give windows a thorough washing.

Natural light is an important commodity in a home. Sunlight can improve mood and go a long way toward keeping home occupants healthy and happy.

Get Ready for Winter With Replacement Windows

Return on investment, often referred to as “ROI,” varies depending on the project. Frequently, the projects that seem like the best investments don’t bring the greatest rate of return, while those that seem like smaller projects bring substantial returns. Real estate professionals routinely weigh in with their expert advice, and homeowners can couple that advice with Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Index” to reap the greatest financial impact from their renovations.
Get Ready for Winter With Replacement Windows
In preparation for this upcoming winter, replacement windows are a worthy investment. Angie’s List, a home services review and referral resource, has found that the average ROI of new windows is 77 percent. The cost of installation and energy savings tend to offset at around the 10-year point.

On average, 25% of a home’s heat escapes through its windows. If you notice your furnace constantly running or a cold draft in certain areas of your home, you might consider replacing your current windows with a better fitting, more energy efficient window solution.

At American Awnings, Roofing & Windows, we install and service a huge selection of replacement windows including Bow Style, Bay Style, Vinyl Double Hung, Picture, Slider, Geometric, Casement, Awning, and Garden Windows. We also offer a variety of glass, grid, and color options for you to choose from.