Archives for Renovations

Guide to Energy Efficient Window Labels

A house with old, single-paned windows can be a source of drafty air, especially in the wintertime. Even worse, they can be rough on a home’s energy efficiency, making your wallet take a hard hit when it comes to winter utility costs.

Replacing old, outdated windows is one of the most effective ways to invest in long-term energy savings. While the initial investment in replacement windows may feel overwhelming, modern energy efficient windows are well worth the price, and offer significant month-to-month savings.

Choosing the right replacement windows can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t understand all the information, numbers, and acronyms on the labels. Whether you plan to purchase your new windows online or in the store, window labels are a key source of information, making it easy to compare different models. Deciphering the label information will enable you to make an informed decision and make a wise window investment.

Understanding Window Labels

Use this information to help you analyze window label info with this handy guide.

Manufacturer’s Labels

One section of the window label contains specs from the manufacturer. It will usually include the model number of the specific window design. Other features the manufacturer’s label might include are:

The material used in frame construction. Common frame materials include aluminum, wood, vinyl, and fiberglass.

Number of panes. The manufacturer’s label should specify if the windows are single, double, or triple paned. The more panes a model has, the more protected your home is from the cold air outside.

Multi-pane windows contain gas in the spaces between the panes. The type of gas used should be listed on the label. Argon and krypton are common gases used in modern energy efficient windows.

Some models feature panes treated to protect your furniture, carpet, and drapes from harmful UV rays. Over time, UV exposure can cause fading. Low-E is a common glass treatment that helps filter harmful ultraviolet light.

The NFRC Label

Modern windows also contain a 4-5 digit NFRC rating. The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) calculates this rating. This independent organization evaluates windows and skylights. The HFRC number allows you to easily compare key characteristics of different window models. These characteristics include:

Visible Transmittance. This is a measurement of how much light a specific window allows to pass through. Higher visual transmittance means more light will enter your home. This could help save on electrical costs for artificial lighting and can also help your home feel more comfortable and inviting.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. This number indicates how effectively the window blocks outside heat. The lower the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, the more the new windows will save you on your summer cooling bills.

U Factor. The U Factor indicates how effectively the window traps heat inside your home. Lower U Factors are desirable, indicating greater energy efficiency during cold winter months.

Air Leakage.  This number measures how tightly the windows are sealed.  A lower number means the window will let in less air from outside.

Energy Star Label

Windows that meet certain performance criteria will feature the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label. These windows meet specific levels of energy efficiency for specific regions of the United States.

Because homeowners in cold climates need different window properties than those in warmer climates, there is no one-size-fits-all window model. Energy Star criteria also differ for different climates, reflecting the specific energy needs of homeowners in the area. The EPA divides the country into four distinct regions, Northern, North-Central, South-Central and Southern, and windows are rated according to each region based on NFRC measurements for U Factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.

Consult the Professionals

If you want more information about how you can make your home more energy efficient and lower your utility bills, contact a local professional. A local HVAC technician can evaluate your home’s energy efficiency and suggest steps to help increase efficiency.

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Why You Should Hire a Licensed HVAC Technician

licensed havac technicianReplacing an old HVAC unit with a newer, more energy efficient model can result in huge savings on your monthly energy bill. Recent advancement in HVAC technology has made newer units more effective and efficient. However, installing a new unit is not a weekend DIY project. If you are considering any type of upgrade to your system, make sure to use a professional licensed contractor.

State and local building codes impose many regulations regarding HVAC installation. These codes are in place to ensure standards of safety. Using a reputable licensed contractor or technician is necessary to ensure all codes are met. Otherwise, you could be liable code violations, safety failings, or flaws in the installation of your new unit.

Hefty fines accompany code violations, so you’ll want to be careful.


Licensed HVAC Technicians Understand Building Codes


To the uninitiated, state and local building codes look like a huge collection of complex and arbitrary rules. Building codes deal with everything from size and ventilation requirements to electrical wiring. In some localities, the municipal building code can be thousands of pages of detailed rules and procedures.

State and local governments don’t put together these complex codes just to give homeowners a headache. Safety is actually the motivation behind the large number of rules in the code book. Therefore, compliance is important, especially when it comes to HVAC installation. Because you are dealing with combustible chemicals and toxic coolants in your HVAC unit, it is particularly important to find a contractor who follows code to the letter.


Licensed HVAC Technicians Avoid Shortcuts


Installing a new HVAC unit is expensive, and it can be tempting to cut corners to save some money. Be wary of any contractor who takes shortcuts or ignores code. Also, make sure that your contractor pulls together all the necessary permits and paperwork and also schedules a final official inspection.

Even though an unlicensed contractor may be cheaper, it could cost you more in the long run. A shoddy, sub-par installation will result in a system that runs inefficiently or is even a potential safety hazard. Plus, there is the possibility of incurring a fine when your HVAC unit doesn’t meet code.


Ultimately, You Are Responsible for Code Violations


Even when a contractor does a substandard job on your HVAC installation, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for any violations to the building code. As the homeowner, you will have to correct anything not installed properly. Usually, this means finding another qualified contractor to finish the job properly or fix any mistakes.

Not only will you be responsible for fixing any code violations, you can also be held legally responsible for injuries a sub-par HVAC installation might cause to occupants or guests.

To avoid paying fines or footing the bill for inefficient HVAC installation, you should always hire a professional. However, don’t just shop around for the best price. Never settle for anything less than a licensed HVAC technician. A licensed professional is more likely to follow code and perform a thorough job. Otherwise, they risk losing their license. By hiring a licensed technician, you also have more options available to you in the event the work is not performed to standard since you can file a complaint with the local municipal authorities or professional organizations.

Once you have hired a licensed HVAC technician to install your new unit, be sure to request copies of all required permits and other paperwork. You will want to keep these on file for future reference.


Have It Done Right the First Time by a Licensed HVAC Technician


Hiring a licensed HVAC technician at the very beginning of the installation process helps safeguard you against having to fix improperly done work later. Even though it may cost more money to hire a fully licensed professional, it will potentially save you the cost of repairing improper equipment or installation. With a licensed professional you can have peace of mind the job will be done right the first time.

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