Monday, October 8, 2012

Home improvements that help save energy year-round

Home improvements that help save energy year-round

Want to save more of your hard-earned paycheck? Conduct a quick home improvement checkup to look for potential maintenance needs that can help you save energy year-round.

"Take time now to inspect your home for potentially energy-wasting areas," says Kathy Krafka Harkema,  "Check major systems that help protect your house - the roof, gutters, siding, exterior finish, windows, doors, foundation and steps, plus interior components like heating, cooling, chimney and electrical systems."

Look for obvious signs of deterioration, damage or potential problems, Krafka Harkema advises. Replace or repair worn or broken items before they can lead to more extensive or expensive repair needs.

Increase curb appeal

One quick way to help improve energy efficiency and curb appeal is to install a new ENERGY STAR-qualified entry door or storm door. Pella's new low-maintenance entry doors offer many styles designed for virtually any budget.

"Fiberglass entry door systems offer the look of a wood-grain door but with the energy efficiency, and durability and low-maintenance of fiberglass," says Steve Brenizer.

Look for wood-grain fiberglass entry doors for exceptional energy efficiency. "Choose a factory prefinished entry door for a consistent look and to save your precious time," Brenizer says.

Inspect windows, doors

When checking your home's windows and doors, inspect interior and exterior finishes around them. Is the paint or stain in good condition? Signs of flaking and peeling or water stains may mean that it's time to refinish or replace the unit.

Next, check windowsills and tracks for dirt and debris like sand, leaves, insects or pine needles. Open windows and doors to clean out the area with a soft brush like a dry paintbrush. Debris can hamper the airtight effectiveness and overall performance of doors and windows.

“Look at the weather stripping around doors and windows, reattach loose pieces, and replace those that are ripped to help enhance your home's energy efficiency,” Krafka Harkema adds.

Finally, feel for uneven sliding or sticking when you open and close a window. Try using a non-oily lubricant, like paraffin wax, on opposing finishes to help it move easier.

If you are wondering if your windows have passed their expiration, consider these 10 signs it's time to replace them:

1. Overall poor performance - Opening or closing is a difficult task and air leaks in, out or around the window

2. In a fog - Condensation or fogging occurs between panes of glass

3. Chipping away - Chipping, peeling or deterioration on the finish on or around the window

4. Singled out - You have a home with single-pane windows, much less energy efficient than double- or triple-pane options

5. Water logged - Telltale water stains remain on the leaky window or the area around the window (inside or out)

6. Out-of-date - Replacement parts are hard to find or even non-existent

7. Energy hog - Energy bills are on the rise, so it's time to help increase your home's energy efficiency

8. Draft dodger - You can feel cold air or drafts when sitting near the window ... and it's closed

9. Shut in - Windows are painted or nailed shut

10. Simply put - Window won't open easily or won't stay in place once you open it

Don't suffer through another winter with a drafty door or a window that whistles in the wind. Windows and doors can be replaced year-round. (ARA)

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