Green = Green: Window Shopping…Literally

Right now, replacing windows at the back of the house is the focus for a few reasons.  It’s small, not highly visible, and one of the windows by the sliding door had only the inner pane of glass.  Somehow, the previous owner shattered the outside pane, leaving us with this:

Then we went on a hunt for the perfect windows.  In a Utopian world, we could have black windows.  Unfortunately for us, black windows would fade easily on the south-facing front of our house.  So, we’re stuck with white.  Cohesion is the name of the game, so we want the windows to match.  Ideally, Ben wants windows that allow high solar heat gain on the front of the house.  It seems US companies don’t often make these windows.

After checking tons of companies (Anderson and Pella to name a few) we landed right where we did six years ago.  Alside white vinyl sliding and double hung windows; same brand and same line (UltraMaxx) we used at our first house.  Alside makes custom sizes and the prices are about half of the other brands.  We had six years to live with these at the other house and no complaints.  Vinyl is low maintenance, not needing paint or stain.

So what makes these windows green?  Well, they’re Energy Star rated, for starters.

These windows also seal tightly, preventing air infiltration.  Which means your heater or air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard to keep up temperature.

For sunny climates, the solar heat gain coefficient is great.

Aside from the eco standpoint, the windows function well.  Sliding windows open smoothly and quietly.  And the double hung windows allow us to open the top and/or bottom for maximum air flow.

Our slider picture slider windows also have a fun feature.  The picture window also slides and all panels are completely removable.  Cleaning the windows is super easy because of this.  And, if you’ve got a large piece of furniture that won’t fit through the door, pull out all panels and you’ve got a large opening.

The hardware isn’t ugly, either.

We’ll use the same windows throughout the rest of the house, too.  Maybe not the front windows, but we’ll have to see what we can find for those.

Do you have a favorite window brand?  I know some people swear by Anderson.  Are you looking for the perfect window?

P.S.  We were not compensated or perked for this post, we simply love the windows we’ve purchased and want to share with you.

Laboring on Labor Day

Nope, not pregnant.  No new baby here.  I’m talking about windows.  Now that all most of the windows are in, let’s go inside to take a look at the difference the new windows have made.  First, check out the kitchen in all it’s 70’s wallpapered, oak, bay window goodness.

And now with the sliding white window.

Making this window flat lets in so much more light, and the window seems bigger without dividing it into three sections.  Oh, and the fact this window actually opens.  Go figure.  The same can be said for the breakfast nook window.  Before, V and E used the bay window as their personal dance floor/kitchen/play room.

Despite shortening the window, I think it feels more open.  Perhaps not having a mass of dark oak helped?  Whatever it is, I’m liking it.

Just a breath of fresh air to see a lighter, brighter kitchen.  Removing the ugly wallpaper definitely helped.

In the family room, we replaced the two stationary side lights with shorter double hung windows.  Hooray for air flow.  For some reason, I always feel guilty putting furniture in front of windows.  So this arrangement works better for us.

Also, I think the shorter windows feel more intentional and less like “this is a door, but let’s just take off the handles and no one will know.”   The window height actually matches, instead of looking like someone scored a lot of assorted windows on Craigslist and made it work.

Oh, and these windows and doors are so quiet to open and close.  The old door squeaked and squealed.  Ben is a ninja leaving in the mornings now, sneaking out the quiet door.

While window shopping, we discovered most energy-efficient windows have a low visible transmittance thanks to the UV blocking coatings.  This concerned us, because about 50 or 60 percent of light makes it into the house.  Luckily, we don’t see a drastic difference.

To gain egress in the bedrooms, our city requires 5.7 square feet with a minimum opening of 24 inches tall by 20 inches wide within 44 inches of the floor.  The original height of the bedroom windows was fine, but our casement windows only opened about 18 inches by 4 feet.

To use the same brand and line of windows throughout, our only option was a large (4 foot wide by 66 inch tall) double hung window.

Luckily, our windows sit about 19 inches off the floor, so we didn’t have to use tempered glass.  Wahoo for saving a little money.

These are my favorite windows.  I love the cute courtyard feel of the back yard.

And from outside, the windows are almost the same size.

No more awkward bay windows bumping out, either.

Ben used three layers of 2 by 4s to get the windows out.  When he wraps the house in insulation, the siding will sit flush with the edge of the window.  Using the 2 by 4s is a simple and strong way to support the windows while extending for the future insulation layers.

Now to get the insulation on the outside and frame the windows on the inside.  Of course we’ll keep you updated on our progress.

What do you think of the new windows?  Have you gotten new windows recently?  Did it make a world of difference?  Both in looks and monthly savings?

More Doors from Mordor

Okay, the doors didn’t really come from fictitious Lord of the Rings Mordor.  What doors am I talking about?  Two new garage doors.  Our old garage doors were dented, bent, and blue.  Not to mention, they were terribly insulated.  Because the garage is a tuck under, it’s also heated and cooled.  So insulating the space as tightly as possible should save us some money on our monthly heating and cooling bill.

And, I’m pretty sure someone hit each with a car on several occasions, and it wasn’t us.  Basically, the doors had seen better days.  Before getting pricing, I had my eye on a modern style carriage door.  A local garage door company came out and gave us quotes on various door styles.  This style would cost about $1,550 per door, including installation.  Ouch.

Then Ben heard it wasn’t as well insulated at the standard raised panel door.  So it came down to price, efficiency, and the fact that our doors aren’t easily visible from the road.  And the raised panel style won in all departments at $1,650 for both doors, installed.  Two installers came here yesterday to get the job done in a few hours.  Behold, our new, white, well insulated doors.

Sure the doors look better, but we’ve got a lot of exterior work to make those shiny new doors fit in.

But, they’re not dented and that’s what counts.  Haha.  New weather-stripping should help keep mice out of the house, too.

Oh yes, we’ve had a few mice already.  This shouldn’t come as a shock considering the location, but it still grossed me out.  We’ve already caught two (while nibbling our bananas!) and if there were more, they seem to have left.  Ahh, the life of a DIY blogger is glamorous.  Wink.

I’d never really given garage door styles much thought before this.  What about you; do you have a preference?  Or just prefer something functional, regardless of the look?