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?

Hit the FLOR

I love me some chevron these days.  As you may recall, I recently painted a chevron pattern rug.  And now, I’m drooling over this new pattern from FLOR.

Yep, more chevron!  I was wondering when FLOR would jump on the proverbial bandwagon.  Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Amanda and I’ll be your captain for the day.  Please welcome our newest member, FLOR.  Welcome to the chevron bandwagon, please enjoy the trend while it lasts.  Thank you and have a great day!

Now that I got that out of my system, let’s move on.  I’m loving the pattern and the $12.99 price tag isn’t too bad, either.  So, what’s stopping me from buying this beauty?  My children (and I’m cheap)!  We already have two rugs made up of FLOR tiles, but they get everything dirty.  True, you can remove a single tile to wash or replace, depending on the soil level, but I’ll stick with my current rugs until my boys can be trusted.

The Sophistikat pattern isn’t the only new design I’m lovin’.  Check out these puppies.

Posh Croc is a nice subtle pattern at $14.99 per tile.

Road to Damaskus (love the punny name!) is a pretty pattern that will set you back $12.99.

Faux Bois by Ms. Martha Stewart herself is $19.99 per tile.

How about Lattice by Martha?  Only $18.99 per tile.

FLOR designs have come a loooong way.  I remember when they had only solid colors in a few textures.  Ahh, those weren’t the days…

Green Equals Green: Cloth Napkins

Today is the start of a new series: tips and ideas to help you live a greener life style, while saving some green.  Some ideas are super simple to carry out and very cheap (level 1), while others are slightly more difficult, but a knowledgeable DIYer could tackle (level 2).  Others are best left to the professionals (level 3), but all showcase eco-friendly options. 

Our first idea is a level 1, so easy a cave man can do it.  Let’s say a family of four uses 1 roll of paper towels every two weeks, at the price of $1.17 per roll (if you buy the cheapest paper towels in bulk from Costco).  The total spent in one year on paper towels (used only as napkins) is $30.42.  If you want to do something a little more eco-friendly, but still use paper towels, you can  buy Seventh Generation Recycled paper towels.  If you opt for this route, you’ll spend $46.54 per year. 

Compare those prices to $1.99 for four cloth napkins from IKEA, ours are IRIS, but I can’t find them online.  Our napkins are white with a subtle checker board pattern.  I chose not to buy pretty napkins, as they’ll look ugly after one use, but I love not having to buy a ton of paper towels.  I think the Earth loves us, too. 

If you don’t have an IKEA, you can always buy fabric and make your own.  Definitely invest in at least 8, so you always have some on hand.  Just throw them in the wash with a full load and reuse!