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Key Features of Energy-Saving Windows

Heating and cooling costs account for almost half of total energy expense of a home. There are various ways to reduce this expense. The first step is to install energy efficient air conditioning devices. Proper insulation in the walls, ceiling, floor and door is necessary to prevent heat transfer. Homeowners need to install energy-saving windows. These windows are designed to reduce heat transfer. Now there are energy-saving windows that are made with very advanced technologies:

Tinted Glass

The glass of the window is coated with a heat reflective material. This reflective coating can be a thin coat of metal oxide or tinted film sheet. A tinted window glass prevents the UV rays of the sun from entering the house. It lets in the natural light so there is no need to use artificial lighting in the room during the daytime. There are different grades of coatings and films with varying levels of heat emissivity and light passivity properties. The tinted coating or film sheet with the right level of tinting is used according to the required level of heat and light in the room.

Gas Between the Window Glass Panes

The window in this case is made of two or three panes of glasses. A type of inert gas like argon or krypton is filled between the glass panes. This gas prevents transfer of heat from one side to the other. This technique proves useful in preventing loss of indoor heat or cold. The outdoor heat or cold cannot enter the room as well. This type of window offers high level of thermal efficiency. The daylight is not blocked because it is a clear window without any shading.


Metal window frames are not very effective in thermal efficiency. Energy efficient windows use spacers made of low conductive material made of polymer structural foam. It prevents transfer of heat and condensation. The spacer creates a large thermal barrier. Special “warm edge” spacers have little or no metal and offer higher energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency of a window depends not only on glasses but also on other window components. The type of frame, gasket and sealant used in glazing the window affect its energy efficiency property. It is important to hire an experienced windows installer to ensure the installed window meets high energy efficiency standards. Premium quality energy-saving windows, such as these replacement windows from Renewal by Andersen, reflect away both UV rays and infrared heat spectrum. The initial cost of these windows can be high but the investment is recovered within a few months in reduced energy bills.

A window can be designed using multiple energy saving techniques to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Homeowners should know how to determine the energy efficiency of a window. The energy rating value of a window is measured in U-values. This rating indicates how much heat can pass through a material. Lower number indicates higher energy efficiency. Some energy-saving windows can be more energy efficient even with high U-value. These windows have high overall energy efficiency rating due to use of multiple techniques like tinted coating, gas filled glass panes, and low conductive framing materials.

Rooms equipped with any such window may require controlled ventilation to prevent condensation buildup on the window glass panes. Blocking sun heat and UV rays helps prevent fading of window accessories, draperies, blinds, and other home items like furniture and furnishings. Proper selection of energy-saving windows helps reduce cooling, heating and lighting costs.

A Non-Nonsense Guide for Planning A Backyard Fence Build

So you are tired of that baron space on your property or simply want some privacy and decided to have a fence built? While building a fence can be a great idea, there are also some hoops you need to jump through and a bit of planning that needs to take place before you make it all happen.

In this no-nonsense fence installation planning guide we are going to walk though the checklist of all the most important things you need to consider before starting on your project. I picked up many of these tips from  a Houston Fence builder but the same rules apply no matter where you live.

fence photo houston

Clearing Your Property Line

The first thing you are going to want to do is make sure you are able to build a fence on your property at all. Before you start planning you should always contact your homeowners association if applicable or local building department to find out if there are any restrictions to building a fence in your neighborhood.

Some common restrictions you may run into include height, style, and location of the fence to be built on your property.

Once you have confirmed you can build at all its time to clear your property lines. To do this you need to locate your property markers. If you don’t have physical markers you will need to check your plat map for your land.

*Tip: Its always a good idea to review this with your adjacent neighbors as well to make sure there are no disagreements.

You are going to want to make sure there are no utility lines running through the path you want to have your fence installed that you are going to run into. This includes but not limited to cable, gas and water lines.

Selecting a Type of Fence

Different fencing materials have much different properties such as durability, privacy and prices. Because a fence is a long term investment its always smart to do your homework on things like how much maintenance wood fences require.

Fence materials can typically be separated into three groups so I recommend deciding between these first and then refining your choice from there.

  • Natural Wood Fences
  • Vinyl Fences
  • Metal Fences


Plan ahead both where you are going to need gates as well as what you will need to be able to bring through them. Some people simply need gates large enough to walk through while others want to be able to drive cars or trailers through if necessary. Plan ahead for if your needs may change in the future.

Chat with Neighbors

Its always a good idea to talk to your neighbors about the project you are planning. This is especially true for neighborhoods where houses are closer together. Nobody appreciates having a work crew show up one day without knowing about it within feet of their property lines.


Building a fence is unfortunately not once of the cheaper projects you can do around your home or yard. It takes a lot of manual labor as well as materials to get the job done so budgeting for the build is super important. Start planning for how you will be playing for your new fence as early as possible and ask your installer if the price and work is guaranteed. Its also never a bad idea to shop around for a special offer on a specific style or material so long as it fits your needs.

While having a fence installed on your property can be a long and daunting task, planning it out and following the right steps will make everything a lot easier. Talk to a fencing company and a friend or relative who has gone through the process before to get tips from them as well.

Good luck on your next project!








Finding the Right Carpet Cleaner for the Job

If you’ve got a dog, and a yard with too many bare spots, you probably know a thing or two about dirty carpets.

I also know that I like a neat home, so for years, I’ve been cleaning my carpets with my own cleaning machine. I thought it worked well-enough; my carpet looked much better after one of my cleanings – free from stains, and sporting a nicer looking pile.

I’d begin each cleaning by filling my machine’s tank up with nearly a gallon of warm water and detergent. I’d apply the solution to the carpet, and scrub. Then I’d then try to lift the solution out of the carpet and back into my machine. Over time, I noticed a problem: I wasn’t pulling more than a few ounces of dirty solution back into my machine; which meant that almost a gallon was still left in my carpeting.

If you’ve ever looked at the darkly dirty solution you pull out of your carpet, you’ll understand why that might be disturbing. I need to find something, or someone, who could do a better job on my carpets.

Looking up carpet cleaners online can be bewildering. That’s because many of them use different methods, and just about all of them say they’re the best. But after you look at a few, you start to realize that they often tout different benefits of their cleaning methods. The key is to find the cleaner that offers the benefits you want, with a minimum of drawbacks that you don’t.

Up above, I mentioned that I have a dog. The ideal carpet cleaner will do right by my little buddy, and will offer a treatment that’s non-toxic and safe for pets. Not all companies make the claim to be non-toxic (or green or eco-friendly or child-safe), but this carpet cleaning company does.

I also discovered that some methods – steam cleaning, for example – use more water than others; these are “wet” methods. Other methods require less moisture, and are considered to be “dry.” Let’s take a closer look at what sets these cleaning methods apart:

Bonnet Cleaning (Dry)

This cleaning method employs a spinning pad, or bonnet, to work cleaning solution into a carpet and to loosen soil; as the pad is absorbent, it is also used to pull away dirty solution. Several pads can be required to complete the cleaning.

I like the idea of using relatively little cleaning solution; but the idea of sponging away dirty solution doesn’t sound like it offers improvement over the damp results I was getting with my own machine.

Absorbent Compound Cleaning (Dry)

Imagine spraying a sawdust-like compound, wet with cleaning solution, onto your carpet. The compound is then buffed into your carpet to first loosen, and then absorb, soil before being vacuumed away.

I am certain that professional vacuum cleaners can pull away more material than my ordinary model can. But I can’t help imagining that a fair amount of compound (as well as the soil it absorbed) will be left in my carpet.

Hot Water Extraction (Wet)

This method begins with the application of a cleaning solution, which is then worked into the carpet by a brush. After soil is loosened, it is rinsed with hot water, which in turn is pulled away by vacuum. The key here is whether or not the dirty solution can be adequately removed. From what I’ve been able to learn, the answer depends on the extraction method.

Cleaners that employ portable extraction equipment are less likely to yield reasonably dry carpets; cleaners that employ more powerful truck-mounted equipment will be able to remove nearly all of the moisture, resulting in carpets that dry within an hour or two.

While I don’t like the idea of applying too much water into the carpet, the overall method makes sense to me. My next carpet cleaner will be pet-friendly, will use hot water extraction, and will have truck-mounted equipment. Here’s to hoping that my research pays off with a nice-looking carpet.

How to Clean Household Stone Tile

Cleaning the stone tile in your home requires more than occasionally wiping the surface with a detergent-drenched mop or cloth. Stone is porous, which means it’s susceptible to soaking up soil, spills, and harsh cleaners. Also, stone tile can be fragile. Acidic cleaners – such as vinegar, for example – can ruin slate tiles. The smart play is to protect the stone from ground-in dirt and grime, and from stains that could be allowed to set.

General Tricks and Tips

Spills should be wiped up immediately, with the tile getting a dust mop and quick sweep at least once a week.

Regular light cleanings are the key to success. Start by sweeping off the debris from the tile floor using a dustpan and a standard broom. Use a fluffy, soft dust mop to pick up dirt and dust stuck – especially the stuff between the tiles.

Take a hot-water-filled bucket and immerse a clean mop. Squeeze the excess water out, then mop the entire floor. Once the mop loses its warmth, dip it back into the hot water and repeat the procedure. If needed, add mild dish soap to the hot water to loosen sticky residue or heavy soil. Wash away any remaining soap residue with clean water.

Note that both methods of cleaning are easy, gentle, and non-toxic. If professional help is required to clean your stone tile, we suggest using stone and tile cleaning services that are equally gentle and non-toxic.

Cleaning Stone Bathroom Tile

A home bathroom’s floor is an often-frequented area that gets soiled often. Despite the high traffic, stone tile is considered a durable option; proper care should ensure these tiles last a lifetime. But this may not happen without occasional scrubbing to get rid of the build-up. Regular cleaning is needed to help maintain the stone floor’s natural beauty:

Routine Cleaning

  • Get rid of the dirt and spills from the tile at the earliest. Blot the spills using a dry, clean cloth. Eliminate dirt using a stiff broom.
  • Clean the stone tile using a mild dishwashing detergent or liquid. Rinse well with water to remove the cleaner and use a dry mop or clean towel to dry the tile.
  • Remove debris and dirt from the grout using a mild detergent and a damp, soft brush. Again, rinse well and remove the leftover water with a clean towel or dry mop.

Deep/Extensive Cleaning

  • Use a mild cleanser to cover the bathroom surface and let it stay on the floor for at least 10 minutes. Use a damp, soft brush to remove debris and dirt from the grout and tile. Rinse well with water, and then move to the next step for more rigid stains.
  • Use a soft brush and an alkaline cleaner such as ammonia or washing soda to clean the stone tile. Rinse well to get rid of the cleaner. If the stain persists, move to the next step.

If nothing else works, apply sulfamic or phosphoric acid on the stained area. This should engrave the polished area on marble, travertine, and sandstone. Rinse well. Make sure that all the acid is wiped off the tile’s surface. Dry the floor with a dry mop or clean towel. Apply these only as a last resort.

Tinted Windows Can Lower Your Energy Usage

To make a dent in energy bill costs, many people look to attic insulation, weather-stripping, and double-glazed windows. Yet the most convenient and cost effective way to decrease energy costs probably isn’t what you think. (And no, it’s not using your heating and air system less, at the expense of your comfort). A great solution to high energy usage (and utility bills) is window tinting.

Window Tints Help Manage Heat

Tinting can help to manage heat by limiting the ability of thermal rays to pass through the window. By choosing spectrally-selective tinting, you can choose to allow only certain wavelengths to pass through. Heat comes through the window in the form of radiation through waves.

With window tinting, the wavelengths that create heat are blocked, but not the ones that affect the amount of natural light. To reduce heat loss, you want to lower the U-value or U-factor of the window. By lowering this, you increase the R-value or insulation rating. The amount of heat that gets blocked varies by the type and amount of tint used. Some the lowest solar rejection tint available is 40% while other types can block upwards to 70%.

Why Does That Matter?

When the temperature in your home is partially managed by your windows, your HVAC system doesn’t have to exert so much energy in order to keep you comfortable. You can get a lower energy bill every month and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

If you’ve been considering replacing your single-pane windows with double-pane, you might want to consider an application of window tint instead. The right tint could reduce your energy costs by 30% – about the same effect as a typical window upgrade. And you can apply the tint for a fraction of the amount you would pay for new windows.

How much energy you could save with tinted windows? This depends on several factors, such as your climate, the efficiency of your heating and air system, and the size and type of your windows. Homes that have large or floor-to-ceiling windows stand to benefit the most. If you are curious, schedule a visit from your local window tint installer. You should be able to get a free estimate of how much energy – and money – you could save.

Any way you stretch it, you’re going to save energy and money all year-round with tinting.

Guide to Finding Reliable House Cleaning Services

maid-servicesA clean home is the key to good health and optimal home comfort. A dirty house can harbor insects, rodents and disease-causing pathogens. Furthermore, the quality of air inside a dirty house may not be conducive for human use. If you live in a house with a large living room, several bedrooms and bathrooms, cleaning up around the house must not be a chore you regularly avoid. While you can always tell the kids to clean their own rooms, you can’t forget to take care of the living room, the master bedroom, bathrooms, and the kitchen. This can take a lot of time, and you may not be in the mood to regularly clean the house. House-cleaning does take some time, effort, and knowledge of cleaning techniques as well as access to specialized cleaning equipment and family-friendly cleaning solutions. Since most people do not have what it takes, hiring a maid service offering reliable house cleaning services is a great option. The following are some of the benefits of using a house cleaning service:

i) Save Time

Time is precious – you cannot afford to waste it trying to do something that you are clearly not well-equipped to handle. In today’s fast-paced world, the average person has little time to spare. The little time they get is best spent with family and friends, not cleaning the house. By hiring a maid service, you can save time and enjoy a higher quality of life with your family. House cleaning companies usually have teams consisting of several cleaners, so they can get the job done quickly, which will allow you to enjoy maximum home comfort.

ii) Effective Cleaning

One of the main benefits of hiring a house cleaning service is that that they are effective in their work. They know how to clean hard-to-reach places, so you can be assured of having a cleaner house once they’re done. Furthermore, most firms usually clean windows, both inside and outside. When was the last time you had your windows cleaned? In addition to that, most firms also offer tile-cleaning services.

iii) Wide Range of Cleaning Services

To keep your house clean and healthy for the entire family, you do not just need to clean the windows and floors; you also have to clean carpets and upholstery. Most house cleaners have cleaning equipment that can clean your dusty sofa as well as all the carpets and area rugs in your home. Furthermore, they will dust every surface in your home, whether it’s the fan blades, countertop or tables. If you have potted flowers, the maid service will ensure that all the leaves and stems are cleaned. After all, leaves can accumulate a lot of dust over time. In addition to that, the cleaners will also clean your toilets and sinks to ensure that they are spotlessly clean.

Choosing a Maid Service

There are hundreds of cleaning firms in any major city or town, and they are not all the same. While many firms would claim to be the best in the industry, only customer reviews and testimonials can give you an insight into the quality of service offered by a firm. In that regard, the following are key factors to consider:

  • Experience of the Firm
    The number of years a maid service has been in the cleaning business should be checked. This is because experienced cleaners know all the challenges associated with cleaning different types of establishments as well as how to overcome those challenges. The type of experience also matters. For this reason, you should only consider hiring cleaning firms with a lot of experience cleaning homes — don’t just hire anyone who says they can clean.
  • Licensing & Certifications
    When seeking professional cleaning services, you should only consider working with licensed house cleaners with all the relevant industry certifications. This will give you peace of mind because licensed firms are usually compliant with rules and regulations governing the industry.
  • Insurance
    When you let someone into your home to offer house cleaning services, you expose yourself to a lot of liabilities. For one, there might be damage or loss of your valuables. One or more of the cleaners may also get injured while working in your home, thereby exposing you to a potential personal injury lawsuit. To protect yourself from these risks and many more, be sure to hire a maid service with a suitable insurance policy.
  • Pricing
    The price quoted by a house cleaner must be compared to what other equally-qualified cleaning firms charge for the same house cleaning services. The most affordable maid service should be given priority.