High performance houses

Remodel to maximize your home's efficiency

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With summer approaching, it's time to start thinking about winter.

That is for those who plan to undertake home remodeling projects to improve the energy efficiency of their homes this summer.

Local experts say the best, easiest way to invest money in improving home efficiency is insulation.

"The first thing to check is the thickness of insulation in your attic," said Roy Mason, owner of Moffat County Lumber in Craig.

An attic should have anywhere from R30 to R38 insulation, he said.

Proper insulation in the attic helps with both coolness in the summer, and warmth in the winter, he said.

Jim Chappell, manager of consumer accounts at Yampa Valley Electric agreed.

"If the budget is tight, put your money into insulation," he said. "That's the best thing you can do."

Windows also are key, he said.

People should install a minimum of a double-paned window to decrease heat loss, he said. And if their budget allows them to do so, triple-paneo windows should be used.

Simonton Windows offers several tips on replacing windows including:

o Seeking out Energy Star-compliant products to lower energy bills in the home. Windows meeting the U.S. government's Energy Star guidelines can help reduce the heat loss and heat gain in a home, thus making the home more comfortable and lowering energy bills.

o Knowing when to replace windows. If windows are more than 20 years old, it's time to give them a good examination. Look for air gaps around the windows, loose caulking and condensation build-up -- all signals that it may be time to replace the units.

o Spending time opening and closing windows in different weather. Do they stick when it's humid? Are there any "rough spots" you can't get the window past? These could be indications that the windows have outlived their functionality in the home and it's time to consider replacing them.

o Considering home privacy. When it's time to replace windows, consider operable or fixed obscure acrylic block windows. They offer the same thermal dynamics as traditional replacement windows and allow light in the home while obstructing the view.

o Considering how much natural sunlight one wants in the home. If one loves natural sunlight, but hates how it fades carpeting and furnishings, they should select a Low E glass and advanced glass package. In layman's terms, these special glasses reflect the harmful ultraviolet rays from the windows, so the rays don't enter the home.

"To get the most out of new windows, it's important to go into the remodeling project with a good sense of your home's structural style and blend that with your personal style," says Dave Whelchel, director of sales and marketing for Wisconsin-based Hurd Millwork Company, which specialized in custom crafted windows for new and remodeled homes.

If people want to save on energy costs, they should pay attention to insulation and windows, and not worry so much on light, Chappell said.

"Everybody wants to cut back on lights but lights aren't a bigger user of energy," he said.

Only about 15 percent of energy consumption in a home is lighting, he said.

Another easy project to improve ventilation in a home is roof vents, Mason said, which simply involves sawing holes in the roof and installing the vents.

Chappell said with more people going to surround-sound systems in their homes these days, something that they might want to consider is installing proper wiring for a surround-sound system when remodeling.

By doing this, money can be saved in the long run, he said.

For more information, people can log on the World Wide Web at www.aia.org, www.interiors.org or the www.nahb.org.

For more ideas, people can call the Hurd Millwork Company at 1-800-223-4873, Yampa Valley Electric at 871-2231 or any area lumber store.

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