Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Window Decoration tips for Christmas

Christmas is incomplete without decorations. Whether it is simple, elaborate, elegant or traditional nothing adds to festive mood like decorating your home. And then if you are a person, landing up doing the decoration at the last moment, the easiest and the most affordable option is decorating your windows. Just like the front door, windows add to the look of your home from the outside.
Colorful festoons, ornaments, fairy lights, sparkles, garlands, swags, snowflakes, ribbons, wreaths, candles…anything and everything can create a magic look. You can elaborately dress up your windows to stand out all through the day or decorate it just so much that passersby get a glimpse of your interior décor, specially the Christmas tree lighted at night.

Snowflakes:  Create the wintry Christmas look with window display of falling snowflakes. You can simply hang the decorative snowflakes of metal, plastic or paper with strings or ribbons or even paste them on the windows. Try colorful snowflakes to create a distinctive look. For the interior, dress the window with a lacy valance or an evergreen swag and hang paper snowflakes with colorful ribbons from the curtain rods.

Ribbons: Colorful ribbons of various fabrics are most affordable and easy to use. You can hang them, loosely tie them, wrap them or even make decorative bows with them. Jazz up your wreaths with colorful ribbons or decorative ribbon bows and hang them on the window or hang your ornaments, baubles or snowflakes with ribbons. The best thing about ribbons is that you can use them to embellish anything. So buy ribbons and be at your creative best.

Tree Placement: Use your windows to add to the festive look. Since the Christmas tree is the focal point, of the home, placing it in the right location can make all the difference. Drape the tree with Christmas lights and place it near the window or light up the interior of your home to display the Christmas tree. Let everyone who passes by see and feel the warmth of your home on a wintry day. Use your windows to give a sneak peek.

Yes, decorating windows is an important part of your Christmas decorations. But think of the windows themselves. Having the right style window with a clearer view is equally important, not to forget their energy efficiency. Though it may not be something you can do last minute, it is worth considering replacing your old windows with new energy efficient ones. Plan and save money and replace them maybe before next Christmas. You can even think of going for bay or bow windows to add up to your Christmas décor. Champion Window manufactures Energy Star rated windows and for the perfect clear glass needed for the view of your décor, their windows will be a good choice. Read reviews of Champion Window by customers who are satisfied with their products and also their service as they install the windows for you.

So enjoy decorating your home and have great Christmas time with your loved ones.

Benefits of Argon filled windows

Windows play a big role in the energy efficiency of your home. Windows with improper weather stripping, caulking cause leakage and infiltration of air/water resulting in increased energy bills. However in the recent times, many new techniques have been developed to make windows energy efficient.
One of the most popular options for energy efficient windows is Argon filled windows. So what is meant by an Argon filled window? It is a window unit consisting of two or three panes of glass, with the Argon gas filled in between the panes. Argon is a low conductivity gas heavier than air and provides better insulation properties.
Double pane Argon filled windows are more energy efficient than single pane windows and are becoming a popular choice now .Here are some benefits of Argon filled windows-

·        1.       Argon is heavier than air and hence provides better insulation.
2.       They have increased R value which means increased resistance to heat flow through the windows.
3.       Thermal conductivity of Argon is about 35 % lower than normal air resulting in slow transfer of heat. Argon thus assists in keeping the heat out in summer and heat in during winter.
4.       Reduce the sound transmission, resulting in a quieter home.
5.       Argon is transparent, meaning the windows look similar to air-filled windows and give a clearer outside view.
6.        Being non-toxic and odorless, Argon is also safe in case the window breaks and the gas leaks.
7.       Being a non reactive gas, Argon does not corrode the window material like any other gas.
8.       Filling the space between panes with Argon, increases the temperature of the glass. This significantly eliminates or reduces the likelihood of condensation or frost; the most common problem occurring in windows.
9.       Argon is found in abundance in nature and hence relatively cheaper to obtain than other gas options like krypton.
10.       They can be used in all types of climates, even extreme temperature conditions.
11.   Though expensive than normal windows, they save money later in terms of reduced energy bills.
12.   Heating and cooling systems can work efficiently if Argon filled windows are installed making your home comfortable and healthy in all seasons.

Combined with high performance glass, Argon enhanced windows are the best choice when it comes to energy efficiency. You can read reviews of Champion Window, and the like, who manufacture Energy Star rated windows which are Argon filled before you buy the windows.  The exclusive glass used for the windows brings in more light and also blocks the harmful ultra violet rays which affect the interiors of your home.
Though there is a fear of the gas diffusing out, the current sealed windows offer better protection from this, resulting in a better life for the windows. Make your home energy efficient by replacing your old windows with double or triple pane Argon filled windows. Invest now and get returns by saving in your energy bills.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Essential Elements of a Country Style Home

So you often find yourself dreaming about the wild countryside and how you would pick up your old guitar and strum some country tunes while looking at the sunset from your own farmyard. If I’m describing you, then you must redesign your house into the country-style home you deserve. And here’s what you have to do:
1.     Rustic appeal
For that earthen pastoral feel, wooden furniture is the most ideal furniture to use for your house. Because nothing spells tradition better than wood. The furniture needs to be simplistic with no carvings or patterns. Wood paneling for your walls would also add to the effect. The windows and doors also need to be woody in appearance. You could use ChampionWindow’s Timberbond window for an authentic wood look if you’re looking to replace.

2.     Paint
The keyword here is ‘simple’. For a country style house, paint only in primary colors. This will make the rooms look sophisticated and traditional. Remember to choose neutral colors that aren’t too flashy.

3.     Flooring
Shiny tiles are a strict no-no for this style. Include stone in your flooring for a more authentic look. Like your furniture, your floor could also be wood but keep aesthetics in mind and don’t go overboard.

4.     Natural fabrics
Again, a country-style house means no splash. The fabric for your furniture and covers needs to be roughly weaved and simplistic. No vivid colors or patterns either. Like everything else in your country home, the fabric too needs to be simple.

5.     Say it with flowers
Floral patterns compliment country-style décor beautifully. The fabric in your curtains or furniture can be floral. Even your wallpaper could have a floral pattern but remember to use that sparingly. 

Understanding energy efficiency ratings

We HAD to cut down our increasing energy bills. After a home energy audit, we followed the suggestion of the auditor and decided to replace our windows. After much research and a few recommendations, we decided to buy windows from Champion Window.  Apart from the Energy star label , the windows also had a sticker displaying energy efficiency ratings certified by NFRC( National Fenestration Rating Council). The salesman pointed out that the sticker ensured an energy efficient window.

Curious to know what the numbers and the abbreviations on the sticker meant, I did a quick research and here is what I understood-
There were four performance areas mentioned on the sticker and certified by NFRC. These factors help you choose windows suitable for your local climate.

1.       U Factor measures the rate of heat transfer that is it helps you know how well the window prevents heat from escaping your home. It depends on the insulation, thermal properties of the frame as well as the glazing. U factor ratings fall between 0.20 and 1.20. Lower the rating, more energy efficient is the window, indicating it is better at keeping the heat in. Homes in cooler climates should install windows with lower U factor.
2.       Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how well a window blocks heat from the sun from entering the home. Expressed as a factor between 0 and 1, a lower SHGC means the window is better at blocking unwanted heat gain. Homes in warmer climates should have windows with low SHGC ratings.
3.       Condensation Resistance(CR)- Condensation or water build up indicates failure of insulation. The Condensation resistance factor measures how well a window is able to resist condensation. Expressed between 1 and 100, a higher number indicates better resistance to condensation.
4.       Visible Transmittance (VT)- It measures how much visible light comes in through the window.
This is expressed as a factor between 0 and 1 and a higher number indicates more daylight transmitted in.

Next time you shop for windows, look for this certification and be assured that your windows will be  energy efficient and will save money for you by cutting down your energy bills.

The Essential Elements of Rustic Décor

Rustic décor has made significant inroads in the field of contemporary interior design. Incorporate some rustic features in your home and you are more than likely to have a home with timeless allure and appeal, a space that projects a warm, lived-in and laid back look with, maybe just a touch of history. So then what really are some of the elements of Rustic Décor?

For me Rustic Décor encompasses a wide range of styles which allow for the inclusion of rustic elements, maybe in the earthy tones used, the distressed furniture, traditional and vintage accents and organic elements from the lap of nature. In plain terms, it’s a style which is thoroughly personal, unstructured, often quaint and most informal. There are a few things to remember if you want to go rustic. Here they are!

Use the texture of natural wood

Wood in its untreated, unpainted form has a charm not easy to beat. Avoid paints and veneers will hide the natural sheen and grain of the wood you use to construct your furniture. A simple varnish will do the trick!  Perhaps you can redo your kitchen flooring which is a mess, in bamboo and add wooden beams to give that authentic rustic look and in your living room make use of the old-fashioned Victorian style of furniture. If you are creative, you can model your own personalized rustic furniture from distressed wood.
Use natural shades with muted tones

Avoid bright colors but stick to warm, muted shades like earthy reds, russets and dull greens which will complement the roughhewn furniture you have chosen.
Make generous use of natural materials

Since this is a style based on nature, make abundant use of natural materials like jute, linens leather, rattan, bamboo and wicker for accessories and furnishings. These will blend perfectlyinto the atmosphere of a rustic room adding the texture and accents the style requires.
Pickyour accessories wisely so they blend in with the style

Don’t go overboard with this one! Select a few striking accessories to fit in with the color theme you have chosen. Stick to wood and maybe wrought iron which have timeless appeal. Use stuff from your own backyard to accessorize! Natty wall accessories made from twigs and other things from nature’s bounty you find in your garden, will add a touch of the country within your home.
Finally, let the light in

An essential element of this style is lots of light, so go ahead and invest in large windows which will light up your home. A word of advice though! You might want to invest in energy-efficient windows, like I did, from ChampionWindows and Doors. If wood isn’t within your budget, they have excellent wood-lookalike ones in vinyl. These will help you cut back your energy bills and besides, they come with a lifetime warranty!

I am a nature lover and I certainly hope you are! Why not take a few tips from above and adopt this natural style which makes you appreciate how much we have in nature.

The Essential Elements of Tuscan Décor

Tuscan home décor, particularly of the Mediterranean variety, has become increasingly popularin recent times. Inspired by the elements of nature as it is,it epitomises the warm hospitality of the Mediterranean region with its rich colors, stuccoed walls, red tiled roofs and down-to-earth simplicity. Wood, stone and color make all the difference! The rusticity of this décor makes it most appealing.
If you are excited about transforming your home with this interior design, here are some hints regarding its key elements.
The warm rich colors derived from nature typify the Tuscan palette. Colors,like shades of brown, red, orange, yellow, deep blue and olive green artfully blended, can create a warm inviting atmosphere. While stuccoed walls are generally painted white or neutral, interest is provided by using contrasting color accents, natural woods and stone. Natural stone wall are best kept natural. The ceilings of many Tuscan homes sport dark exposed wooden beams but plastered ceilings with painted frescoed style decorations will do just as well.

Since another prominent feature of decorating Tuscan style is stone, you can use this material in different places in your home, maybe as part of your fireplace, to adorn an archway, or in your kitchen or bathrooms.Limestone, granite and marble are good choices

Terracotta clay tiles are traditional Tuscan but this style also uses flooring of wide wooden planks, reclaimed timber boards, rough stone,You can throw in antique rugs to add to the warmth and color.
In Tuscan homes, windows, generally with wooden shutters,are set deep into the walls and are left uncovered to take advantage of natural light. Today, there is a wide range of windows incorporating latest technology, like those manufactured by Champion Windows and Doors whichduplicate the look and which give you the added benefit of energy-efficiency.

Typical Tuscan style furniture has simple straight lines. Cupboards, kitchen tables and chairs, bed frames and other furniture items are made of wood, are solid and made to last a lifetime. Wrought iron is also used commonly in furniture and in accessories.

Tuscan home decor is incomplete without accessories like terra cotta pottery, wrought iron hanging wall grills, woven tapestries, and copper pots,together with brightly colored ceramic bowls and serving dishes in the kitchen. 

Outdoor spaces
Tuscan style homes homes include a patio or terrace, where the family and friends can enjoy the outdoors. Garden paths are paved as a rule with unevenly-shaped flat stones, letting with grass growing in between.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Prep up your home for winter

Fall is officially here, which means that winter is lurking round the corner, ready with its assault. Snow and ice can have a damaging effect on your home’s interior and exterior and lead to expensive repairs. Improper insulation can inflict havoc on your home’s heating system and increase your heating bills. But worry not! There are numerous ways you can prepare your home for the cold, harsh months, some of which are listed below.

Tips to Prepare your Home for the Winter
Insulate the doors and windows
If your windows are old, they may need additional caulking to prevent air from sneaking its way in. The same goes for entry doors and sliding doors. Check the door frames and window openings to make sure they’re impervious to air leaks. If you find the slightest gap, use silicone caulk to seal up the crevices. You can also add weather-stripping around doors to prevent air from entering through the top and bottom.

Add new/storm windows
If the windows are very old, consider installing new vinyl replacement windows. Installing storm windows is also a good way to insulate a house. It may cost you initially, but vinyl is energy-efficient and an excellent insulator, and you’ll realize you have made a sound investment when you notice a marked decrease in your heating and cooling bills over time. Choose windows that bear the Energy Star label, such as the ones offered by Champion Window, to help reduce energy bills and improve the comfort of your home.

Tune up the heating system
Call an HVAC professional and get your heating system inspected. Over time, filters can become clogged with dust, so change the filters to increase the energy efficiency of your house. Invest in a programmable thermostat that can be set at the desired temperature when you’re indoors and cools off when no one is home.

Insulate the water pipes
Buy rolls of foam insulation easily available at hardware stores and wrap them around plumbing pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting in the dead of winter!

Improve attic insulation
An attic that’s not well insulated can allow heat to escape through the roof and send your energy bills soaring high. Add insulation to attics and crawlspaces to improve the energy efficiency of the entire house.

Drain the lawn irrigation system
Disconnect and drain all your garden hoses and lawn faucets. If you leave the water undrained, it can turn to ice and cause the pipes to crack open and burst.

Inspect the roof
The weeks before winter is the right time to inspect the roof and check for missing or worn-out shingles, leaks, and the condition of the flashing. Replace lost or broken shingles and fix any leaks that can become serious if left unattended. Get a rake and clean the roof of fallen leaves and dead branches. Trim any branches hanging over the roof so they don’t pose a threat by acting as a conveyance for squirrels and other pesky critters who can spoil the roof.

Reverse the Ceiling Fans
Reversing the direction of the ceiling fans once you turn on the heat is a great way to conserve energy. It pushes the warm air down and also lets you set the thermostat a degree or two lower.

Clean the chimneys
Chimneys can accumulate dirt and debris over time and cause fires due to poor ventilation. Now is the time to sweep and clean the chimneys and prevent the occurrence of any dangerous situation.

It may look like a mountain of work, but it’s not much once you get into the thick of it. So keep your property and family safe and secure in the bitter cold and avoid racking up costly utility bills by doing annual and maintenance and energy-saving tasks so you can enjoy winter without worrying about a thing!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Tips to Seal Windows & Doors before Winter Strikes

Fall is almost coming to an end, and Jack Frost will soon be arriving! Are you prepared to welcome him yet? Is your home equipped to deal with the fury of the winter? Now is the time to seal every opening that might let the cold air in and mess up your heating bills! Look at some foolproof ways to seal all windows and doors and stay snug inside.

Tips to Seal Windows and Doors for Winter

1.       Weather-stripping: This is one of the best ways to winterize your house. Ill-fitting doors and windows can let air in and drive away warmth of your home. Buy self-adhesive foam weather-stripping which can be peeled and stuck wherever necessary. Use smaller sizes so you can easily open and close the windows and doors 

2.       Caulking: Caulking with a waterproof filler or sealant to plug any air leaks that might be sneaking in. Most people caulk the inside and outside of the windows and use weather-stripping in the window sash. 

3.       Installing storm doors and windows: Adding storm windows and doors might seem an expensive option, but will justify the money that you spend now in the long run. In fact, experts say that mounting a storm door or window to a weather-stripped door or window can result in substantial energy savings.

 4.       Use heavy curtains: Similar to you slipping beneath a fluffy duvet on a cold winter night! The heavy fabric is a great way to block out air drafts and acts as an excellent insulator by trapping the cold air around the freezing glass panes to keep the rooms cozy in winter.  

5.       Honeycomb shades: These are types of cellular shades comprising multiple folds of fabric designed to act as insulators and seal out cold air. 

6.       Use door sweeps: These have a top hard edge usually made of metal and the bottom edge made of rubber. These are easy to install and you can install the hard edge a hair’s breadth above the bottom of the door allowing the rubber bottom to sweep the floor acting as a barrier and preventing cold air from entering from beneath. 

7.       Get a window insulator kit: These work very well with drafty windows and consist of a transparent, plastic material that can be used on most windows. Most work like a shrink film and can be used to seal the windows tight during winter and protect your house from the elements. Keep in mind that this option usually works well for windows that you won’t be opening anytime soon. 

8.       Get new windows: This is probably the most expensive option, but you need to give it a serious thought if your existing windows are old, rusty, and drafty. No amount of sealing, caulking, and insulation will work if your old windows are battered! Brand new energy-efficient replacement windows, such as the ones made by Champion Window can save you on utility bills and also increase the curb appeal of your house!

Most of the solutions mentioned above, such as door sweeps, curtains and shades, and window insulator kits can be purchased at home improvement or hardware stores or even bought online. If you haven’t already started prepping up for winter, begin now, so you aren’t shocked by soaring heating bills when winter finally puts in an appearance!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Perfect Sunroom for Less

When people think of a sunroom, they think ‘expensive’. When they see a house with a sunroof, they think ‘rich folk’. When they think of themselves having a sunroof in their house they think ‘all my money gone’ in other words ‘not possible’.  Take a moment, remove this de-motivating thought from your head and think again, is it really so expensive that you would not consider it at all? I am here to tell you it is extremely possible even if you have a quarter of the money needed to build a sunroof. 

There are many types of sunrooms out there, you just need to find the best deal in material and make the most of what your house has to offer you.  A very convenient and cheap way of building a sunroof is converting an already existing room into a sunroom. There is no need to lay and set a foundation before building anything, saving you a lot of time and effort. All you have to do is knock out the wall and fit floor to ceiling windows on the wall or walls, depending on the location of the room. If there is only one wall which is exposed to direct sunlight then your only choice is filling that wall with windows. If the room is sort of peninsular like where two – three walls are exposed then you are one of the lucky few to have the opportunity to have a perfect sunroom with three sources of sunlight to come through.

Another ideal situation would be if you had a rather large porch. Converting half of or your entire porch (depending on what you want) into a sunroom would look beautiful and will not break the bank. The exact phrase is called ‘screening’ your porch. Once again, there is no need to build a foundation since it’s already done. This saves you a lot of money too. All you need is the material to screen your porch.  This is where it gets tricky. If you’re not careful, you could lose a few extra dollars. 

One of the best ways to get the right material at a good price is to get one of those DIY sunroom kits which basically will provide everything you need to build your sunroom on your own. Going  for this will save you from not only buying un needed extra material but it will also save you from spending on labor to get it built. The instructions are simple, straight forward and very easy to follow. Anyone who knows how to hold a hammer and aim at the head of a nail can follow these instructions and successfully build a sunroom. 

Lastly, one of the most important parts of building your sunroom is choosing the right glazing for your sunroom. Many have started to use plastic since it a slightly cheaper alternative but it does have its drawbacks. The entire point of a sunroom is to let the sunlight and the heat in. Glass is able to trap more heat energy than plastic. Another great point to take into consideration is that glass is much more durable than plastic. Plastic tends to get scratched easily and can yellow over time. 

There are companies such as Champion Window that have started to manufacture eco-friendly glass that benefit you and your house in more than one way. Eco- friendly glass is definitely the way to go. It’ll keep the cold in during the summer, heat in during winter so the cost of heating and cooling the house reduces. There is a significant amount of protection from the UV rays and is more energy efficient. You can try to save as much as you want on all the material except for the glass. Make it a point to spend a little bit more on the glass cause it is the main part of the sunroom and it is definitely worth it. 

That is just about everything you need to know to build your very own sunroom. Now it’s your turn to make a little effort to make your house look like a million bucks but for one – tenth the cost. An added bonus to building your own sunroom is the sense of proud accomplishment that you will feel after building it. That feeling is something to cherish, just like the way you will cherish and enjoy your new sunroom.