1. Window Selection
2. Central Vacuum Installation
3. Finish your basement now or later
4. Thought for the Day
5. Subscription Information
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| 1. Windows
- The Basics and Energy Rating
Windows and patio doors are collectively one of the most
expensive components in the building of your new home.
They are also responsible for a major operating expense
throughout your occupancy because they are accountable
for most heat transfer (loss)between your living environment
and the great outdoors. Where a typical insulated wall
has an R factor of R-20, a standard double glazed window
has an R factor of R-2. So we gain or lose 10 times as
much heat through our windows as our walls. There are several
things that can be done to windows to minimize heat transfer
and these all add to the cost. One simple thing that will
save you money is to minimize the windows and patio doors
with a westerly exposure.
There are a wide choice of windows
available and we will present more articles on choosing
windows in the near future.
However, in this first article I will cut to the chase
and give you some targets to think about.
There are important
government and industry standards that will help you choose
the right windows for your climate
and your budget. The two most important standards are the
Resistance to heat flow or R-value, and the Energy Rating
or ER. Fortunately, these standards are consistent across
the US and Canada making window comparisons possible.
ER standard is a valuable consumer tool because ER is based
solely on a window's performance regardless of
how, or with what materials it was built. The higher the
ER numbers the better.
A common, poor performance, fixed
window, with an aluminium spacer between the glass panes
and double glazing (2 panes
of glass), might have an ER of -35. The minimum ER for
what is considered to be a high performance fixed window
is +2 and the ER for the opening version of the window
is -11. A moderate cost, high performance, fixed window,
with insulated spacer, double glazing, low-E coating, and
argon filled should have an ER of +5 and the opening version
should have an ER of -8. The highest performance, fixed
window, with insulated spacer, triple glazing, low-E coating
on 2 surfaces, argon or krypton filled gap has an ER of
+15 or more. It is also the most expensive.
If you are concerned
about energy costs to heat or cool your home, you need
to consider the ER number when choosing
your windows. There are many other considerations including
appearance, price, durability, condensation resistance,
wind resistance, water resistance, lower sound transmission,
and coatings for reflection of sunlight. Generally speaking,
if windows are certified to have high ER numbers they will
have been built with enough to ensure that many of these
other items have already been included.
Be sure to buy windows
that are certified by a trusted standards body, have a
visible certification on the window,
and are guaranteed to meet the standards that you require.
Next? In next month’s newsletter we will
be exploring what you should look for in window frames.
In the following newsletter we will discuss Low E Coatings
and Other Films on the glass.
For a Glossary of Terms see:
For more interesting reading on this topic see:
Fiberglass framed windows:
| Central Vacuum installation
is relatively straight forward, however there are a number
of important factors to take into account during the construction
of you new home, which will ensure trouble free use. The following
decisions should be considered: 1) Location of each inlet 2)
Number of Inlets 3) Size of power unit 4) location of power
unit – inside or outside the main living area 5) Tips
during installation phase 6)Protection of the PVC during construction.
We will discuss each of these areas in detail and provide several
references for you to refer to.
Location: Just like location
in real estate, placing your inlets is also important. Most
vacuum hoses are 30 feet long;
make sure that you will be able to reach all of the nooks
and crannies from the outlets you install. Usually two inlets
per floor are enough depending on the size of the home.
next thing you should consider is the placement of your furniture.
There is no sense in installing an inlet in an
area, only to place a desk or another piece of furniture
directly in front of it. You should also make certain there
is an electrical outlet within 3 feet of each inlet, to provide
electricity for the electric rug beater.
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Number of Inlets: This issue is closely
related to location or placement of inlets, however for
convenience you may want to place an extra inlet in specific
rooms. Also consider one inlet in the garage and inlets
in your basement, even if it is unfinished. Some owners
will also have an outlet in their workshop with an extra
Size of the Power Unit: You should discuss
this topic with the dealer or company you are buying from.
A final decision should be made based upon the size of
your home, the number of outlets and the overall length
of PVC piping that will be installed.
Location of the Power Unit: The power
unit needs to be installed close to an electrical outlet
and in a location with easy access –for empty the
discharge container. Additionally the selection of an
installation location should always minimize the number
of 90-degree bends. Finally, for those people who suffer
from allergies, you may want to consider installing the
power unit in the garage, since all exhaust air will
then be vented to the outside. The negative side to this
selection is that air is drawn out of the house, which
means it will be replaced with new air that enters through
doors, windows, and the fresh air intake vents. This
may result in higher heating and cooling bills.
Tips during the Installation Phase: Regardless
of whether you are doing the installation or you have
hired a contractor there are a few tips that will help
ensure you are satisfied with the end product. Here they
are: a) Plan your layout to minimize 90 degree bends
and overall length of the longest run. b) Ensure there
is an electrical outlet near every inlet c) Coordinate
with the furnace installation to ensure that the PVC
piping is not in the way of the hot or cold air returns
for your furnace. d) When cutting the piping minimize
all rough edges. Hacksaws can leave a rough cut. Deburr
them if necessary. e) Install all piping inside walls
just before the drywall is attached f) Drop a plumb from
the 2nd floor to ensure a straight run for the piping.
g) and use the plumb to line up the outlets as well.
Protecting the PVC & outlets during construction: It
is important to install the piping before the plaster or
drywall is added- or any other material that will close the
wall in. While it is not impossible to install a central
vacuum after the house is finished it is certainly a lot
easier if done ahead of time. Once you have the pipes installed
you will want to ensure that the pipe is protected. You can
use temporary plaster or plywood guards to protect the piping.
Visit some of the useful links we have provided if you would like additional
Central Vacuum Installation Manuals
How To Do It.
Finish Your Basement Now or Later
Should you finish your basement and turn it into useable living
space now as you are finalizing your construction plans for
your new home or should you wait a few years? This is an important
question for many people and the answer is of course different
for everyone and depends on their personal needs and financial
situation. This may be a non issue for many folks in southern
climates using slab construction techniques. However, in northern
climates, the majority of homes are built with some kind of
basement or crawl space.
We have listed a number of issues on both sites of the discussion to help
you decide which alternative is most appropriate for you. Here they are :
Finish your basement during the construction
Financially you may be able to include
the extra funds needed to finish your basement in your
construction financing mortgage.
It may be easier to obtain required
permits now as part of the original permit application
Do you need the extra space now for
living, recreational or home office needs?
Do you need extra bedrooms, playrooms,
craft rooms or entertainment space?
Do you want your home office to placed
away from the main living area?
Will you have an exercise room or do
you want the teenagers to have a place to entertain their
Do you intend to use your basement
for storage only.
Large families can benefit from an
extra bathroom, shower etc in the basement.
Walkouts from your basement to your
backyard may be a consideration regarding finishing your
Where will you entertain guests, family
get-togethers, formal and informal situations? Do you want
to have a game room for the children or even the adults?
Where will guests sleep when staying
over? Do you want privacy for them and you?
Will you have live-in help and where
will they have their living quarters? Personal space, showers,
Finish your basement a few years after you complete
initial construction of your home.
Will you have the financial resources
you need to pay for the completion of your finished basement
a few years from now?
The types of permits you will be required
will vary by state and province, however they could include
all or some of the following.
- A building permit
- An electrical permit
- A mechanical permit for any heating systems and other
- A plumbing permit
- How difficult will it be to hire contractors to finish
- Will access be problematic to deliver materials etc
- Will the disruption of additional construction in your
home be problematic for you or for your family (dust, access,
time off work etc.)
Regardless of which option you chose, you should plan your
basement for your future needs. Placement of your furnace,
water heater, ducting, support members, well and sewer inlet
locations will all play a part in the eventual aesthetics and
cost of finishing your basement.
Many people find it easier to finish their basements prior to moving in to
avoid the additional stress of completing their basement sometime in the future.
They avoid the dust and disruption to the household and they have the additional
living space immediately.
Visit some of the useful links we have provided if you would like additional
Thought For The Day - Human
as much time developing the inner you as you do maintaining
the outer you. Pay attention to stuff like character and
integrity. That’s the stuff that counts in God’s
all seeing eyes.
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