Stairwells are dark and somewhat cramped places by design, so many designers recommend adding windows to bring natural light into the space. Even when stairs are part of a room with an open layout, properly positioned windows make them more attractive and dramatic.
Wondering what to do about uncomfortable, drafty windows? Looking for an eco-friendly home improvement ideas? Improved window insulation can reduce vulnerabilities in your building envelope, meaning that less of your valuable heat escapes and your windows are more comfortable to sit by.
Whether you are building a new home or remodeling, you will have to decide what kind of windows to install. This is a big decision, as not only do you have to consider the style of window but also the material you want for your window frames.
No matter what style or material you choose, however, you should consider energy-efficient windows.
Replacement windows can add to the energy efficiency of your home and ensure that your interior living spaces receive adequate light. Most homeowners focus in on the type of glass that will be included in their replacement windows while failing to give enough attention to the selection of the right window frames.
The frames that surround each of the windows in your home serve several important purposes. Window frames offer structure that creates an aesthetic appearance. Since modern windows can be much heavier than their predecessors, frames offer the support needed to keep replacement windows anchored. Frames also serve as a connection point between your home and your replacement windows.
When your windows approach the 20-year mark, you should start keeping a closer eye on them for signs that they need replacement. That is not to say your windows won’t last longer than this — many do. However, inspecting them every year or so ensures that signs of wear and damage do not go unnoticed. The following are the five primary questions you should answer when inspecting an aging window.
1. How Many Panes of Glass Does the Window Have?
Look closely at the window, and assess whether each sash has one or two panes of glass. In places like Wisconsin where winters are cold, double-pane windows are now considered standard. However, some older homes still have single-pane windows.
Single-pane windows are much less energy-efficient than double-pane windows. Heat travels very easily through a single pane of glass. Even if your single-pane windows are in decent shape, you may want to have them replaced with double-pane windows. Doing so could save you hundreds of dollars per year on energy.
2. Can You See Condensation Between the Glass?
A little moisture on the inside of a window is not abnormal, especially after a period of high humidity. But if you go to wipe the moisture away and realize it is trapped inside your double-pane glass, you have a problem. Condensation can only form between the glass once a double-pane window’s seals break and the window starts leaking. A leaky window is an inefficient window.
If the window is otherwise in good shape, you may be able to have the leaky glass pane replaced. However, condensation and leaks are usually due to deteriorating window sash material, which makes replacing the window the smarter choice.
3. Can You See Mold or Rot on the Sash or Frame?
With older wooden windows, rotting sashes and frames are the primary concern. Look closely at each sash and frame, making note of any areas where the wood appears chipped, soft, or discolored.
Even if the window is still stable in the moldy or rotten frame, mold presents a health hazard. Plus, mold and rot indicate that moisture is entering through the windows. Fail to replace such windows, and you could end up with water damage to the floor and walls before long.
4. Does the Window Pass the Incense Test?
Air leaks can occur without causing condensation buildup and without distinct mold or rot. The incense test is an easy way to assess whether a window is leaking.
Start by closing all doors and windows in your home. Also, turn off the heat and any fans to ensure there is as little air movement inside the home as possible. Light a stick of incense, and slowly pass it along the borders of your window glass. If the streak of smoke coming from the incense waivers, you have a leak.
5. Does the Window Open, Close, and Lock Easily?
Sometimes a window may look fine, but when you try to operate it, you realize that it does not open, close, or lock properly. If you cannot get a window to close properly, not only will it leak, but it will also present a security risk.
If your windows are newer or are in otherwise good condition, they may just need a few adjustments, lubrication, or a simple repair to get them functioning well again. However, with older windows, poor operation is often a sign of deterioration or warping of the sash material.
If the results of your window inspection suggest your windows are on their last legs, contact Pella. We offer wood, fiberglass, and vinyl windows that will save you energy and look great in your home.
Windows do more than let light into your room, though that’s certainly an important function. The shape and style of the windows also affects the appearance of both the façade and your interior rooms. You may be well-acquainted with standard styles, such as double-hung and casement windows. However, other window configurations can help set your house apart.
The warehouse at Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin recently participated in a Kaizen initiative to improve current facility practices for organization and damage prevention. Kaizen, which means making something better in Japanese, is a continuous improvement program for all company processes.
Earlier this year, Pella corporate facilitated the Kaizen event here in Green Bay, WI. The weeklong event was created to reduce product damage throughout the company, from shipping the products directly from Pella, Iowa, to facilities in Wisconsin, and later to the customer. Although Pella currently operates with low damage rates, there are continuous efforts to improve overall customer satisfaction to lessen potential dissatisfiers. For this improvement effort, a four-person crew was tasked with making the changes in the warehouse over a span of only one month.
The Kaizen crew first analyzed how they were receiving parts in Green Bay from corporate to determine where the damage was occurring, whether it was due to the packaging, caused in transit, or by storage practices at the facility. The packaging made it difficult to detect minor damage until the products were unpackaged at the customer project site, proving problematic for installation schedules and timelines. At the Green Bay facility, the task team reviewed how products were handled and stored once delivered, and Pella corporate explored options for improving their packaging. The result was the development of a new racking system to store and protect products. Dedicated areas were created to store specific products in select bins with dividers to prevent the windows and doors from tipping, slipping, or being stacked on one another.
Since implementing the new practices, a Kaizen 30-60-90-120 day follow up procedure was set into place to review and analyze the changes made, ensuring that progress was made. Overall, the desired results were achieved for continuous improvement, and the new methods added an extra level of structure and confidence to daily tasks at the Green Bay facility.
At Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin we have a commitment to continuous improvement, to Kaizen, and to providing the best products and services for our customers.
When you buy windows, it’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about the style and the look of the window without giving much thought to the type of glass. The type of glass you choose for your windows can have a significant impact on your satisfaction with your windows as well as your home’s energy efficiency. Knowing the differences between the most popular types of glass on the market can help you pick the right window glass for your needs.
Wouldn’t it be great to save between 5-30% on your monthly energy bill ? You may feel an opportunity like this is unrealistic, but it’s actually much simpler than you think.
As a homeowner, you probably have heard of home energy audits and how they help determine the amount and frequency of which your home uses energy. A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, can help you understand your home’s energy consumption, and how excessive energy use can be corrected to make your home more efficient.
Why Should You Have a Home Energy Audit?
Have you experienced an unexplained spike in your heating bill lately, or noticed that no matter how high you set your thermostat, it feels like heat is escaping? A home energy assessment can help identify issues that may be negatively affecting the performance, efficiency, and comfort of your home, including:
Continuously running heating & cooling systems
Dry indoor air during colder months
Not only is an energy audit helpful in diagnosing energy inefficiencies in your home, it can also pinpoint areas where a bit of home improvement could help save you money in the long run.
Energy Audits Provide Comfort Without the Cost
Midwest winters can be chilly, and any Wisconsin resident would agree that heating bills are quick to rise as temperatures continue to drop. A home energy audit can offer ways to prevent heat from escaping your home, and can also provide you with tips on how you can save more by consuming less energy throughout the year.
Whether you’re a homeowner looking to sell your house in coming months or are trying to find ways to make simple home improvements on a budget, a comprehensive energy audit may help you succeed. When conducting a home energy assessment, an auditor can identify areas in your home where a bit of home improvement can help to:
Promote indoor air quality
Reduce interior drafts
Simple home improvements may save you hundreds of dollars in energy bills. For example, installing additional insulation in drafty areas of your home, like the attic or basement can save you between 10%-30% annually on heating and cooling costs.
In older homes especially, insufficient insulation and unsealed doorways can cause drafts in your home. You may notice that one room of your home feels significantly warmer than others, while other areas are downright cold. An energy assessment can help address the cause of temperature variances, such as inadequate insulation or drafty windows, and provide a report with home improvement solutions that can help add comfort to your home.
Schedule Your Home Energy Assessment Today
Are you ready to improve the energy efficiency of your home, all while saving a few extra dollars.
As energy costs rise, the renewable resource program continues to work with residents and businesses to put energy-saving plans into action. The program works with local energy audit companies to offer improvement suggestions and cash incentive opportunities.
Focus on Energy also offers whole-home improvements and heating and cooling assessments for low-income families. For qualification information or to apply, click here.
For more information on scheduling your home energy audit, call (800) 762-7077.
Save Money with ENERGY STAR® Replacement Windows and Doors
ENERGY STAR® is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that rates and promotes various appliances, equipment, and electronics with exceptional energy efficiency in order to help people and businesses save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
To promote the efficiency of your home, Pella products have energy efficient options to be ENERGY STAR® certified. This means our products can help save your home energy while still offering the features you’re looking for. Our windows and doors are designed to withstand the elements outside while keeping your home cozy on the inside.
David Belman, owner of Belman Homes in Waukesha, Wisconsin, understands the value of hard work and dedication. As a kid, Belman’s father instilled those values in him.
“When I was really little, probably about nine years old,” Belman recalls. “My dad took me to a job site, gave me a broom and a shovel, and said, ‘Start at the top and work your way to the bottom. I’ll be back in a few hours.’”
As hard as he’s worked throughout his life, Belman has been blown away by the dedication and bravery of U.S. military veterans.
That’s why Belman Homes became the first Wisconsin builder to commit to working with an organization called Operation Finally Home, which builds mortgage-free houses for injured or fallen veterans and their families.
It all started when one of Belman’s suppliers invited him to a concert during the International Builders Association show. It turned out to be a benefit concert for Operation Finally Home. During the event, a video was shown telling the story of Army Sergeant Stephen Jackel.
While serving in Afghanistan in 2011, Jackel’s vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED), flipping the vehicle and crushing his legs.
“They had munitions in the vehicle and they were on fire,” Belman explains. “There were others in the vehicle, and it was going to blow up. So he used his mangled legs to put out the munitions and saved his whole battalion.”
Jackel’s legs were amputated, and he had other serious injuries. The soldier returned home where he had a family with six children to care for.
Belman learned how Operation Finally Home gives veterans like Jackel much needed help by providing a home their families can live in for free, relieving them from the burden of mortgage payments. Belman knew he wanted his company to become involved with the organization, but at the time Operation Finally Home was mostly operating in the southern U.S.
Not long after, during a Wisconsin Builders Association meeting, Belman heard the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA) was interested in doing a housing study and working with Operation Finally Home.
“I volunteered right away,” Belman says. “We were the first builder to commit to working with Operation Finally Home in Wisconsin, and we’re nearly done with it.”
Meet the Wisconsin Veterans Getting New Homes
In early June, two families of injured U.S. veterans will move into brand new homes in the village of Jackson, Wisconsin.
Belman Homes built a house for Army Specialist Robert “Bo” Kitelinger, and another Milwaukee area builder, Tim O’Brien Homes, built one right next door for Army Sergeant Drew Wroblewski.
Both Kitelinger and Wroblewski are Purple Heart recipients who are now dealing with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after sustaining injuries during IED attacks in Iraq.
What stands out about the stories of both men is not only the fact they re-enlisted and continued serving as long as they could, but that they are working to overcome the struggles of re-adjusting to civilian life so they can make a difference in the world.
Belman says the builders are involved in selecting the families who receive homes and that Operation Finally Home purposefully seeks out veterans who are not only the most in need, but the most admirable.
“The cool thing about Operation Finally Home is that they find really deserving people,” he says. “They say they find families who want a hand up not a handout.”
In Bo Kitelinger’s case, he sought help for his PTSD while applying to colleges around the country that were located near VA clinics. Kitelinger has been attending Marquette University and plans to move on to medical school so he can eventually practice sports medicine. Meanwhile, he’s been volunteering to shadow physicians at the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee.
Belman says Kitelinger is also closely involved with a veterans’ support group at Marquette and referees for youth soccer games. When Belman met Bo Kitelinger and his family, he was impressed by their attitudes, which made the process of building a home for them even more inspiring.
“The stories are heartbreaking and hard to read sometimes, Belman says. “Then to meet them in person, and see their great outlook, and surprise them when you tell them they’re getting a home, the whole process is a really cool thing.”
The Milwaukee Bucks assisted Operation Finally Home in delivering that surprise to the Kitelinger family. Belman says they were able to announce the news at center court during halftime of a game last season.
“Not only did we honor them and have a video about their service,” Belman says. “But we were able to surprise them and say, ‘By the way you are the recipient of a brand new home from Operation Finally Home!’ It was really neat. I’ll always remember that day.”
Building a Home Fit for a Hero
Belman says he’s enjoyed every part of this experience. During the process of building the Kitelinger’s home, the many suppliers and vendors who supported the project came to write messages to Bo and his family on the frame and walls. Neighbors in the local community also got involved, including local school children.
“When Kimberly (Bo’s Wife) came in the house and saw the notes from the kids, it was just very emotional, and you could feel the love in the house,” Belman remembers.
When Bo, his wife and their three children move into their new house, they’ll find a home custom built for them.
It’s a four-bedroom ranch with around 2,500 square feet when you included the finished basement with a rec room. There’s even a special wall in the basement for the Kitelinger’s son who is a big soccer fan.
“There’s going to be a scene painted on the wall with a net so he can practice kicking goals,” Belman says. “One daughter said on TV that she wanted a pink bedroom, so we did that for her, too.”
Belman Homes also kept Bo Kitelinger’s needs, challenges, and comfort in mind.
“He does have severe PTSD and traumatic brain injury, so we’ve got a room set up that’s dark and insulated so it’s quiet and he can rest.”
It’s quite apparent that David Belman is proud of the home his company built, and he’s excited for the Kitelingers to make it their home.
“Our home is a completely hand-built stick-frame home. We didn’t even use trusses, they’re all roof rafters. So it was literally built stick-by-stick, and it’s a super high-quality home for them,” he says. “To try and keep the finished product a little bit of a surprise, we haven’t let them in there for the past two months. So it will be a nice touch for them to go in there and see it all done.”
The big day is June 4, 2016. There will be a celebration in Jackson, including a parade that ends at the two houses. Then the keys will be handed over to the Kitelinger and Wroblewski families.
Belman says this won’t be the last time his company works with Operation Finally Home. Plans are already in the works to help another veteran with a mortgage-free home in Wisconsin.
Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin is already on board and plans to donate all the windows for the next project.
“When we were approached with the opportunity to contribute to such an inspirational cause, we jumped at the chance,” says Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin owner, John Calawerts. “Pella has a tradition of supporting our military veterans, and it’s great to see projects like this taking place in Wisconsin that we can be part of.”
Belman says he is deeply thankful for the donations and support he’s received from industry partners so far.
“When we decided to do this project, I wasn’t sure what kind of support I would get from the trades. But I didn’t have to ask very hard. Most people came to me and said, ‘We’re in we’ll help you.’”
More About Belman Homes
David Belman is a second generation home builder, and Belman Homes also operates as a land developer and real estate company. Belman Homes specializes in hand-built, stick-frame homes including custom cabinetry and woodwork, which gets finished on site.
“Even though I’m a younger builder, we still do things the old fashioned way with how it’s put together,” Belman explains. “I think that gives us a high level of quality.”
But not everything about Belman Homes is old fashioned. The company uses technology to create an exceptional customer service experience.
“We’ve invested in software so we can help our customers online. They can check the progress of their home, and we’ve got all their documents online. They can log in years later and double check their paint color or look up something on their house. We’ve got it all stored for them.”
“My father was president in 1995, and we’re the first father-son presidents of the MBA. So that was a neat thing to be able to share,” David Belman says.
Soon the younger Belman will move on to a new role supporting the industry. He is president-elect for the Wisconsin Builders Association. During his time in that position, Belman says he plans to work with the next generation of home builders in the state.
“There are a lot of builders who aren’t aware of the work we do on the statewide level,” Belman says. So one of my goals is to get more engagement with the younger, up-and-coming builders.”
Purchasing new windows or doors from Pella ensures that you’ll receive exceptional craftsmanship at a fair price. You’re also guaranteed outstanding service from a team dedicated to making your vision for your home a reality.