Making Your Home Energy Efficient

To help save energy and money on utility bills, look to your home’s roof, siding, windows and doors.

Your home’s exterior plays a big role in helping you stay cool indoors over the summer. Whether or not you have air conditioning, you’ll want to keep the cool air inside to feel more comfortable and to save energy and money on your utility bills.

Here are a few simple things you can do.
  • Turn off your AC and open the windows at night to let in cool air.
  • Install awnings or shutters.
  • Throw shade—in a good way—on your house with a wall trellis, lattice with vines or deciduous trees on the south side of your home to provide maximum summertime roof shading.

You might also want to do some larger upgrades to make a big difference in energy and cost savings, like getting a new roof or siding, or upgrading doors and windows. Here are a few tips to save energy with your roof, siding, doors, windows and HVAC system.

Roof

  • Ready to replace your roof? Opt for a “cool roof” that’s lighter in color and uses ENERGY STAR-certified products that help reflect sunrays. Bonus: Decreasing your roof temperature can add years to your roof.
  • Hands down, insulation is the most cost effective way to save energy. It helps reduce heat transfer from outside air to inside your house. While you’re at it, consider adding a radiant barrier to the underside of the roof deck (between it and the insulation) to further reduce heat transfer.

Siding

  • Just like your roof, your siding should have a layer of insulation. It provides a good weather barrier to help protect your home during storms while helping to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. You can’t add insulation to installed siding; when you’re shopping for new siding, ask about how much insulation the siding has.
  • Check for rotten areas on wood siding, making sure there are no cracks or spots where air can infiltrate or escape. Also check the caulking at least once a year — it can shrink and crack over time.

Front Door

  • Make sure the door closes properly with a good seal, and check that all the areas around the frame are covered with weather stripping. If the door does not close properly, or you can feel a draft, it may be time to consider getting a new door replacement.
  • If you have glass in your doors, check for cracks in the glass.

Windows

Check exterior and interior caulking around windows for cracks. Make sure your windows close and seal correctly. You can buy new low-E windows, which minimize ultraviolet and infrared light, or you can hire a tinting company to apply a film to the interior of the windows to reflect UV light.

HVAC

Have your HVAC system serviced once a year to make sure it’s running efficiently. And be sure to trim any plants near the air conditioner for adequate airflow.

Practicing proper heating and cooling preventive maintenance techniques can go a long way when trying to make your home more efficient.

The Importance Of Commercial Roof Cover

The roof is a commercial building’s first line of defense from natural hazards such as wind, rain, fire, hail, ice, snow, and extreme heat. It is also the most vulnerable part of your building. Every day, your roof is exposed to weather and other elements that may contribute to decay and deterioration, increasing the risk of damage to the roof itself and the contents below it. Read more

Why We Don’t Do Layovers

While laying a new roof over an old roof may be faster, cheaper, and it happens frequently, we refuse to do it. Check out this article we recently read from ProRemodeler.com: Read more

6 Roof Maintenance Tips

Roof maintenance is key to ensure your roof’s lifespan is extended to it’s max. Here we offer 6 easy tips to keep your roof in tip top shape. Read more

4 Questions To Ask When Replacing A Roof

Don’t let all the different roofing options available go over your head.

Don’t put off thinking about a new roof until it’s too late and there’s water dripping into the living room. With so many roofing options available, it can be easy to feel like you’re in over your head and overwhelmed with choice. Read more

How To Choose Custom Windows

When picking a custom window for your home it is very important to consider multiple factors.

Why Custom Windows?

There are numerous benefits to using custom windows. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Read more

How Custom Windows Work

You probably have quite a few questions on how choosing custom windows works.  Read more

Common Roofing Problems

Watching for the 10 most common roof problems can save you significant money. Catching damage early and repairing it can save you the cost of a complete roof replacement.

Here are the 10 most common problems to be on the lookout for…

Poor or Faulty Installation
A faulty installation of your roofing material can dramatically increase the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof system’s life expectancy. You need to hire a professional to tell you if your roof has been installed correctly.

Leaks and Moisture
Wind, rain, hail, snow, ice, and debris … all of these and more can lead to moisture getting under the layers of roof and causing everything from leaks to mold and rot.

Improperly Installed Flashing
Flashing is what seals the areas where your roof has been penetrated (like vent pipes, sky lights, chimneys and heating and cooling systems. When flashing is poorly attached, it can cause open seams and laps and ultimately cause tiles to blow-off. Improperly installed flashing can also reduced puncture resistance in your roof.

Critters
Small animals, birds and insect can cause a surprising amount of damage. It’s best to evict them before they get a foothold.

Ponding Water
Water that ponds or stands on your roof is a sure sign of a problem. Common cause range from debris buildup to improper drainage of HVAC units and gutters.

Punctures and Penetrations
Wind and hail damage can cause punctures in roofing material. The sealant and flashing around penetrations (such as vents for household appliances and HVAC) added after the roofing was completed need to be looked at regularly.

Trees
Overhanging tree limbs can rub on a roof, abrading the surface of the shingles and wearing away the protective top layer. Branches can also fall on the roof creating even more serious damage. Tree limbs should be trimmed back away from the roof as much as possible and if a tree is close enough to pose a threat to your home, it should be removed.

Something as simple as walking on your roof can cause damage. Many roofers install walkways with a double layer of roofing materials to allow access to HVAC or other areas in order to prevent damage.

Ventilation
Roof and attic ventilation is an integral part of making a roof last, and occurs naturally when vents are placed at the base of the roof (at the eaves or in the soffits) and near the top of the roof (the ridge) so that warm air can leave through the top, and cool air can be drawn through the bottom. Since warm air naturally rises, no mechanical process is necessary to create this air movement. Adequate ventilation regulates temperature and moisture levels in the attic. Left unchecked, heat and moisture can build up causing damage to rafters, sheathing, shingles, insulation, and raising energy costs, any may also lead to some ugly mold and mildew problems.

Shrinkage and Blistering
Shrinkage is caused when the roof membrane (the stuff under the tiles or shingles) shrinks, most often causing cracks or crazing in the upper layer. Blistering, ridging, splitting, and surface erosion of shingles can eventually lead to bigger problems.

Improper or Lack of Maintenance
Lack of roof maintenance is probably a roof’s worst enemy. Many problems start out as minor, such as the need to remove overhanging tree limbs or cleaning backed up gutters. But when not corrected these problems can create serious damage. Routine inspection and maintenance can extend the life of your roof and that can save you a lot of money.

Repair or Replace?

Eventually, all roofs wear out and need to be replaced. You don’t want to do it too soon, because you’ll waste money. But you also don’t want to wait too long, because then you’ll end up with leaks and expensive water damage. To get the timing right, you need to know how to assess the overall condition of your roof and identify early signs of roof failure.

The national average for a new asphalt shingle roof is about $21,500, according to Remodeling’s 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report, of which you’ll recoup $12,800 at resale (59.5%). For high-end materials, such as standing-seam metal, the cost jumps to as much as $38,000.

If most of your roof is still in good shape, a spot repair makes sense. But if there are signs the roof is wearing out, or if it is more than 20 years old, replacing it may be the smarter choice.

Be alert to early signs of a roof leak

If you check the condition of your roof at least once a year, you should be able to plan in advance for necessary repairs. Early signs of trouble include dark areas on ceilings, peeling paint on the underside of roof overhangs, damp spots alongside fireplaces, and water stains on pipes venting the water heater or furnace.

From the outside, you can assess your roof’s health by viewing it through binoculars. Warning signs include cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing; shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering; and worn areas around chimneys, pipes, and skylights. If you find piles of grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters, that’s a bad sign, since the granules shield the roof from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath.

If you’re inspecting on your own and find worrisome signs, especially if the roof is old or there has been a storm with heavy wind or hail, get a professional assessment. Some roofing companies do this free; specialized roof inspectors, like those who work through the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association, charge about $175.

When repairs make sense

You can usually repair a leak in a roof that is otherwise sound. The cost might range from $10 if you just need to squirt some roofing mastic into a gap alongside chimney flashing to $1,000 to fix a leak in a roof valley. If something sudden and unforeseen, such as a wind storm, causes a leak to appear, yourhomeowner’s insurance will probably cover the repairs. But you’re still responsible for limiting the damage, so put out buckets and try to get a local roofer to spread a tarp while you arrange for repairs. Insurance may not cover problems that stem from a worn-out roof or lack of maintenance.

The cost of re-roofing

Stripping off old roofing and starting over typically costs about $3 a square foot for basic composition shingles. You may be able to leave an existing single layer and add a second layer on top of it for about $2 a square foot. If you plan to stay in the house for only a few years, this might seem like a smart way to save. But unless you’re so pressed for cash that your only other option is to risk leaks, it’s false economy. The second layer won’t last as long—only about 15 years rather than the standard 20—and you won’t get new flashing or underlayment or the opportunity to upgrade to features that make a roof stronger. Plus, when you go to sell, your re-covered roof will look a little lumpy, and potential buyers may interpret the two layers as a sign that other home improvements were also done on the cheap.

Make sure to factor in hidden costs

When you evaluate bids, don’t just look at the total. A bare-bones estimate might include a single layer of 15-pound building paper under the roofing, while a better but more expensive bid includes 30-pound paper plus self-stick rubbery material along eaves to protect against damage from ice dams. Bids might also differ in whether they include the cost of disposing of the old roofing, on hourly rates for structural repairs, and on costs related to gutters.

Once you settle on a contractor, check to make sure the company is licensed and insured. Also discuss how the crew will minimize damage to landscaping, and who will pay for any that occurs. Schedule the roof work during dry weather, if possible, so your lawn doesn’t take as much of a beating. You’ll sleep better, too, if you’re not worrying about rain coming in when the roof is half-done.