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How To Keep Pests Out Of Your Attic

Keeping Pests Out Of Your Attic

One method of discovering that you have unwanted houseguests is by finding their droppings. If you enter your attic and observe droppings, it is very important that you take care of your pest problem immediately, as these droppings can harbor dangerous diseases, many of which can be spread throughout your house’s ventilation system. One such disease is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can cause a lot of very nasty symptoms and is contracted just by inhaling particles from infected droppings. Health issues aside, having poop lying around any part of your house is just plain gross and unsanitary, so the problem should be addressed immediately. Also, be sure to clean up any sort of droppings in the proper manner to prevent the spread of germs.

Another way to determine if you have pests is by finding holes in any sort of screens that are between your exterior and attic. Raccoons and squirrels will jimmy their way into your screens by prying them open or gnawing at them to gain access into your attic. Here is an excellent video on how to repair damaged screens to prevent them from regaining entry to your attic. Thoroughly check all of your siding and where your exterior meets your ceiling for any holes and use caulk, steel, and wire mesh as demonstrated in this video to seal them. Some rodents can gain access to your house through holes that are as small as a quarter, so be sure to be thorough while checking your siding and roof. After you have sealed the holes in your exterior, you need to find a good means to remove the pests from your attic.

When it comes to removing the pests, there are many approaches. If you decide you want to be lethal, which I do not recommend for bigger rodents, you can use poisons and larger snap traps. The reasons I do not recommend these methods for bigger rodents is that if you cannot reach the corpse of the dead animal, it will start to stink. Also, poisons run the risk of hurting your pets and possibly your family if accidentally ingested. For nonlethal removal of pests, use small baited cages and check them on a daily basis. Some local municipal animal control centers will rent these out to you for free, and even come pick up the cages for you if you catch anything. Mothballs can be used to deter larger rodents from your attic, as can fox urine (gross!). The most important thing about using live-catch methods is that you check the traps daily, so you don’t end up torturing an animal by starving or dehydrating it. Once your pests have been removed, periodically check the areas that you have sealed off and look for droppings or other evidence that they have returned. If they have, double check for more holes, or to make sure the seals you have put in place are still intact.

Making A Homeowner's Insurance Claim

homeowners insurance claim

Owning a home requires a lot of attention and periodic maintenance to keep everything in proper working order. Even if you are on top of all that needs to be done to keep your house in good shape like changing your AC filters, painting, sealing your deck, etc., there will inevitably be something that goes wrong. Anything from a severe weather storm to a burglar can cause damage to your home or the possessions within, leaving you with the need to contact your homeowner’s insurance company to file a claim. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when filing a claim to help things run smoothly and ensure the best possible outcome.

File You Claim ASAP

By waiting around to file a claim after property is damaged or stolen, you are risking having your claim being denied by adjuster. Most insurance companies have a window of around 14 days to file a claim after damage occurs. Also, if you’re dealing with an issue such as a water leak, more damage could be caused by not being proactive such as mold or damage to wood from moisture. As soon as you notice damaged or stolen property, call your agent and discuss your best course of action.

Take Pictures

As soon as you notice that your property has been damaged, get out your phone and start taking pictures immediately. In most cases, the insurance company will send out an adjuster to take pictures, but it is a good idea to take some immediately, just in case. You never know when an adjuster will try to minimize the extent that your property is damaged to avoid paying out on a claim or reducing the claim payout. Also, these pictures can help you get proper estimates on repairs so you can decide if a claim is worth making or if you would be better off paying out of pocket instead.

Is It Worth It?

It is a good idea to get some estimates before filing a claim if the damage to your home does not look significant. Filing claims on your policy causes your premium to go up, and some insurance companies will even drop your coverage if you file what they consider to be an excessive amount of claims (in my case, I have three claims in the past three years and I am having trouble finding new coverage!). If you can afford to pay out of pocket for a repair that will not break the bank, go ahead and do it. While it is still always a good idea to discuss things with your insurance agent, repairs that cost just over the amount of your deductible are almost never worth filing.

Protect Yourself From Having to Make Claims

A lot of property damage is preventable. Trimming branches that hang over you or your neighbor’s house, installing smoke detectors, and putting in a security system are just a few of the things that can help protect your from being in a situation where you might have to make a claim on your policy.

Look Out For Yourself

During the claims process, you need to pay attention to everything that is going on. Make sure you look over all of the paperwork. Don’t let the extent of the damage or amount you’re being paid for it be minimized by the insurance company or claims adjuster. Often times, the insurance company will try to offer you a settlement or agreement that will let them get out of paying for the full claim. Don’t let them do that. Also, when reporting your claim, don’t add in what you think happened or what you think should be done about it- only report the FACTS of the situation. Mentioning that you think that there might be mold or some other thing going on with your property is always a bad idea. Also, never lie or be dishonest about what is going on- it will immediately have your claim denied and could land you in jail!

If you feel like you are being mistreated by your insurance company, don’t hesitate to let them know- but do so in a civil manner. Never except a check from your insurance company unless you are sure that it will cover the full extent of your damages. As a side note, some people would advise hiring a lawyer during this process. If there is a lot of money involved and you have a bad feeling about the way your claim is being handled, it might be worth doing so. Patience is a virtue, and it also happens to be something that you’ll need a lot of when dealing with an insurance company during your claims process. If you run out of patience, you could end up accepting an offer that won’t cover your repairs!

January Home Repair and Maintenance List

home maintenance list

Every year our houses degrade a little bit more. Rain, snow, hail, wind, and direct sunlight continually pummel our houses’ exteriors, while children, pets, and even the adults wear out their interiors. The only way to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by needed repairs is to stay on top of them throughout the year. By starting the New Year off by taking an inventory of what needs, or soon will need, some attention, you can make a list and check off the needed repairs as the year goes on. Taking inventory of your house’s condition can also prepare you for things that might pop up as the year goes on. If you find anything damaged, take note of it on a piece of paper or on your smartphone.

Begin with the interior of your house and go room-by-room checking for loose electrical outlets, damage to the walls, floor boards, and door jams. Make sure all of your windows can lock tightly and that you don’t feel a draft when they’re closed. If you have tile floor in your house, check for chips or holes in the grout. Make note of any damaged drawers or cabinets in your house that need new hinges or any other sort of repairs. Check to make sure that you can close all the doors in your house and have them latch properly. If you have a screen door, make sure that it closes properly and is in good working order.

Your bathrooms and kitchen should be given an extra attentive look when inspecting your house for needed repairs. First, you should check under the sinks for leaks and moisture. Bathroom and kitchen cabinets can be hotbeds for mold due to the added moisture in these environments. If you have leaky or faulty faucets, now is the time to take inventory of them so you can make repairs or replace them. Check for mold or grime on the caulk around the tiles in your shower or bath and rust around the drains. Run all of the faucets to make sure that your water pressure is good, and observe whether or not your drains are slow or stopped up.

Once you are finished with inspecting the rooms of your house, head outside to give the exterior a look. Check your siding for holes that could cause energy leaks or open your house up for pest infestation. There should not be any gaps along your upper exterior where your siding meets the roof of your house. Be sure to check around all of your windows for damages in the screens. Take a look at your A/C unit’s coils to see if they need to be cleaned. If you have a deck, determine whether or not it needs a treatment. Walk around the perimeter of your yard, looking for damaged panels of your fence and take note of how many there are. Any other sort of blemishes on your exterior should be accounted for, so you can come back to them later.

Obviously, this list is just a basic outline of what you should look out for, so don’t ONLY look for what is listed; by all means, you should take note of everything that needs attention. Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling everything at once. The point of making this list in January is so you can fix things throughout the year and use the list as a guide in how you can spend your free time to improve your house. Also, remember any major repairs you come across should be left to a professional!

Replacing Windows

replacing windows

Windows are not often the first things that come to mind when you are considering updates to your house. Typically, you may feel a need to update something that you interact with more often, such as a kitchen or bathroom sink, oven, or shower. Windows, however, play a large role in the value and energy efficiency of your home and should never be overlooked when considering updates or remodels to your house. Windows, much like your roof or siding, sometimes need repairs or replacing to maintain their function and efficiency.

There are some obvious warning signs that you are in need of replacement windows. The first, and most important, is a difficulty in opening or closing a window all the way. A window that does not close all the way will leak energy and may fail to lock, leaving your house open to break-ins. Windows that are difficult to open can end up being a fire hazard in rooms that don’t contain a door leading to the home’s exterior. Make sure all of the windows in your house can open and close smoothly, and can be locked tightly.

Perhaps one of the most obvious signs that you need a window repair or replacement is a draft blowing through your home. Not only does a draft indicate a major energy leak, but also a severely damaged or inefficient window. A draft in your house can signal a need for both replacement windows and replacement doors, so be sure to check both if your house is feeling windy. The draft can be caused by gaps in the window’s fixture or a damaged seal. One of the main purposes of owning a house is to protect us from the elements, and inefficient or broken windows diminish our home’s ability to do so.

If you have multi-pane windows and you notice condensation forming between them, you should consider replacement windows. The condensation occurs when the seals of your windows are failing. Because the seal is no long doing its job, moisture may enter and form condensation, indicating that the window is no longer effectively keeping out cold air. Often times you will notice a white film left behind by calcium deposits from condensation, another sign that the seal has failed. If you notice any of these signs, you should immediately replace the window as it is no longer effective at keeping out cold air.

If you feel that one or more of your windows is ugly, or doesn’t fit with how you want your house to look, that is a perfectly acceptable reason to go about looking into replacement windows. Sometimes people will replace their windows just because they don’t like the way that they open, or want a different style. There is nothing wrong with changing a component of your house just because you don’t like the way it looks or operates.

Replacing windows can be a big commitment in both time and money, but it is almost always a worthwhile investment. Windows that are drafty, not functional, or just plain ugly are not doing their job. Not only can bad windows cost you money, but they can also be a hazard; so be sure you take action immediately if you find yours are showing some of the aforementioned signals that they need to be repaired or replaced.

Storing Christmas Decorations

storing christmas decoration

The holidays have come and gone, but the reminders they leave behind are all over your house… literally. Christmas lights are still clinging to your roof and tied around your hedges. The cardboard candy-cane still greets the mailman, weeks after Christmas morning, and Lucy wearing a Santa hat is still tricking Charlie Brown on your front lawn. It is time to pull the decorations down and store them until Black Friday rolls around later on in the year. Here are a few tips that can help you feel less stress with the pulling down and storage of your decorations.

Sometimes you can find yourself in a hurry while putting away your Christmas decorations, and damage them in the process. Whether you decide to just yank the lights down off of their staples or holders, or drag the big wooden cut outs up the driveway because you don’t want to wait for someone to help you bring them back into the garage, always take your time when pulling down your decorations to prevent them from being damaged. Having to buy new decorations during the holidays is the last thing you want to add to your budget when you are already worried about buying presents for everyone.

When taking down lights, do it in an organized fashion. Unhook each bulb from its plastic hook, if that’s what you used to hang the lights with. If you stapled the lights to your house (which I don’t recommend doing), be careful not to tear the wire when pulling it free of each staple. Go ahead and wrap the string of lights around your elbow and palm as you take it down to prevent it from knotting and to keep it organized. As far as storing lights goes, the boxes they come in are often times difficult to fit the strands back into, so I recommend using a Rubbermaid storage tub with a lid. Be sure to label your tubs before you stack them into your garage or attic. This will save you an abundance of time when looking for your lights next year. If any of your Christmas lights went out during the holiday season, don’t put them away broken. You will forget the strand needs to be replaced and waste a lot of time troubleshooting next year. Go ahead and fix your lights as they go out to save yourself a lot of time.

As far as the bigger decorations go, don’t toss them into your garage uncovered. I recommend using thick plastic covering to wrap them in before you store, as this will prevent the paint from being scratched out and help keep spiders and other nasties from making nests in them. Go ahead and place the bigger decorations out of the way in your garage or attic, otherwise you’ll be tripping on them all year. Don’t let your decorations eat up space that’s better suited for commonly used items, such as bicycle or tools. If you have kids, you’ll definitely want them put up out of the way, because let’s face it: kids break things.

Smaller, indoor decorations should be wrapped in an organized fashion that will prevent them from being broken. I always recommend keeping the boxes to Christmas ornaments, as they are well-suited for storing them during the off-seasons. Stackable Rubbermaid tubs come in handy here, as well. If you put away your Christmas decorations in an organized fashion, you should be able to fit everything into just a couple tubs. If you have an artificial tree, keep its box for storage. Typically, it’s not too difficult to fit a Christmas tree back into its box, but if you have trouble, use two thick trash bags to store it in. Be gentle when placing it into storage, especially if it’s a pre-lit tree.

The holidays can be a stressful time, so being organized with your decorations can alleviate some of the stress. Remember to take your time when storing your decorations so you will not feel overburdened during the next holiday season, nor will you have the added financial stress of replacing broken decorations that were stepped on or broken due to poor storage.

December 2013

It’s only been a couple of weeks since you put away all of your Halloween decorations (or perhaps, they’re still hanging up outside) and your neighbors have already begun to hang their Christmas lights. Every day you see a new candy cane pop up in front of someone’s mailbox or the shadows of a Christmas tree silhouetted in another neighbor’s window by the light from their television. You might feel a little anxious about having to dig out all of the Christmas lights, unknotting them, testing them, getting on a ladder to hang them up, nearly breaking your neck in the process, and losing your temper when a strand doesn’t work a la Clark Griswald in Christmas Vacation. But relax, by remembering a few holiday-decorating safety-tips, things should go smoothly.

One of the biggest dangers posed by Christmas lights is that of a frayed or damaged cord. Exposed wires can cause electrical shock or even fires, so be sure you put your eyes on every inch of the cord before you plug it in. While this may seem like a daunting task, it really isn’t if you take things one strand at a time. As you unwind the cord, run it through your hands and check the wiring for tears, as well as ensuring each socket has a light in it (usually the strand won’t work otherwise) with no signs of being burnt out or damaged. After you have checked the strand, plug it in to be sure it turns on. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to have that strand running along your roof, only to find that it doesn’t work when you’re done placing the lights? I’ve never made this mistake before… Honest!

That brings me to the most obvious tip when hanging lights- make sure they all work before you even start hanging them. If you begin hanging lights and then come across a burnt out strand, you will have to put everything down, head to the store to buy a new set, and then come back only to find another set of lights that isn’t working further down the line. Go ahead and test all of the lights before you start decorating. It’s much easier to have everything ready ahead of time, rather than having to start over, pause, or take shortcuts because you don’t feel like running to get more lights. Also, I recommend getting all the tools you need to hang the lights ahead of time. Try using these or something similar to assist with hanging the lights from your roof or gutter; they are much easier and safer to use than a hammer and nails. The insulated clips are also safer than nails or staples, as they do not become electrified if they somehow breach the insulation of the strand of lights.

There are a few other more obvious things that you should not forget about when hanging Christmas lights. First off, be sure to tape your extension cords or any excess length of cable to the ground to prevent someone from tripping. A broken neck is no way to spend the holidays! If your lights are older, make sure they have fused plugs. This will prevent fire-causing sparks if something short circuits. I also recommend taping the plugs where they connect to prevent moister from getting in. You should also consider elevating the plugs off of the ground in case of ice or snow. It might also be a good idea to make sure that the outlet you are using to plug your lights in is a GFCI, as it will shut off the power to the lights if it detects current flowing through water or a person. The most obvious tip I can give you for decorating safety is to not take risks. Don’t get up on your roof if you’re not 100 percent sure that you can get back down. It is also very important that you have someone help you any time you are using a ladder while placing lights. Absolutely do not ever hang Christmas lights on your roof alone!

There are some other, smaller, things that I recommend doing to make your holiday decorating go a little smoother. First off, if you have wooden decorations, wear gloves when carrying them out of your garage and placing them. Sometimes they can be full of splinters around the edges. Always use care when going in and out of your attic if this is where you store your decorations. Every year it seems like I hear about someone in my family or one of our friends falling through the attic while trying to retrieve something. Also, use care when bringing stuff down from the attic. Don’t take shortcuts by pulling down multiple items at a time, just take it slowly and no one will get hurt. When taking down your decorations (yes, the holidays leave us as quickly as they arrive), take care to do it in an organized fashion. You are only making your next holiday season that much more difficult by rushing the cleanup process. Label all of your boxes and wrap up all of your cords neatly. Save all of the clips you used, they will come in handy when the holidays show up again in 10 or 11 months.

So there, take a deep breath, relax, put on a warm coat and go make your house look awesome!

November 2013

Where has the year gone? November is already here, along with the beautiful North Carolina autumn weather. While fall might make our trees look pretty with orange, yellow, and brown leaves; one must not let that beauty be hindered by a house with an ugly or damaged exterior.

The siding of a house can be viewed as a house's skin. It makes up the majority of a home's exterior, providing a house with its general appearance. It is for this reason that faded, damaged, or old siding can greatly depreciate not only the physical appeal of a house, but it's value as well. According to a recent CNBC article, a siding job can have an immediate 89% return on investment due to how much it can increase the asking value of your house. Even if you're not interested in selling your house in the near future, there are other reasons why having your siding replaced makes sense financially.

Damaged siding can lead to energy leaks, which will cost you more money as the winter months come closer and you find yourself running your furnace more often. By having your siding replaced, you can expect to have energy savings of up to 20% a month. With savings at those levels, one could expect the siding to pay for itself over a short period of time.

Additionally, professionally installed siding that fits to your home's measurements can prevent the invasion of unwanted pests into your home. Raccoons, squirrels, and even termite infestations can be prevented more by appropriately installed, gap-free siding than Billy the Exterminator. Other reasons why siding can save you money include possible savings on insurance premiums, as newer and better siding better equips a house for strong storms. A thorough siding job can also greatly decrease the chances of your home flooding during a storm, as the previously mentioned gaps in the siding are nowhere to be found.

Even if your home’s exterior is predominantly brick, you can have us come out and reduce your maintenance chores by weatherproofing and enclosing your wood trim.

As a homeowner, one likes to take pride in their dwelling. Nothing could possibly improve the appearance of your home more than having its siding replaced by professionals that care about their reputation and the work that they perform.

For more information on having your siding replaced, or even just looked at, call us: (704) 637-0700.

The Values of Adding a Carport

October 2013

The Values of Adding a Carport

A carport is a relatively inexpensive home improvement you can purchase that not only adds protection from the elements to any vehicles it shields, but improves the value of the property on which it is built. Even if your house has a garage attached to it already, you can have a stand-alone carport constructed at the end of your driveway to shield any additional vehicles you possess from severe weather, as well as paint-fading direct sunlight.

Over a quarter of single-family housing units in the United States were not built with a garage or other similar form of vehicular storage facility. A carport is a much more inexpensive addition to a house than a garage, and can be built as a separate or attached addition- leaving the house’s initial structure in its original state. This can be crucial for someone living in a historic neighborhood that prohibits the alteration of the original structure. A carport in these instances can be the perfect solution if you are needing a place to keep your vehicle protected.

What if your home already has a garage? Well, if your family is anything like mine, your garage is probably jam-packed with things that you are storing. Perhaps you use your garage as a personal gym, or your son is using it for his punk rock band. In these cases, your vehicle has been pushed out of the garage and out onto the driveway- leaving it susceptible to the elements. A carport could be used to keep your investment protected and your garage freed up for whatever other use it is currently serving.

Not only do carports serve a useful purpose, but they can also greatly improve the value of your home. Given that you can build them as an attached or detached structure, they are a versatile investment that is well worth considering. Please give us a call and we will gladly help you on your way to adding this great improvement to your property!

Tips for Safely Hanging Decorations
on Your Home’s Siding

September 2013

To make your home more beautiful or to celebrate different holidays or seasons, you may want to hang decorations on the side of your house. This can be tricky with a vinyl-sided house because you shouldn't drill or nail through the siding. Holes can cause water to seep behind the vinyl, creating problems for your home. Fortunately, there are several methods that you can use to hang decorations on the side of your house that do not create any holes in your siding.

Hanging Decorations on Your Home's Siding

1. Hang a vinyl siding hook on your house. This is the most efficient method. Slip the top of the hook underneath a piece of siding and wiggle it until it "snaps" into place. This hooks it onto the bottom of the siding. Then hang your decorations on the bottom of the hook.

2. Attach a cup hook to the side of your house. Clean the area where you want to attach the hook thoroughly with soap and water then dry it. Dirt interferes with adhesion. Wipe down the area with some rubbing alcohol and dry it. Wet the suction cup, press it firmly to the siding. For best results, leave the hook for a day before adding decorations.

3. Hang a wire hook from the vinyl soffit trim. This is the trim that connects between your vinyl siding and the soffit. Make a hook by cutting a short length of wire with a wire cutter and bending it into an S-shape with pliers. Be sure to choose a metal that won't rust. You can either hang items from the hooks directly or attach pieces of fishing line to the hooks. Fishing line enables you to hang decorations lower on the walls, as the hooks themselves will be close to the roof. This is a good method if you have a lot of small items to hang or if you want to hang something like a string of lights.

For more information on this topic, visit the source of this article at http://homeguides.sfgate.com/hang-decorations-vinyl-siding-38111.html

Windows of the Future

July 2013

New technologies are producing increasingly energy efficient windows. Already on the market are "super-windows," boasting triple layer designs, with two low-E coatings and spaces filled with mixtures of argon or krypton gases.

A new generation of windows, however, is being called "smart windows" because they adapt to changing conditions.

A few "smart windows" are already commercially available, and others are being developed in research labs. These windows change properties -- like their shading coefficients and visible transmittances -- in response to either an electric charge or an environmental signal such as a change in light level.

Depending on the mechanism that initiates the change in the window, these "switchable glazings" fall into four categories: electrochromic, liquid crystal, thermochromic, and photochromic.

Electrochromic Windows

Flip a switch and an electrochromic window can change from clear to fully darkened or any level of tint in-between.

The technology has been suggested for cars, where with a touch of a switch the driver can tint the mirror or sunroof. In buildings, the changeable windows allow for privacy, to cut down glare, and to ward off increases in solar heat.

The action of an electric field signals the change in the window's optical and thermal properties. Once the field is reversed, the process is also reversed. The windows operate on a very low voltage -- one to three volts -- and only use energy to change their condition, not to maintain any particular state.

To make an electrochromic window, a thin, multi-layer assembly is sandwiched between traditional pieces of glass. The two outside layers of the assembly are transparent electronic conductors. Next is a counter-electrode layer and an electrochromic layer, with an ion conductor layer in-between. When a low voltage is applied across the conductors, moving ions from the counter-electrode to the electrochromic layer cause the assembly to change color. Reversing the voltage moves ions from the electrochromic layer back to the counter-electrode layer, restoring the device to its previous clear state. The glass may be programmed to absorb only part of the light spectrum, such as solar infrared.

Early research indicates that the technology can save substantial amounts of energy in buildings, and electrochromic glazings may eventually replace traditional solar control technology such as tints, reflective films and shading devices.

Liquid Crystal Windows

The first commercially available "smart window," liquid crystal windows are used for privacy control. They do not provide energy savings.

In this window's normal "off" condition, the glazing is a translucent milky white. When an electric current is applied, however, it turns slightly hazy clear. The switch between the two states is nearly instantaneous.

The technology works this way: two layers of film enclose a layer of tiny liquid crystals. This assembly is laminated between two pieces of heat-treated glass. Both faces of the film are covered with a transparent, electrically conductive metal coating. These conductive coatings are wired to a power supply.

When the power is off, the liquid crystals are randomly scattered. Light entering the glazing does not have a clear path out, and the window is a translucent milky white. When an electric current is applied between the two conductive coatings, the liquid crystals align neatly and you can see through the window.

Other than the diffusion of light, the optical properties of the two states are nearly identical -- the window lets in nearly the same amount of light and solar heat whether it's on or off. Because there is little change in performance properties and because it requires constant energy to maintain its clear state, this liquid crystal window provides no energy saving benefits.

Thermochromic Windows

As the prefix thermo- implies, heat causes thermochromic windows to alter their properties. In response to changes in the ambient temperature, clear thermochromic glazings become diffused.

Several thermochromic technologies are being explored, but gel-based coatings seem to be the most promising. "Cloud Gel, " a product now on the market, is a thin plastic film that can be incorporated into almost any window assembly. The response temperatures of "Cloud Gel" can be adjusted depending on need and location.

In addition to automatically changing from clear to diffused in response to heat, the glazings also turn white and reflective, reducing the transmission of solar heat. That can reduce air conditioning costs significantly when it's hot outside. Because you can no longer see through the window once it loses its transparency, this glazing is probably best suited for skylights rather than view windows.

Photochromic Windows

Still in the development stage, photochromic windows respond to changes in light, much like sunglasses that darken when you move from a dim light to a bright one.

While this type of technology may seem like a good idea, it has its drawbacks for saving energy. Photochromic windows work well to reduce glare from the sun, but they don't control heat gain. That's because the amount of light that strikes a window doesn't necessarily correspond to the amount of solar heat it absorbs. Because the sun is lower in the sky during the winter months, for example, its rays may strike a window more intensely in the cold season than in the summer, when the sun is higher in the sky. In this case, a photochromic window would darken more in the winter than in the summer, although winter is the time when solar heat would be beneficial.

Another problem is that, while this technology works fine on small, eyeglass-sized pieces of glass, it has yet do be done successfully on a large-scale, commercial level for window-sized pieces.

Despite some problems, "smart windows" hold the promise of reducing energy demand and cutting air conditioning and heating loads in the future. They offer the next major step in windows that are increasingly sophisticated and energy efficient.

For more information on this topic, visit the source of this article at http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/windows/windows_future.html

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