drafty windows There have never been more incentives to replace your windows or doors than there is right now!  You might be  thinking “that’s quite the sales pitch,” but it’s actually true.

Here are 5 ways you can save money by replacing your windows this fall.

 #1 Federal Tax Credit: Although Cash-For-Clunkers has stolen some of the the thunder, the federal tax credit for energy efficient improvements is still available.  30% of the cost of materials up to $1500.  Just make absolutely sure, the windows and doors you’re having installed qualify.

#2 When Manufacturers Compete – You Win:  If the federal tax credit is the locomotive then most of the major window and door manufacturers are “holding on for the ride.” In order to maintain loyalty to their brand many of them are offering incentives to their clients who purchase high volumes of product.  Companies like us are passing that savings directly to the homeowner, and even more in some cases.

#3 Products Are Better Than Ever: Because of the standards for energy efficiency required to receive the tax credit, many of the manufacturers are developing more energy efficient products.  Companies such as Andersen and Simonton were ahead of the curve when they each developed new Low-E technology over the past few years.  Beware of other manufacturers who are simply adding multiple low-grade coatings to the glass to achieve the necessary U-value. The bottom line for you is – high-grade, energy efficient windows and doors will save you money on heating and cooling for decades to come.

#4 Gas Companies Lend a Hand : Gas companies such as Nstar, Keyspan, and National Grid give back $10 per window if you are one of their gas heating customers.  It may not seem like much, but added to the other incentives, every dollar saved is a dollar in your pocket.

#5 Mass HEAT Loan: The Mass HEAT loan program will provide many homeowners in Massachusetts with a 0% interest loan for up to 7 years.  There are a few relatively easy steps to take to get qualified for this program.

An Possible Example:  Mr. and Mrs. Jones are having 17 Simonton windows and 1 Thermatru door replaced at an estimated $10,000 before any incentives, credits, or rebates. (Note: window and door costs can vary significantly based on style, size, and options)

They save:

  • $1500 by maximizing the tax credit
  • $170 from their gas company
  • $425 from the Manufacturers (September promotion passed on by United Home Experts)

All of a sudden their $10,000 window and door project is only costing them $7,905 (a savings of $2095).  On top of that, Mr. and Mrs. Jones could potentially use a 0% interest HEAT loan and pay the project off over the next 7 years ($94 per month).  In the meantime they get to enjoy brand new, properly functioning windows and the energy savings that comes with them.

Hopefully now you agree there has never been a better time to replace your windows and doors. To set up a no pressure estimate click here.

We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about whether or not there are any asphalt roof shingles that qualify for the Federal tax credit for energy efficient improvements.  The answer is YES!  For specifics on your territory consult a local roofing contractor.

We recommend Certainteed® roofing materials over any other roofing products on the market.  Certainteed® has a proven track record for quality, and they have the best warranty program available to homeowners.  Not all Certainteed roofing products are available in New England, but there are a few that do qualify for the tax credit.

Certainteed® has recently developed Landmark Solaris® shingles which all meet the standards for the federal tax credit.  These are high quality shingles and therefore come at a premium cost so it may not make sense to have them installed just for the sake of getting money back with the Federal Tax Credit.  However, Certainteed® also has a few roofing shingle colors within the Landmark® architectural line of shingles that qualify for the tax credit.  These colors are Silver Birch, Mist White, and Star White.  What this means is, you can get 30% back of the cost of materials when you file your taxes for 2009.

roof shingle qualifies tax credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certainteed Landmark Silver Birch (color on screen may not be accurate)

As of September 1st  2009, Silver Birch is the only shingle color that we know of available in Massachusetts, Rhode Island,and New Hampshire that qualifies for the tax credit.

Home Pg Windows Thumbnail This is an excellent question, and the short answer is, “Less than you think!”  The requirements for the  Federal Tax Credit for energy efficient home improvements are fairly stringent.  The standards are a U-  value <= .30 and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) <= .30. (U-value measures the rate of heat loss  through a window and SHGC measures how well a window blocks heat from sunlight).

Before June 1st of this year (2009), the Energy Star standard for U-value was .35 (meaning windows  manufacturers were given the Energy Star label if their windows had a u-value below .35.)  But since the  release of the Federal Tax Credit, the Energy Star program has reduced their standards to match the Federal Governments.  This means some manufacturers were hit with a double whammy, losing their Energy Star label and having products that don’t qualify for the tax credit.

Most manufacturers had few if any windows that met these standards prior to this year.  What that means is there was a lot of scrambling to get windows out on the market that qualify.  Unfortunately that means many manufactures have just added thicker or more coats of Low-E, which means a darker, shiner, and less attractive window for your home.

Some manufactures like Simonton and Andersen were ahead of the game and had already developed new Low-E coatings that meet or exceed both the Energy Star and Federal Tax Credit standards well before 2009.  With Simonton the products is Low-E 366, and with Andersen the product is Low-E Smart Sun.  Both increase the energy performance of the windows without decreasing the aesthetic appearance of the windows.

If you are considering a window replacement project contact us today!  We’ll be sure the windows you buy with meet all the necessary requirements to get you 30% back up to $1500.

0010FedernewwindVinyl windows have gained significant market share in Massachusetts over the past 20 years, but  why?  What do vinyl windows have to offer the typical homeowner in New England?

Vinyl windows are certainly not right for everyone.  What we tend to recommend to homeowners is if  you like the look and feel of wood then consider a wood window, but if your primary concern is Ease  of Maintenance, Energy Efficiency, or Ease of Operation and Function, then a vinyl window is  probably a good place to start.

Ease of Maintenance:

Vinly windows don’t require scraping, sanding, priming or painting.  The only down side in this category is that you do not have an option to change the color if you desire to in the future.

Energy Efficiency:

The wood windows we install are also very energy efficient, but the best insulating window we happen to offer is a vinyl replacement window.  In Massachusetts, having well insulated windows should be at the top of your list when considering a window replacement project.

Ease of Operation and Function:

Wood windows tend to have more problems when it comes to operating properly.  Especially in a drastically changing climate with fluctuating moisture levels like Massachusetts, wood windows can expand and contract over time.  The proof is in the warranty.  Most of the major wood window manufacturers only offer a 10 or 20 year warranty on glass and components.  This is hard evidence pointing to the fact that the manufacturer expects issues to arise with wood windows after that point.  People who want wood windows should undertand this and be willing to live with it.  If this concerns you, then you are probably a good candidate for vinyl windows.

The majority of windows we install are vinyl however some homeowners in Massachusetts still want the traditional appeal of wood windows and we are happy to provide and install them.

 

yellow house smallIn the past ten years fiber cement siding has made leaps and bounds in the residential remodeling and new construction markets in  New England. Market share for the siding is approaching 10% according to manufacturers and  the Portland Cement Association. This may not seem like a large share but given the fact that the  siding product was virtually unknown in New England just ten years ago, the progress is  significant.
Companies like Certainteed® and GAF® are providers of Fiber cement. Although some people are hesitant to use fiber cement siding because of a perceived short track record within the U.S. The product has actually been used in the U.S for close to 30 years and versions of the siding (some containing asbestos) actually date back almost 100 years.  But don’t worry, fiber cement no longer contains harmful materials.  It’s mostly made of portland cement and cellulose fibers.
Although no siding product is perfect, fiber cement seems to offer homeowners in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire the beauty of wood they desire without all of the maintenance.  The proof is that there are 1000’s of houses in New England that have fiber cement.  You’ll find the product on very high-end homes in communities like Newton, Weston, Wayland, Brighton, Hull,  Newport, East Providence, Nashua NH, and many more.

Contact us for more information or a no pressure estimate

 

 paintbrush-pallet_94495 exterior of your home in Rhode Island there are several factors you should consider.  Whether    you plan on attempting the paint job yourself or hiring a Rhode Island painting contractor the    three factors described below will be helpful.

  Factor #1:  Strict Rhode Island Lead Removal Laws:  Rhode Island is one of the strictest   states in the U.S. regarding the removal of lead paint.  The government assumes any home build      before 1978 contains lead paint. If a homeowner or painting contractor does not abide by the federal, state, and local regulations they can be subject to serious fines.  Contact your local health department before starting a project to get information on the approved methods of paint removal such as wet sanding, low-heat removal, and HEPA vaccuum power sanding.

Factor #2:  Environmental moisture issues:  Many of Rhode Island homes are within a few miles of the coast.  Moisture laden, salty air can cause wood to deteriorate prematurely and can cause paint to have difficulty adhering properly. Consider purchasing a moisture meter and check several areas of the wood substrate for high levels of moisture. This will help prevent you from a frustrating cycle of peeling due to moisture.

Factor #3: Persistent peeling problems:  Many homeowners and even dishonest or unprofessional house painters think they can solve ongoing moisture problems.  The truth is recurring problems with peeling, blistering, or flaking paint are rarely due to bad paint, lack of primer, or bad prep work (although those can be factors).  A vast majority of peeling problems are due to an interior or exterior moisture problem.  It can often be difficult to determine the source of the problem, but in many cases it’s best to replace some or all of the effected areas.

If you are a looking for a professional and honest house painter in Rhode Island contact United Home Experts to help you with your paint job.

Curry1 The economy in Rhode Island is bad in general but there probably isn’t any group that  has been  more impacted than Roofers in RI.  This is due to a number of factors but  specifically these three:

 #1 Putting it off: Roofs generally only need to be replaced every 15-20  years. Therefore,  homeowners who have been directly effected by the economy, and  even those who have not (but  are still skidish) are choosing to put off roof  replacement until things seem more economically  stable.

 #2 Scaling back the project: Homeowners in R.I. are choosing to repair roof leaks and other roof issues rather than take on full roof replacement projects.  This means smaller jobs and less work for roofers and roofing contractors in Rhode Island.

#3 Material costs: Although many building material costs have settled and even receded in some cases, roofing materials have not.  In fact roofing materials cost are continually increasing.  This means roofers in RI have to increase their prices or reduce the quality of materials they use just to stay in business.

Now, here is the warning to homeowners:  Never, under any circumstances hire a roofer that seems desperate for your business, has no back-log of projects, or has a price that seems too good to be true.  When you have issues with your roof (and you will), this type of roofing contractor will be long gone.  It happens to homeowners over, and over, and over again.  You will always pay more in the long run for a poorly installed roof with low grade materials.  We commonly repair and replace roofs that are less than 10 years old because the homeowner hired an unprofessional roofer the last time around.  Do your homework ahead of time to avoid long-term regrets.

Find out how much does a new roof cost.

There is plenty of debate in the building and home improvement industries about the topic of Fiber Cement vs. Vinyl Siding and Cedar Siding which have been around for a lot longer. Thousands of homeowners have looked to United Home Experts to help them determine the answer to this question.  If the solution was so cut and dry, we wouldn’t still be installing all 3 clapboard style siding products.  The truth is, it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish and what your long term goals are.  Although we’ve constructed a detailed comparison on our main siding page – here are some quick rules of thumb to help you navigate this topic.  You may fall into one of these categories.

Homeowner #1: You prefer the most authentic, natural, and traditional product, and are willing to pay for the initial installation and more frequent maintenance.

We would recommend sticking with CVG Western Red Cedar Clapboard.

Homeowner #2: You prefer the lowest maintenance product, and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of aesthetic appeal and color choices in order to avoid much upkeep in the future.

Vinyl Clapboard is probably right for you.

Homeowner #3: You really want the look and character of wood, prefer not to be limited by a narrow color selection, and want a product that is highly impact resistant, and impervious to insects, woodpeckers, and other intruders.

Fiber cement is probably the way to go.

Hopefully this quick overview sends you well on your way to choosing a siding product or your new or existing home.

There is several shingle or shingle style products that Rhode Island siding companies can use near the coast.  Some have been used for decades, and some are newer and more modern siding products.
Cedar shingles:

Traditionally coastal homes in Rhode Island have white cedar shingles that are left to weather naturally.  Other times they are preserved with a solid stain, transparent stain or a bleaching oil.  Red cedar shingles, a denser wood, is sometimes uses as well.  Although this can be an attractive and traditional look, cedar is very expensive compared to other siding options.  It can also deteriorate rather quickly due to sun, salty air, and moisture.  Cedar shingles have been installed by siding companies in Rhode Island for decades.

Vinyl Shingles:

Although homeowners with traditional homes are not generally happy with the look of vinyl, newer products such as vinyl (or polymer) shingles offer a more pleasing appearance.  These products are an excellent option near the coast because they are durable and resistant to the coastal elements and are lower maintenance than cedar shingles and other wood products.

Fiber Cement Shingles:

Fiber cement shingles such as Certainteed Shingles, are a good balance of traditional appearance and low maintenance.  Although they take longer to install, an experienced siding contractor can finish the project in about the same time as a cedar shingle installation.  Fiber cement shingles are resistant to high winds, moisture, termites, ants, woodpeckers, and changes in temperature.  There are not many Siding Contractors in Rhode Island that are installing these yet but we at United Home Experts have completed several projects in coastal areas like Jamestown RI, Newport RI, Narragansett RI, Wakefield RI, Barrington RI, and many other local Rhode Island towns.

Contact us today for a no pressure estimate on your project

Painting contractors face more challenges now then ever.  If you open the yellow pages from 5 or 10 years ago it’s inevitable that a majority of the painting contractors listed are out of business, have relocated, or changed their name.  These are some of the obstacles facing traditional painting contractors:

New Products:

Siding: More and more homeowners are choosing to install siding on their home to get away from the 5-7 year paint cycle.  Vinyl siding and fiber cement siding are the 2 most commonly used products today.

“Lifetime Paints”:  Whether or not these products are too good to be true, which most experts suggest they are, is a discussion for another article.  However they are still tapping into the share of customers that used to use traditional painting contractors.  These “lifetime coating” companies rely heavily on the fact that the average homeowner sells and moves in less than 10 years.

Stricter Laws:

VOC Laws:  Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are the additives that produce off-gases released from paint products.  They can be harmful to our heath and the environment.  Paint manufacturers are consistently changing the formulation of their products to abide by the more stringent state and federal regulations.

Lead Paint Removal:

Over 30 years after paint companies stopped using lead as an ingredient in paint, painting contractors still have to be careful.  The state and town governments have very strict laws about how painters can and cannot remove lead paint.  Knowing these laws and abiding by them is difficult for painting contractors.

These are just a couple of the obstacles facing the traditional painting contractor today.  The important thing is that they be ready to adapt to a constantly changing industry.

We’re a local Massachusetts house painter