What's Involved in a Home Energy Assessment?

In recent years, it has become exceedingly more popular among homeowners to alter the way we utilize energy in our homes. Having an energy-efficient home is not only beneficial to the environment, and your finances but is also more comfortable for the homeowners.  Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of households are not energy-efficient… yet. This is particularly true for those that were built decades ago.

But how exactly can you determine your home’s energy needs? A home energy assessment, sometimes called a home energy audit, will tell you everything you need to know. The Building Performance Institute is a certifying body for energy assessment contractors and provides standard and quality assurance for the energy retrofit industry.

Home energy assessments are a valuable tool to see where your home is losing valuable energy so that you can address the problem and make your home more efficient overall. A comprehensive assessment will usually involve lots of different facets.

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Renewal Design-Build

Insulation inspection

Insulation inspection is crucial to a thorough home energy assessment. It involves an evaluation of insulation levels in different areas and recommendations for improvement tailored to the specific house.

Heating and cooling system inspection

This portion of the assessment will assess all of the heating and cooling equipment as well as the duct system(s).  Duct leakage is often one the greatest areas of energy loss in homes.  An assessment will include combustion safety testing for gas-fired equipment and result in recommendations for maintenance of existing equipment, as well as planning for eventual replacement.

Lighting inspection

Professional home energy assessments will take into consideration the energy spent on lighting your home. This will include examining the currently installed lighting, and recommendations for more energy efficient options such as compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs.

Air leaks

Most homes have a lot of gaps or cracks that can allow air from the outside to enter your house and conditioned air to leak out, especially if the house is older. Such leaks can contribute to high energy bills, discomfort and poor indoor air quality throughout the year. The right tools can detect these leaks so that they can be sealed appropriately, cutting down on expensive energy loss.

While there are a few things you can do around your house to get some energy savings, a comprehensive assessment will always be your best bet. It’ll save you time, money and the headaches that come along with taking care of repairs yourself. For an energy assessment of your home in Atlanta as well as all of the improvement services, contact Renewal System Solutions at 404-378-6962.

Replacement Windows Catching on with Homeowners

Atlanta home remodeling

Replacement windows offer a handful of benefits for homeowners.

If you’re looking into green home renovations in Atlanta, replacing your windows is an excellent place to start.

In a list of home improvements based on their cost vs. the overall increased home value after one year, the National Association of Realtors estimates that replacement windows increase a home’s value by approximately 97% (against the original cost of the windows).

Beyond this financial benefit, utility companies often give rebates for new, energy-efficient windows, which can amount to hundreds of dollars at the year’s end.  And the more energy-efficient your windows are, the less you’ll be spending on heating and cooling. Leaky, poorly sealed windows lose heat in winter and cool air in summer, which translates to a tremendous loss in energy and money. After replacing old, single-pane windows with properly sealed double pane products, you’re more than likely to see a difference in heating and cooling costs almost immediately.

Besides the ability to save a few bucks, replacement windows are also safer for everyone in your home. That’s because older windows often contain some dangerous materials like lead paint. Once it begins to chip and flake off, it becomes a health hazard to children, adults and pets. Did you know that exposure to lead can have negative effects on your nervous, reproductive and cardiovascular systems?

Another danger posed by old windows is in the physical sense. Cracked and broken windows are also hazardous, particularly in winter when cold weather makes them more brittle.  Drafts from leaky old windows are another potential risk, increasing the likelihood of illnesses especially for children and the elderly.

Finally, if the financial savings, energy savings, and health benefits of new windows aren’t enough incentive, consider the aesthetic value of new windows.  New, freshly painted and sleek windows will automatically make your home more attractive inside and out.

Need help with updating your Atlanta home with a much needed renovation? Contact Renewal Design-Build to find out how we can help!

Shaker Style Cabinets for Your Atlanta Kitchen Renovation

Renovating a kitchen is one of the most exciting home improvement projects to plan.  After all, the kitchen is one of the rooms you and your family use most frequently, so a fresh kitchen design can make the entire home feel new and exciting.  One of the renovations that will have the highest impact on your kitchen’s appearance is changing your kitchen cabinetry.

Atlanta homeowners who are planning kitchen renovations might want to consider the sense of elegance that flat panel shaker style cabinetry adds to any kitchen.  Classic shaker cabinets have clean lines that make the cabinetry style both simple and practical. The style reflects the harmony and a sense of pride that makes shaker cabinetry appealing to homeowners with traditional and contemporary tastes.

shaker style cabinets

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Shaker Cabinets Characteristics

The basic rail and stile construction used for the frame and panels creates a plain square design. The most common style seen in Atlanta homes consists of rows of large drawers that contrast the profile of the cabinetry.

Cabinets with larger panels enable more design options, including the use of muntins and mid-rails. The old square qualities of shaker cabinetry coupled with the wide stile or reveal doors represent a popular choice among homeowners.

Finish Selection

Homeowners can choose from a variety of finishes. Here are some of the most common choices for shaker recessed panels:

  • Painted finishes that offer a contemporary style highlighting the squared-off recessed edges inherent in the shaker design.
  • Polyurethane provides a timeless finish that embellishes the natural grains, knots, and streaks in solid wood.
  • Thermofoil or “vinyl wrap” refers to a durable laminated finish, which is bonded to a medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
  • Burnished finishes give cabinetry an aged look.  Craftsman apply the burnished process after painting the cabinets.

Shaker style cabinets are just one of many different cabinet styles that can bring out the best of your kitchen.  For more kitchen design ideas or for professional renovation services in Atlanta, feel free to contact Renewal Design-Build.

The Low Down on Dual Flush Toilets

We blogged recently about design features suggested for an aging in place bathroom. Such features make it easier for anyone in the home to maneuver comfortably and safely despite their age, height or physical condition.

Features that make for a green, eco-friendly or sustainable bathroom are a bit different, though. If going green with your remodel or renovation is a priority, you’ll want to pay special attention to elements that will help you to save water, energy and money. One of the easiest ways to accomplish all three in the bathroom is with a dual flush toilet.

dual flush toilets Atlanta

So what exactly is a dual flush toilet? Is it something that you should consider for your bathroom remodel?

dual flush toilet gives the user two flushing options with the ultimate goal of conserving water.  We live in a country with aging water infrastructures, which makes this type of toilet ideal as it uses less water than traditional commodes that most homes currently have.  In fact, older toilets use anywhere from 3.5 to about 7 gallons per flush (GPF). Dual-flush toilets can save upwards of 15,000 gallons of water per year, because they have two buttons – one for a light flush at 0.9 Gallons and the other for a heavy flush at 1.6 gallons.

Some counties in Metro Atlanta are already mandating the use of low flow toilets and will not even allow you to sell your home without first making this change. Therefore, if you plan to remodel your bathroom in the near future, a dual flush toilet can offer a modern upgrade while meeting necessary environmental requirements. Depending on which county you live in, you may even qualify for a rebate by opting for a low flow or dual flush toilet.

At Renewal Design Build, we have incorporated dual flush toilets in several of our Atlanta bathroom remodeling projects. We welcome you to view our extensive portfolio of bathroom renovations to see how a dual flush toilet can complement the overall design.

For more information about energy efficient improvements for your home, please contact us at 404-378-6962.

What's So Great About LED Lighting?

The trend of going green with home design, particularly with the use of energy-efficient materials, has exploded in recent years. And if you’ve heard of LED lighting, then you probably already know that it’s one of the easiest ways to decrease your carbon footprint at home.

What is LED lighting anyway? And what makes it so “green”?

LED lighting
LED stands for light-emitting diode. Light is produced as electrons that move through a semiconductor material to illuminate a diode. These diodes are small and can be integrated into small areas, allowing for a greater variety of lighting options such as under kitchen cabinets or in the shower.

LED lighting differs from the traditional incandescent lighting that you’re probably very familiar with. How so?

  • Appearance: LED light is much more natural looking and whiter than the yellowish light given off by incandescent bulbs, especially when those bulbs begin to age. The light from LEDs shine where it is pointed, unlike incandescent bulbs that shine in all directions. Smaller LEDs allows homeowners more flexibility, particularly because homes can now have extra lighting in places that may not have been as feasible with traditional bulbs.
  • Efficiency: Incandescent light bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat. Have you ever touched a hot light bulb? Ouch! In contrast, LEDs should be cool to the touch since little heat is released. And this also makes them safer than standard bulbs. LEDs require less electricity which amounts to about $5 per year for each bulb that is replaced with an LED fixture. That could amount to huge savings for the average household.
  • Life: The average lifespan of a regular bulb is anywhere from 750 to 2,000 hours. For Energy Star rated LEDs, you should between 25,000 and 50,000 hours of life. What a difference a bulb makes!

Is the lighting in your Atlanta home up to par? If not, Renewal Design-Build can come up with some energy-saving custom solutions for you… all you have to do is contact us!

The Draw of Stained Glass Windows

There are few things that add more character and history to a home than stained glass windows. But even when a homeowner knows their home is due for a few updates, they aren’t always aware that stained glass is even an option. Some people might even be surprised that stained glass is still relevant today!

While most of us can appreciate the beauty of stained glass, not everyone knows how it came to be or even how it benefits a modern home.

History

Stained glass windows are made of multiple pieces of colored glass. The colors are created by adding metallic salts during the glass making process and joining these pieces together to make a customized and visually appealing design. Contrary to popular belief, although both the Egyptians and Romans knew how to make various colored glass objects, there is no evidence of either of them being able to specifically create stained glass windows.

One of the earliest examples of a stained glass window was unearthed at St. Paul’s Monastery in England. The glass dates back to around 686 AD. Other than that, churches were the first buildings to make use of stained glass – a feature that many of them are still known for today. Around the 10th century, stained glass started appearing in European Gothic architecture, which is how most people are familiar with stained glass today. People of wealth admired its beauty and started bringing it into their homes.

Today, we still admire stained glass for its undeniable beauty. But it can do a lot more than just bring unique elegance to a home.

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A sunroom renovation featuring stained glass windows.

Benefits

There are a number of benefits to homeowners that decide to add stained glass windows to their home:

  • Home value: Stained glass tremendously increases the curb appeal of a home, thereby increasing its value. Few exterior features can draw the eye like stained glass can.
  • Privacy: When darker glass colors are incorporated, an added level of privacy helps to keep others from peering into your home.
  • Durability: Stained glass windows are more sturdily constructed than regular windows. In fact, stained glass is meant to last for generations.
  • Personalization: With a large variety of design possibilities, you can incorporate your personality into your home. From colors to shapes and patterns, your home’s stained glass can be a unique feature that other homes on the block can’t compete with.

Have you ever considered stained glass windows for your home? Take look at Renewal Design-Build’s portfolio for examples of our stained glass window installations and so much more!

Pining for Pine Wood Floors

There are so many things to consider when home renovations are on the horizon. Without a doubt, flooring should be a primary consideration since it is the basic foundation throughout your home. One of the most dramatic and visually appealing changes you can make is to install pine wood flooring.

But why pine?

pine wood floors

One of our kitchen renovations featuring heart pine wood flooring.

Pine is considered a soft wood, meaning it comes from cone-bearing or pine needle trees. And while hardwoods are top of mind among homeowners, most pine varieties do not fall into that category. Depending on the species, different types of pine vary greatly in their hardness. Knowing exactly what kind of pine is being considered for your specific installation will be key in determining just how fit it is for residential use.

One unique feature of pine, as opposed to many other wood species, is the character it can add to a home. It does not boast the continuous smooth, polished look of many wood floors. It showcases lots of dark knots, pinholes and ridges which all contribute to a dated, almost antique looking floor that’s especially fitting in older homes.

Now that we know a little bit about the basics of pine wood floors, why would a homeowner choose this type of flooring (as opposed to other wood species)?

 

  • Affordability: Pine wood is almost always more cost-effective than hardwoods. This makes a big difference in remodeling your home, where lower material costs might allow you to extend a new pine floor to other rooms in the house you may not have originally considered.
  • Durability: Even though it’s primarily a soft wood, pine is durable enough to withstand high traffic areas, such as kitchens and entryways. Even though it’s known for its distressed appearance, pine can be finished with a glossy sealer not only for surface protection, but for a more put together look.
  • Variety: Pine woods are usually in the light golden-brown color range, very different from the prominent darker woods we commonly see. But if dark wood is your preference, pine can be custom stained to just about any color you desire.
  • Character: Pine has a tendency to darken with age, adding a certain warmth to a home as the floor ages. The aged look is perfect for older homes and historical additions.

What’s your take on pine wood flooring in the home? Call Renewal Design-Build at 404-378-6962 to discuss how we can incorporate pine – or any type of flooring – into your Atlanta home.