Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Adding a Three-Season Porch Could Save You Money in the Long Run

Three-season porches make a whole lot of sense. They add living space for a minimum of expense.
They give you a place to enjoy the fresh air in summer without being baked by the sun or eaten by mosquitoes or horseflies. And they let you have a semi-outdoor living experience far sooner in the spring and later in the fall than you could get otherwise. But did you know they can also reduce your winter heating bills?

A good three-season porch typically has easy-to-operate, screened windows on three sides, with the original exterior wall of the house making the fourth wall. The floor and roof are tightly built, so that when the windows are closed, there are no drafts.

Here are two ways a three-season porch can save heating fuel:

Passive Solar Heat

Direct sunlight coming through plain glass (glass that's not tinted or treated with a reflective coating) can provide a surprising amount of heat. If the angle of the sun's rays is too steep to come directly, and it reflects off snow or ice in your yard first, that works, too.

To take advantage of the passive solar potential of your three-season porch, follow these tips:
  • Locate it where the winter sun will hit the windows. Usually, this means the south side of your house.
  • Make sure there are no evergreen trees in the way that will shade the windows in the winter.
To keep your porch cooler in the summer:
  • Give it a roof with a large overhang. The sun is closer to the horizon in the winter, so a large overhang will let winter sunshine will in but keep midday summer sunshine out.
  • Locate any kiddie pools and other shiny objects where they won't reflect the sun's rays onto the windows.
  • Don't cut down deciduous trees (trees that shed their leaves in the fall), unless they are endangering the house in some way. Deciduous trees are nature's air conditioners. They keep your house cool in summer, and actually clean the air while they're at it!

When you think of airlocks, you probably think of submarines, or maybe even spaceships. But airlocks are important in our houses, too. When you open your door on a winter day and go outside, a lot of warm air goes with you. But it doesn't have to. Old-time New Englanders never used to use a single door in the winter, because it wasted heat. You need to trap the air when you go in and out of your house, so the heat isn't sucked outside, and a three-season porch is a good way to do that. Other options are mudrooms and enclosed breezeways.

To use your three-season porch as an airlock in the winter, always close one door tightly before you open the other one. Teach your children to make sure the last person has come through the first door and shut it tightly before anyone opens the second door. Once they get the hang of it, it should start to come naturally.

Could your house benefit from a three-season porch?

New Hampshire Construction

Monday, May 4, 2015

Home Maintenance - New Hampshire Homeowner Tips

The weather is heating up. Just a few weeks ago, there was snow on the ground, and today we're all in shorts - or wishing we could be. With the ice dams and giant icicles of last winter a very recent memory, now we're looking summer in the face. Here are a few quick tips for helping your home or business building make the transition:
  • Inspect the roof. A tough winter like we just had can really do a number on a house, if it wasn't built for the climate and kept in great condition. And, unfortunately, most houses and other buildings in New Hampshire weren't built for the climate. Go figure. Check the roof for leaks and missing or damaged shingles.
  • Open and close all the doors and windows. If they bind or stick (and they didn't last summer), that could be a sign of structural damage.
  • Look for any cracks or gaps around the edges of windows and doors, cracked paint on your interior walls, and screws poking out from the walls. Again, any of these could be a sign of structural damage.
  • Check the foundation. Again, you're looking for cracks.
  • Assess your insulation. Adequate insulation will do three things for you, even in the summer: save you money, keep you more comfortable, and help your house handle temperature changes with less stress.
If you find any damage, or anything you're not sure about, don't just sit on it. Make sure you know what you're doing, or find someone who does, and take care of the problem as soon as reasonably possible. Damage only gets worse the longer you wait.

New Hampshire Construction