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Soundproof Windows

Replacing replacement windows a countertrend in home maintenance

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Replacing replacement windows a countertrend in home maintenance

For homeowners, the trend is to replace old windows with new, modern, dual-pane, wood or vinyl frame, replacement windows. However, what is trendy isn’t always best for you.

Replacement windows are fine if a new look and some energy savings is the goal, but will do little if reducing outside noise to get peace and quiet indoors is the real problem.

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The challenge is that replacement windows are not really designed to reduce noise, and the vast majority of exterior noise enters through windows, not walls. So, when life is crazy and you want to create a cosy sanctuary at home to soothe your jangled nerves, it often makes more sense to improve your existing windows than replace them.

That’s why a cost-effective countertrend is developing to keep existing windows and enhance function by placing a soundproof, matching inner window inside the existing windows. This method can stop up to 95 per cent of outside noise, while enhancing energy savings and safety. It not only provides extra thermal insulation, but also a virtually shatterproof barrier that deters intruders.

Because no window replacement is required, the installation process can take as little as one hour per window, which minimizes home disruption. A similar technique, which installs a functional, matching patio door inside or outside of an existing one, also provides comparable benefits for patio doors.

Keep the noise out

From screeching traffic and blaring car or train horns to barking dogs and roaring leaf blowers, dual-pane windows will not keep out the noise because they are not designed to do so. The problem with a typical dual-pane window is that they act like a drum and reverberate in response to external noise vibrations. The result is that the noise as sound vibrations transfers right through the panes. On top of this, the seals of most dual-pane windows degrade within a few years, which allows even more outside noise to pass through.

Some replacement window companies tout single-pane acrylic windows as soundproofing. However, the typical 3/4-in. thick acrylic panes lack sufficient mass to stop much noise. Acoustic testing has demonstrated that a single-pane acrylic window must be at least 3/8 in. thick before it provides a good acoustic soundproofing value.

SoundproofWindows inside home

An even more effective solution incorporates recording studio soundproofing technology to block up to 95 per cent of external noise penetration, which can make unwanted noise sound like it is at least two football fields farther away.

This approach first dampens sound vibrations with an inner window of laminated glass installed behind the existing window. The lamination acts like a finger placed on a vibrating wine glass to deaden the sound vibrations when struck. An inner layer of tough polyvinyl, similar to that used in car windshields, further dampens sound vibrations.

Next, air space of two to four inches between the existing window and the Soundproof Window also significantly improves noise reduction because it isolates the window frame from external sound vibrations.

Finally, spring-loaded seals in the second window frame put a constant squeeze on the glass panels. This prevents sound leaks and helps to stop noise from vibrating through the glass. The spring-loaded seals are designed to stay acoustically sound for decades.

Energy efficiency

Typical windows and glass patio doors are notorious causes of home heating and cooling loss. They transfer heat/cold by thermal conduction through the panes and glass surface, so additional heating or cooling is required to keep everyone comfortable.

Air leakage through window and patio door seals that crack over time also worsens the problem. While single-pane windows transfer the most heating/cooling, even dual-pane windows may be insufficient to keep homes sufficiently warm in winter/cool in summer without raising utility costs.

As a solution, adding an inner insulating window to existing windows, and a second sliding patio door that can be installed inside or outside of the existing door, however, can dramatically improve thermal efficiency.

In fact, this approach provides an additional layer of insulation with better insulation values than the best double-pane windows, and substantially improves insulation values for dual-pane windows as well. The second sliding patio door has even greater insulation value due to its greater surface area. This can reduce heat loss by 77 per cent or more for single-paned windows, and heating/cooling bills by up to 30 per cent, while stopping air infiltration for further energy savings and greater comfort.

Improve security

Another important side benefit to this soundproofing approach is security enhancement, since its construction helps to deter burglary/breaking and entering through typical windows or sliding glass doors.

Soundproof Windows

While standard windows or tempered glass sliding doors can be shattered by a sharp blow, the laminated glass used in such soundproofing offers significant break in protection because it is shatter-resistant and tends to remain intact even after repeated blows. Such laminated glass is actually a major component of most bulletproof glass.

The bottom line

If you want to change the curbside appearance of your home, you still might consider replacement windows.

But if stopping outside noise from driving you crazy during the day or keeping you up at night is important, or cutting your energy bill, or improving home security are your priorities, then you may want to add an inner window or patio door instead

As an added plus, the cost can often be less, depending on window size or the noise reduction sought. Also, installation can take a fraction of the time of replacement windows, and can even be done as a DIY project for additional savings.

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Available in Ontario through Arc Acoustics 

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Four reasons to upgrade to a smart home

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Four reasons to upgrade to a smart home

Connected products, once a futuristic technology, are quickly becoming a reality in households across the country. In fact, 5.8 million Canadians regularly used a smart speaker in 2019 – a 51.2-per-cent increase from the previous year, according to eMarketer.

Smart home products are popular because incorporating them into your routine helps make life easier, safer and more cost-effective.

Here are the top four reasons to give your home a smart makeover:

Safety and security

Having the ability to monitor your home from wherever you are is one of the biggest benefits of a smart home. Devices that deliver notifications about everything from intruders to water leaks help homeowners respond quickly and avoid major disasters. For families with children, for example, smart locks can let you know when kids return home from school, while a connected doorbell system can help ensure their safety when the bell rings with mobile access to live video.

Convenience and customization

Smart products streamline common tasks by giving you remote access to everything from thermostats to kitchen appliances. With a simple tap, you can lock your doors or feed the dog, while home or away. You have the ability to program devices to your family’s specific needs and preferences and to customize your smart home system to fit your routine and lifestyle.

Ease and expansion

Many of today’s smart home products can be easily installed. One of the best places to start is with essential devices like a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, such as the Onelink by First Alert Safe & Sound. The three-in-one device functions as a smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm as well as a premium home speaker, and has Amazon Alexa built in. Unlike other smart alarms, it’s designed to work with many interconnected hardwired ones, allowing you to maintain your installed alarms. Thanks to an integrated adaptor plug, installation is easy, with no rewiring required.

The Onelink Safe & Sound makes life easier, from playing music with superior sound to offering hands-free commands with Alexa. At the same time, it protects what matters most, with first-rate smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detection to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Energy efficiency and cost savings

A major part of what makes “smart” devices smart is their ability to save money through improved energy efficiency. Lights can be programmed to turn off automatically and thermostats can be set to a lower temperature during the day while you’re away. You can even track energy usage and expenditures to determine ways to reduce consumption.

Any home can be made smart today. With entertainment, lifestyle and safety features that can enhance your daily routine and provide peace of mind, it’s time to join the smart home revolution.

For more information on the Onelink Safe & Sound and other home safety products from First Alert, visit firstalert.ca

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Do you marry for love or money?

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Do you marry for love or money?

When we think about a couple getting married, thoughts of romance usually spring to mind. Where did they meet? When did they know they were in love? And how did they get engaged? But a new survey from the U.S. reveals for most couples it’s not romance that’s getting them to the alter, but the financial stability of the person they’re vowing to spend their life with. The Merrill Edge Report asks the question, “Is financial security the new happily ever after?”

In sickness and in wealth

The report by Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Edge surveyed more than 1,000 people. It found 56 per cent of respondents prefer someone who provides financial security compared to 44 per cent who want to be “head over heels,” in love. There was also very little difference between men and women. Fifty-four per cent of men want financial security and 57 per cent of women want the same. The only generation that prizes romance more, are the youngest respondents, the Gen Zs, born after 1996. They choose love 54 per cent of the time.

This is good news

Canadians are waiting longer to get married. The latest data from Statistics Canada shows, the average age of first marriages is 31 for men and 28 for women. The longer you wait to get married, the more likely it is you’ve built up your net worth. If you already own a condo or any real estate, for example, you have a large financial asset at stake. This is true as well for any retirement savings you’ve built up over the years. The survey, as unromantic as it sounds, is actually encouraging and shows we are being more pragmatic about our financial future before we tie the knot.

We are still avoiding the ‘money talk’

If most of us have finances top of mind when we get married, we should all be taking the steps to talk about our individual money situation before the big day. But bringing up this topic can be awkward. The survey found that while we’re looking to our partners for financial security, we also tight-lipped when it comes to discussing our own finances. Most admit they rarely talk about their debt, their salary, their investments or their spending habits with their soon to spouse, and that has to change.

How to get started

Ideally, you should have the money talk before you get engaged. But at the very least do it before you say “I do.” Make a date with your partner. Ask them to clear their schedule for that time so you can both really focus on what’s important, your collective financial goals. Agree on some questions that need answering, such as: How much debt are you in? What do you bring home every month after taxes? Where do you see yourself living in five years? Are you a risk taker or conservative when it comes to investing? These questions will help get the conversation started.

Be open minded

During that initial conversation and during your relationship, your partner is going to spend money on something you would not choose for yourself. That doesn’t mean they have made a bad money decision, just one that is not a priority to you. If the spending is within reason, and is not putting your household finances in the red, learn to compromise. This doesn’t mean that every purchase they make that’s not in line with your values is ok, but remember you’re still two different people with separate ideas of what valuable is. By accepting that early on, you are bound to have fewer arguments about money in the future. If financial stability is important to you, as it seems to be for the majority of people, the only way to find that is to keep the lines of communication open about your spending and your feelings about theirs.

Rubina Ahmed-Haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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DeWalt’s Tool Connect and jobsite WiFi systems

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DeWalt’s Tool Connect and jobsite WiFi systems

Hands up if you’ve ever had a tool walk off the jobsite. Okay, everyone can put your hands down now. We’ve all had this aggravating and costly experience. DeWalt’s Tool Connect inventory management system can help avoid this happening again, and can save hours wasted each week trying to track down misplaced equipment via online and mobile platforms.

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DeWalt’s lineup of Tool Connect-enabled tools includes a compact hammer drill, impact driver, and even a laser distance measure.

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But more than simply tracking tools, Tool Connect allows users to run diagnostics and customize tool performance features. The 20V impact driver (DCF888), for example, can be set stall for one second before impacting, protecting the fastener and material surface.

The system even works on tools and materials that aren’t factory-shipped with Tool Connect via the use of the Tool Connect Tag, a dust-proof, water-resistant device that can be discretely attached to anything you want to keep track of on the jobsite.

Alternatively, an adaptor called, appropriately, the Connector can be permanently attached between a 20V Max tool and its battery.

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