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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: sun

Trend Alert - Skylights Are Making a Comeback

Chelsea O'Donnell

Lately, I have had a lot of requests from homeowners who want to cover up their skylights. Once enjoyed for extra sun and brightness, people are becoming increasingly worried that skylights let too much heat and air escape and they believe that covering them over will be less costly than replacing them. While skylights were once the cherry on the top of a contemporary design, they now seem to be falling out of fashion. So what’s the deal on this once must-have home trend? Let’s take a closer look.

Residential skylights became popular several decades ago as people craved more natural light-filled spaces, especially in home styles with high ceilings. The luxury of being able to see the clouds became a bit of an interior design status symbol and their popularity skyrocketed. But today, as homeowners are having to replace their 30-year roofs, the idea of skylights aren’t as appealing as they used to be. In fact, many people think that closing their skylights up would be cheaper than replacing them. Unfortunately, what many homeowners don’t realize is that the work involved in properly covering a skylight is actually much more of an expense than it’s worth.

Today, there are tons of new options to make skylights more versatile than ever before. Many now come with solar panels to maximize energy efficiency and some also offer inclement weather sensors, enabling them to close automatically when the first raindrop hits. Speaking of closing, one of my favorite features of a skylight is the ability to let fresh air in, which contributes to a home’s balance of moisture and overall ventilation. This also enables humidity and stale air to be released, creating a more comfortable natural air flow.

Many people who once loved the idea of skylights now complain that they can’t control the light, which is luckily a problem of the past. Today’s blinds include total blackout and filtering options which are often controlled remotely through solar batteries that don’t need to be hard wired. This gives homeowners much more flexibility in terms of controlling the light that comes into their homes, making skylights a fully customizable feature.

Lastly, of course, there is the question of energy efficiency. About 10 years ago, a law was passed allowing homeowners to receive a tax credit on the purchase and installation of renewable technology products, which means that certain skylights might get you a solar energy rebate of up to 30%. Of course, it’s important to do your homework to ensure that the product you're considering will qualify before you make the purchase.

So before you go trying to patch up the holes in your roof and ceiling, have a look at all the new options available for skylights. Between the versatility, energy efficiency, and the beauty of natural light, this once popular and nearly dying trend is getting ready to see a major resurgence.  

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

What To Look For When Shopping For an Energy Efficient Entry Door

Chelsea O'Donnell

Many people don’t give much thought to their front door, which is surprising considering that it both sets the tone for a home and is a huge contributor to its overall comfort level.

If you’re in the market for a new entry door, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration beyond just color and style. I’m a huge fan of energy efficiency and all too often, I see homeowners losing massive amounts of hot and cold air through ill-fitting old doors with little insulation. Luckily, consumers have some great resources in their corner which can make choosing a new door a real breeze.

Energy performance is often measured by ENERGY STAR®, the symbol created by the Environmental Protection Agency to measure energy efficiency here in the United States. Another label you may see is from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), which independently tests and certifies products to give consumers more transparency around efficiency. Both of these rating systems rely on several vital performance contributors that you’ll want to pay attention to. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. U-Factor measures how well the product keeps heat from escaping a room, which is vital to our cold winters. It’s important to look for a low number here, which identifies a high performing product. Ratings generally range from 0.20-1.20.

  2. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient or (SHGC) measures the opposite. This rating helps a homeowner to know how well a product can resist heat gain, which is crucial in the summer. Again, the lower the number, the better - with 0-1 being the range for this measurement.

  3. Air Leakage is exactly what it sounds like and if you’ve ever stood next to a door with worn weatherstripping, you’ll know how important it is. Look for a product with a low air leakage rating, generally expressed in units of cubic feet per minute per square foot of the frame area (cfm/ft2). This measure is also highly dependent on the installation of the product, so having a knowledgeable installer is critical.

  4. Sunlight is another important factor which is measured through Visible Transmittance or VT. VT is a fraction of the visible spectrum of sunlight that is transmitted through the glazing of a door and weighted by the sensitivity of the human eye. This is measured in nanometers on a scale of 0 to 1. The lower the number, the less the light is transmitted.

  5. Finally, Light-to-Solar Gain (LSG) is the ratio of SHGC to VT and helps homeowners understand how light is transmitted relative to heat gain. The higher the number, the more light that is transmitted without adding heat. This number isn’t always provided but can be useful depending on the positioning of your door and its exposure to the sun.

Don’t forget, exterior doors should look great, but their key function is to provide a barrier against the elements. When you’re shopping for one, keep these factors in the forefront of your mind and you’ll be taking all the steps necessary to maintain your family’s comfort for years to come.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Say So Long to Solar Panels with This Latest Invention

Chelsea O'Donnell

You’re probably familiar with Tesla, the luxury car company that made a name for itself by introducing solar energy cars to the market. Now, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has turned his attention to a different use for solar energy by announcing the launch of solar shingles which officially went on sale last week. So if you’ve been considering solar energy for your home but don’t like the look of massive panels stuck to your roof, this game changer might just be the solution you’re looking for.

If you know anything about Tesla cars, you know that they aren’t cheap and neither is the new solar roof. Installation on an average 1,800 square foot house will set you back more than $68,000, but Tesla estimates that over the roof’s 30-year life span, the solar shingles will generate over $88,000 in energy production. The 30% federal tax credit, known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit, will be available for the product and can be applied to the cost of the solar portion of the roof as well as the cost of the required Powerwall battery. Based on that percentage for this example, you’d be looking at a tax credit of $20,000 which, according to the company, brings you to around $40,000 in net earnings over the 30 year period.

The roof configuration is made up of both solar and non-solar panels, with Tesla recommending a 60-70% ratio of solar to non-solar units depending on the individual home. Unlike those unsightly solar panels we’ve come to accept as the best way to harness energy from the sun, solar roofs look very similar to a regular roof with both textured and smooth panel options which are approximately the same size as a regular roof shingle. Units designed to mimic the look of slate and Tuscan style terra cotta will both be launched in 2018.

But with our brutal seasons, will these new glass panels really be able to stand up to the weather? Tesla says yes and has given the product an infinity warranty based on the lifetime of the house. The panels also get the highest rating for wind, hail, and fire damage.

So when might you be able to get your hands on a solar roof? Tesla says they’ll begin installations in California starting in June, with a nationwide rollout planned to follow. While we aren’t sure when the product will be available yet in this area, I’m interested to know if it’s something homeowners here would want to know more about. Does a solar roof pique your curiosity? I’d love to know more. Message me on Facebook to tell me what you think at www.facebook.com/odonnellbros.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.