Replacing Your Windows? Why U-Factor Matters

If you’re considering replacing your windows, you’ve probably run across the term, U-factor. This term helps to identify the energy-efficiency of windows, which in turn helps you understand how much they can help you save money on utilities. Understanding what U-factor represents to you will help you determine which replacement windows are the right choice for you, your climate, and your home.

The U-factor indicates the insulation value of windows; a window with a lower U-factor has greater heat resistance, which in turn means it has superior insulating properties. The rating that is widely used was introduced by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The U-factor of a window can vary depending on several factors – particularly the framing and the type of glass used.

In some cases, you may also see references to the center-of-glass U-factor. This rating refers to the overall performance of the glazing only; it does not take into consideration the effects of the frame. For the majority of energy-efficient glass/windows, the U-factor for the entire window is greater than the center-of-glass U-factor.

Here in the United States, ENERGY STAR® has classified each region into a climate zone. Here in central North Carolina, we’re in what is classified as the North-Central climate zone; this means that we’re more concerned about summer’s heat than winter’s chill. Your ideal U-factor may vary. If you’re interested in seeing more information on determining the ideal U-factor for your area, visit here.

The replacement windows best suited for North Carolina’s hot summers and cool winters are those with U-factors of 0.30 or below. Renewal by Andersen of Central NC offers an excellent range of Low E4® replacement windows in Raleigh that feature U-factors that are ideally suited to our warmer climate. These windows benefit from both a framing material, Fibrex®, with good insulation properties as well as glass that effectively reflects away heat.

Does U-factor really matter? Keep this in mind: The average home spends between $1500 and $2500 on energy bills – and almost half of that cost is for heating and cooling. Poor-performing windows can account for a significant percentage of a home’s heat loss in winter and heat gain in the summer. So take the time to know the U-factor of your replacement windows – and remember that an investment in extra efficiency now can pay dividends for years to come.

Keep Your Business Cool this Summer with Spring HVAC Maintenance

With the arrival of spring, many businesses are getting ready to do some much needed spring cleaning. While you’re getting everything looking shipshape for a busy spring and summer, take the time to make sure your HVAC system is functioning at peak performance. There’s nothing worse than having a busy day with customers and clients at your office or retail location when suddenly your air conditioning cuts out. It’s more than just uncomfortable, it will probably end up losing you some valuable business as customers leave your location to seek out a cooler establishment to shop, eat, or do business.

Most people aren’t thinking too much about their air conditioning in early spring, since it’s usually so nice outside that you don’t need it yet. In fact, most people just turn their HVAC system off completely until the heat of summer starts to set in. This is the perfect time to call your local HVAC service provider, and have them inspect your equipment to make sure everything is working properly before that first summer heat wave.

While everyone should get their HVAC systems serviced in the spring, it’s especially important for businesses. Customers won’t think twice about leaving your business if it’s hot and stuffy due to an AC failure, and it could cost you a huge chunk of your maintenance budget if that failure results in having to replace your HVAC unit.


Here’s a basic list of the things you should ask your HVAC provider to check on as a part of their service call:

Condenser Unit Coils

Many times in the fall and winter, leaves and other plant debris will clog up the coils in your HVAC’s condenser unit, causing it to work harder than it should. If you live in an area that has frequent winter storms, this should be an especially important part of your service inspection, as snow and ice put extra pressure on your condenser unit. The technicians should remove debris from around your coils, straighten out any bends that may have developed due to undue pressure, and clean them up with soapy water. This will ensure that your condenser unit will function efficiently during the hot summer months.

Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is what your HVAC system uses to cool the air it pumps into your home. If your system has low levels of refrigerant it could indicate that it has developed a leak. Have your service technician check the whole system to make sure that any leaks have been dealt with before they refill it with refrigerant, otherwise the new refrigerant will just leak out and you’ll have to call them again.

Replace Filters

Changing your air filters is something that you can (and should) do on your own. It depends what kind of filters you are using to determine how often you’ll need to change them out. Fiberglass and Charcoal filters only last about a month, where pleated filters can last about three months. Replacing your filters is imperative for keeping your HVAC system running efficiently. Dirty filters make your system work harder and don’t control airborne pollutants as well as filters that are regularly replaced.


It’s not uncommon for rats and mice to seek shelter inside of your HVAC unit during the winter months, so have technicians look for any signs of rodent nesting. If there are signs of a nest, check the wiring thoroughly to make sure there aren’t any chewed wires or broken connections that could cause problems down the road.

Drain lines, Blower Fan, and Evaporator Coils

Over the course of the winter, these components often get clogged up with bits of mold, mineral deposits, dust, or other debris. Have your technician run a full check on each of these components and remove any blockages to ensure proper drainage and airflow.

By scheduling a spring service call for your business’s HVAC system, you’re setting yourself up for a great summer season. It may be the sort of thing that once you do it, you completely forget about it, and that’s how you want your AC to be, consistent and reliable. It’s much better to take the time to deal with it now than to go through the trouble of having a failure later in the season that could cost you valuable revenue.


Spring Cleaning: A Quick Overview

Spring Cleaning: A Quick Overview

With spring coming up around the corner, spring cleaning is coming into everyone’s mind. It’s that time of year to get out your cleaning supplies, dust off your mops, and get to scrubbing. It can be very stressful thinking about doing a top-to-bottom clean up of your home, but it’s necessary. I always recommend at least once a year to do a thorough cleaning. This will remove all of those built up areas of dirt, grime, mildew, and overall uncleanliness that tend to accumulate through the year.

Ready to get started? Great, here’s tip #1!

Start cleaning from top to bottom, left to right. This makes it easier to keep track of the completed area.


Gather the Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Individuals have preferences about brands of cleaning supplies; this is a generic list.

  • MP3 player or some kind of music
  • Screwdriver
  • WD-40
  • Nine-volt batteries
  • Light bulbs (the eco-extended life ones are nice)
  • Step stool
  • Furniture skids
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose and tools
  • Carpet Shampooer
  • Apron or smock with pockets
  • Steel wool pad
  • Scrub brushes, a couple of sizes (old toothbrush, bend the handle)
  • Mop and bucket
  • Bleach or Pine cleaner/disinfectant
  • Spray cleaner/degreaser
  • Feather duster
  • Q-tip
  • Rags
  • Paper towels
  • Pail
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Spray bathroom cleaner
  • Long Handled brush
  • Pen and notepad
  • Furniture Polish (0ptional)
  • Window Cleaner
  • Window Cleaner removers

Clean the Linoleum, Laminate or Tiled Rooms First

These rooms need more supplies to clean them and are the hardest to clean, so get them out of the way the first day.

Spray the appliances, commode, sinks and bathtubs when you first enter the room. Allow the cleaners time to work. Use WD-40 on all hinges, door tracks and shower tracks.

While the Cleaners are Working

Start in the upper left corner and vacuum along the trim and down the creases where cobwebs form. The step stool will give the extra height that’s needed to reach the corners. Be careful, it’s easy to fall off the stool.

Polish the windows and mirrors with the preferred product. Experiment with different types of cleaners and cleaner removers. The padded V-shaped, as seen on TV, product works well. Use Q-tips to clean corners and tracks.

Clean the appliances and the outside of the cabinets with a spray cleaner. Wipe clean with a dry rag. If anything is extremely dirty, wipe clean with paper towels.

Reminder about Smoke Alarm Batteries

This is a good time to change the batteries in the smoke alarm, if you didn’t change them when the time sprung forward, or as a reminder for the people who live in states where the time doesn’t change. High ceilings may require the assistance of a taller person.

Continue Cleaning in this Fashion

  1. Use the feather duster on wall hangings such as pictures, sconces, shelves and knick-knacks. There are other types of dusters, but fragile objects with multiple surfaces clean best with the feather duster. If an item needs special cleaning, pour a little dishwashing liquid into the pail and rub it gently, pat dry.
  2. Unscrew the little screws that hold the vents in place and sweep those out, replace the vents and the screws.
  3. Put small items that go to a different room into your apron pocket and put them away when you get to that area.
  4. Make notes of any minor repairs or touch-ups that need done, such as a paint chip on the washer or scuffs on the coffee table.
  5. After the exterior of the room is completed start in the far left corner and work towards the center. Remove and clean the light fixture or dust and spray WD-40 on the ceiling fan’s moving parts. Replace burned out bulbs.
  6. Sweep and mop. Use the scrub brushes to clean around the baseboards, the door’s threshold, appliances, the commode, the shower and the base of the sink. For tight spots like the trough of the storm door , the track of the shower door or around the sinks and crevices of the appliances, use the Q-tips. The cleaner did the preliminary work on the bathroom fixtures and the appliances. Spray lightly one more time, use the appropriate brushes to scrub and wipe clean with rags or paper towels.
  7. Use the steel wool pad in a light circular fashion to remove shoe marks. Mop over the whole area one more time.


Spring-Clean the Carpeted Rooms in a Similar Fashion Adding the Fireplace Cleaning and the Curtains

Use furniture skids (plastic circles, square or strips that go under the legs of your furniture) to move heavy furniture. The fireplace brush removes most of the ashes from the fireplace, follow this with the vacuum cleaner.

Furniture polish or a damp cloth cleans the stands, entertainment centers and mantels. Remove curtains and blinds to wash or dust well. Clean the sills and windows.

When you’ve completed your spring-cleaning, kick your feet up on your clean coffee table and relax with a nice cup of tea. Some years, if for whatever reason we’ve had a major incident involving a spill or mess, we hire a professional cleaning company to come in and help out. This year, we decided to test out a carpet cleaning company,, to see if we found any great results. Turns out, the extra help was well worth it!

Motivation For Starting Your Franchise

Motivation For Starting Your Franchise

Wanting to start your own franchise? Don’t know where to begin?

It can be tough to find the motivation for starting your own business or becoming a franchisee for a company. There are a lot of factors that will come into play should you decide to begin your business plan, and it’s important to take them all into account before you get started, during the initial planning and consultation phase, so that you don’t wind up getting hurt in the long run. I learned from some of the best marketing and franchise gurus around, and I want to share that knowledge with you. With that in mind, here are my top reasons for finding motivation to start your own franchise.


This goes without saying. Starting your own franchise, and sticking to your business plan and seeing it pay off can reap huge rewards. You can be the next Wal-mart type business owner potentially if the odds are in your favor and you’re dedicated and hard-working enough. See how one of the richest families in the world got started and became the next greatest thing. Many times, the only motivation some individuals will need is just the income. They want to see a steady flow of income so that they will be secure and be able to provide for themselves and their family. Often, franchise owners are regular family types just like yourself, who had a dream and an idea and jumped on it. In some cases, money alone has driven motivated individuals from homelessness to millionaire status. Money-seeking dreams aren’t for everyone though, so be sure to think things through.


Personal Development

This is another great motivation factor for starting your own franchise. Many individuals around the world have absolutely no idea who they are, what they truly want to do, what they want to accomplish, and so on and so forth. Some times, the phases of creating and building a franchise or company from the ground up can shape a person into who they really are. In other cases, the process of starting your own franchise may show you that perhaps being a business owner just isn’t for you, which isn’t a bad thing! It just means you are more suited to a career that better matches your skillset, morals, and values. The road to being a successful franchise owner is a long one, with many twists and turns. It’s common for people starting their own franchise and business to reach their breaking points, and that is when I think one really learns who they are.

Interest In Your Niche

This is one of my personal biggest motivators, and something I think is very important when starting out your foundation to owning a franchise. It is HUGELY important that you have a passion or at least basic interest in the field that you want to invest all of your time, money, and effort into. It’s a big investment to create and own a franchise, so being passionate about the topic of your business can be the single flame that keeps burning even when all your other motivations have gone out the window.

My Recent Trip To The Dentist

My Recent Trip To The Dentist

The Dread

I recently had to make a trip to the local dentist. This is probably my least favorite experience in the history of my experiences. Even though i’ve walked away with a (relatively) clean slate dental-wise, it still doesn’t help to think about all of the whizzing, whirring tools and gizmos that will be used on my mouth in just a little bit of time. Besides the usual advice to floss a little better (especially behind those pesky molars and into the gumline), I was able to walk away from my most recent experience pain-free.

Now let me tell you about the other aspect of my dreaded trip to the dentist. This wasn’t going to be only my trip to the dentist… I would be taking one of my children with me for their first appointment. This was the part that made fear well up in my chest and made me think of avoiding the dentist forever. I couldn’t help but think about all of the insane, crazy, child-induced events and situations that were about to occur that were seemingly unavoidable. While I put on a fake smile for my kid before-hand, I could tell that there was fear in their eyes.

Scary Dentist

The Trip

Once we made it to the dentist office, with my palms beginning to start sweating along the second half of the drive, I quickly signed us in and we awaited our turn at the brightly-lit chair that so greatly shines down on you. After about 10 minutes, our last name was called. With my child being pretty frightened at this point after seeing a young girl come out with swollen, puffy cheeks (wisdom teeth extraction, it seemed), there was no holding back their terror. I bravely and courageously volunteered to go first into the chair, so my young one could watch while I put on a good face and acted like there wasn’t a care in the world.

It was different this time however, because I didn’t have to act. My experience to the dentist was actually a good one! I didn’t feel any pain, have any sort of uncomfortable moments or gag-reflex inducing actions, and I walked away with a clean slate of tooth health. There’s nothing wrong about any of those phrases. Now, what was extremely mind-blowing to me, was the fact that even my child walked away, not just without tears, but SMILING! Can you imagine? A child’s first trip to the dentist, and they didn’t mind it one bit. They loved the fact that they got to pick and choose a tooth brush and tooth paste after the exam as well. It’s the little things that count.

The Conclusion

This is where my original blog post comes back in to play. I’m huge into family-owned, local, organic, vegan, etc., etc., and I love business that really focus on their customers. The family dentist near me that we constantly visit is one of the best, in my opinion, in the city. They provided an amazing experience for both myself and my child that will have me coming back to them for every exam from here on out, routine or not. The receptionist at the friend desk had a smiling, friendly face on when we arrived, and was quick and responsive to getting us signed in and ready to go. She was able to answer all the questions we had, and even had a few kind words for my obviously frightened, wide-eyed child.

Once we sat down in the waiting area, that was spotless and immaculate, we had about a 10 minute wait before the dentist’s assistant called our names in to the back. The rooms were filled with vibrant colors that were beautiful and really helped to put me at ease. There was calming music playing as well throughout the building. What surprised me was that not only were the dental assistants smiling, friendly, and happy to be at work, the primary dentist expert there, Dr. Ihab, was even better! It’s obvious he has many years experience in the dental field, and he helped to really give me the customer-service experience that I absolutely love. Checking down my list of top businesses that I love from my previous post, this dental care facility easily marks off almost every single one! I highly recommend them to all my friends, family, and blog readers. If you don’t live in my area, then be sure to find a great dentist – it makes ALL the difference!

About Me & My Favorite Business Types

Welcome to my website! This is my first official blog post, and I wanted to use it as not only an introduction of myself, but as a starting stepping stone for my website! I will write a little information about myself, and then I wanted to bring up my favorite types of businesses! There’s a method behind all of this madness, so bear with me!

About Myself

I’m a 30-something year old “mom-blogger”, so to speak. I have 3 beautiful, wonderful children, and really enjoy spending time outdoors. I’m an avid runner, hiker, backpacker, and yoga enthusiast, but who isn’t these days?! I spend the majority of my time taking care of my kids & family, running my household like it’s a job, and being a part-time medical transcriptionist to help supplement our income. What’s a transcriptionist? I get that question all the time. Basically, when doctors take notes during patient check ups, I write them out and “transcribe” them into documents! Better than the chicken-scratch most doctors produce, right? Check out this video for a brief overview:

I have been married for 16 years, and they have been some of the happiest days of my life. Whether we are outdoors on an adventure, at a local art gallery, or sipping some home-made beverages, we love to enjoy our time together as a family. My husband works in franchise consulting, and has an office at home, so I am always hearing his conversations with customers and clients regarding a huge amount of information and topics. I love eavesdropping and learning some of the new innovative things his clients are attempting, you’d never believe some of the franchise ideas and suggestions I’ve heard!

Best Business Categories

Enough about me, I wanted to have a general theme to my first post, so I decided on writing about my favorite types of businesses. Now, there’s no specifics in here, but I wanted to list off my favorite categories of business, and why I personally love them. Without further ado, here are my thoughts:

Customer-Focused Businesses

  • This goes without saying, a business that truly cares about its customers is a business that STAYS in business. “The customer is always right” is not a quote that I personally like, but it’s one that is true. Finding a company, especially a local one that I can support, that provides awesome customer service and customer support is a dime-a-dozen nowadays. It can be nearly impossible just to find a business where the employees smile or say hey back to you in line. I understand the difficulties of working on retail, or for a major corporation, or dealing with angry customers, but don’t let that affect your smile and personality! Giving back a smile or a friendly hello can make anyone’s day that much better, and make me look forward to frequenting your business again.

Business Type

Streamlined Business

  • Another huge important aspect of a business in my eyes is how smooth their work flows, processes, and procedures are. If I schedule an appointment to have service done to my home, I expect the company to have a process in place, similar to: initial consultation, walk-through, another consultation w/ planning phase, execution, review phase, and a final follow-up some weeks/months later. Ideally, this may be asking for a lot, but In essence, it really isn’t. Having straightforward guidelines for a company’s employees and customers to follow makes the entire consumer-side of the process WAY easier. This means I’ll be more likely to use your services, since they were so hassle-free, quick, and easy to respond!

Business Types

Local Business

  • As you may have gathered by now, I’m BIG into local business. I love to support all of the mom and pop stores that are here in my city, and I truly believe they are the backbone of America. We have thousands and thousands of stores owned by hard-working families and individuals just like yourself and I. The blood, sweat, and tears that are put into these local businesses won’t pay off without the support of the community around them. Now, if a local business has horrid service, an insane set of procedures, or something similar to that, then I’d rather go somewhere else. I won’t sacrifice my comfort just for the sake of going somewhere local!
  • In general, however, I have found that most local business owners are down-to-earth, and love to build new relationships with both new and old customers and clientele. Whether you are a regular coffee-buyer In the morning at your favorite gas station, or if you go to a local restaurant every Friday for dinner, the connection with the individuals running the establishment are what I crave and truly enjoy. If you want to immediately gain favor on my good side, tell me you love to support local business! I’ll immediately give you a giant hug.

Buy Local

Well, I think that’s enough for my first blog post, but you can look forward to me posting more often as I find time about a huge variety of topics! In between the time spent taking care of my family and working my jobs and hobbies, I’ll be sure to squeeze in time to write some blog posts here and there.


Thanks for entering and checking out my site, hope to see you back here in the future!


-S.J. Hales