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FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2007
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Screen doors good way to keep home comfortable

Dear Jim: I want more natural ventilation to reduce my utility bills. There is a nice breeze from the front, but I do not like the looks of a screen door. How else can I get fresh air in there without the insects? — Nancy R.

Dear Nancy: Natural ventilation is the most energy efficient method to keep your home comfortable. Just a gentle breeze can make it feel like the air temperature is several degrees cooler than it actually is. Unless you have allergies or there are smog alerts, outdoor air is often less polluted than stale indoor air in an airtight home.

Before you write off installing a screen door, research them on the Internet. There are some very attractive screen/storm doors, often more attractive than many primary doors. Some wrought iron ones also provide considerable security. By installing a good-quality screen/storm door, your wintertime utility bills also will be lower.

A retractable screen would likely be your best option if you do not want a screen door. Three years ago, I installed a Dreamscreen retractable screen on my double front doors and it has worked perfectly. When it is retracted, guests do not even realize I have one. The only maintenance is spraying silicone lubricant in the tracks each spring.

The design is simple. A tall two-inch square cassette is mounted vertically on the side of the door frame. It is spring loaded so the screen automatically rolls up inside the cassette. A tall mating strip is installed on the other side of the door frame. Horizontal narrow tracks are installed on the top and bottom to support the closed screen and to keep out insects.

To close the screen over the door opening, pull the handle on the cassette side to unroll the screen. Pull it over to the mating strip.

The magnetic edge of the screen sticks to the steel strip on the other side. The spring tension from the cassette holds the screen taut for a crisp appearance.

I have seen the screen bulge out just several times in extremely strong winds. It snaps back into the track when you open it.

Another screening option for front or back doors is a removable hanging screen (www.bug offscreen.com). It takes only a minute or two to put up and take down. Two sections of screening hang from an expandable rod. They stick together in the center with small magnetics and to the door frame sides with hook-and-loop strips.

The following companies offer retractable screens: Alco Ventures, (800) 667-2526, www .miragescreensystems.com; Dreamscreens, (888) 757-0929, www.dreamscreens.com; Eclipse Technologies, (877) 532-5477, www.retractablescreen .com; Phantom Screens, (888) 742-6866, www.phantomscreens .com; Screen-Time, (800) 823-6677, www.screen-time.com.

Foiling the attic

Dear Jim: I have thought about installing foil in my attic as you recommended to keep my house cooler during summer. It should lower my cooling bills, but won’t it increase my heating bills during winter? — Denny R.

Dear Denny: Stapling foil under your roof rafters will have little or no negative effect during winter. The amount of heat radiated down from the roof to the ceiling below is negligible during winter.

Radiant heat transfer from a hot object, such as a roof in the summer sun, is dependent upon its temperature. It can be significant during summer. During winter, the roof temperature is not hot enough to transfer much heat downward anyway. the ceiling below is negligible during winter.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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