Cozy Window Coverings for Winter

Canadians everywhere are bracing for another long, cold season. During winter months, you’re going to want to do whatever you can to make your home or cottage a little warmer so that you and your family can be comfortable. Your home’s windows play a big role in keeping you warm during the winter, but they can be easy to overlook. A great deal of heat can be lost through your windows if the proper precautions aren’t taken, giving you higher hydro bills along with frosty toes. One of the best ways to reduce heat loss and keep your home comfortable throughout the winter is to use the right window coverings for the season.

Why use window coverings to keep your home warm?
During the winter months, older windows are responsible for losing up to 30% of a home’s heating energy. One of the most effective ways to combat this heat loss (other than having new high-performance windows installed) is by using window coverings, which work to insulate your windows and reduce the amount of heat loss, keeping the heat inside your home where it should be. The effectiveness of your window coverings will depend on what type of covering it is, and how effectively it’s used.

What kind of window coverings work best?
One of the most important elements of an effective window covering is fit – in order to act as a barrier to avoid heat loss, a window covering needs to fit as close to your window as possible. The most effective type of window covering for the purpose of keeping you warmer in the winter months are cellular shades, which are designed to fold up like an accordion, and usually sit at the top or bottom of your windows. These coverings are most effective because of their honeycomb-like cross-sections that act as an insulating barrier against energy loss. Cellular shades can reduce heat loss by up to 40% in the winter months, saving you money on utilities and keeping you more comfortable.

Window quilts are another great way to reduce heat loss throughout the winter months and have the distinct advantage of fitting snugly against windows and costing less than cellular shades. While curtains and drapes don’t provide a snug fit against your window, they can reduce heat loss by up to 10%. Traditional shades and blinds also work to reduce winter heat loss, though they are less effective than cellular shades, window quilts, and curtains.

Window coverings are most effective when they’re used strategically by homeowners. The majority of homeowners keep their window coverings in the same position every day, which can actually work against you in the winter months. Opening your coverings on sunny days will let natural light into your home, maximizing the amount of heat in your home. Closing window coverings in the evenings will trap some of this heat inside, lowering the demand on your heating system.

Protect your cottage this winter with security shutters
If you’re planning on shutting down your cottage for the winter, you should strongly consider investing in security shutters that will keep your belongings safe and secure throughout the season. Pentagon security shutters are the best way to ensure that your cottage is protected and your belongings are safe while you’re away, keeping out intruders and protecting your home against extreme weather. Pentagon’s low-maintenance security shutters are custom made to fit your windows perfectly, featuring easy-to-use manual or remote control operation that will restore your unobstructed view to the world around you. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, contact us today.

Featured Product: Ostaco Muskokan Folding Door

Since 1981, Ostaco has specialized in the design of exceptionally high quality window and door units. Ostaco is a family owned and operated window and door manufacturer based out of southern Ontario. As the official Muskoka dealer of all Ostaco windows and doors, we’re proud to display their line of high quality products in our showroom.

One of our favourite Ostaco products is their Muskokan Folding Door, a unit designed specially for Muskoka applications, offering cottage owners a high performing alternative to traditional doors, maximizing viewing areas and adding flare to any property.

Why choose Ostaco?
Ostaco is a family-run business through and through. The company takes pride in being able to stay completely family owned and operated as they grow and evolve, retaining a long-standing team of window and door experts.

For over 35, Ostaco has focused on putting customers first, building a highly responsive customer service network that has earned them the trust and admiration of customers around the province. The team works tirelessly to ensure that all window and door units are manufactured to the highest standards. Ostaco is constantly on the cutting edge, focusing much of their efforts on research and development, allowing them to offer Ontario dealers the most advanced window and door products available.

Maximize your living space with convenient folding doors
The Ostaco folding door is the perfect way to maximize your living space and get the most out of that gorgeous Muskoka scenery. The folding door features a sleek 6 9/16” super-duty frame with a slim welded sash that has been specifically designed to take up less space, letting you get the most out of your living space.

A unique multi-panel design fits rooms of any size, making it perfect for cottage projects of any scope. When the folding door is fully retracted, cottagers have direct access to the outside world. In addition to opening up your home or cottage, the Muskokan Folding Door is also a low-maintenance solution. The door’s PVC material makes it virtually maintenance free, with all exposed aluminum being anodized to prevent corrosion. Additionally, the door features sill with a high drain threshold that makes for great water drainage.

A focus on energy efficiency and security
For cottage owners looking to reduce their utility bills, Osctaco folding doors units are extremely energy efficient, having achieved R-Values of 6 and qualified for Energy Star certification. Energy efficient doors reduce the amount of energy loss, keeping your home warmer in the winter time, and cooler in the summer.

Each unit features a multi-chambered mechanically fastened frame and heavy-duty weather sealant around the door’s frame and sashes, which ensures optimal air and water tightness all year long. Security is also a major focus for Ostaco, with all Muskokan Folding Door units featuring an advanced 3-point locking system, with independent locking systems featured on every other panel to keep you and your family safe and secure.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre is the official Muskoka dealer of Ostaco vinyl window products. For more information about the Ostaco Muskokan Folding Door, as well as the full line of Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

October 2019 in Muskoka: Fall Festivities, Cranberry Festival, Halloween, and More

The summer might be over, but life in Muskoka is still as exciting as ever. The fall season is finally here, bringing with it plenty of beautiful colours and landscapes to enjoy. Whether it’s outdoor activities for the whole family, live music and comedy, or unique festivals, the Muskoka region always has something for everyone no matter what season it is. With Thanksgiving and Halloween right around the corner, there’s no shortage of things for you and the family to do in Muskoka this October.

October 12-14 – Bethune Memorial House Thanksgiving Festival
Where: Bethune Memorial House in Gravenhurst, ON
When: Saturday, October 12th – Monday, October 14th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: $3.90 for adults, $3.40 for seniors, free for children

Each Thanksgiving, the Bethune Memorial House in Gravenhurst hosts the annual Thanksgiving Festival, welcoming visitors from China, Canada, and all around the world to pay their respects to physician Norman Bethune. The Thanksgiving weekend gives visitors an opportunity to see the Bethune Memorial House at its busiest, with tours available all day. The Thanksgiving Festival is the perfect opportunity to see Muskoka at its most beautiful, and learn about Bethune’s humanitarian work in rural China.

Admission and programs available on a first come, first served basis. More information available on the Parks Canada website.

October 18-20 – Bala Cranberry Festival
Where: Citywide in Bala, ON
When: Friday, October 18th to Sunday, October 20th
Cost: $10.00 for adult passes, free for children

The Bala Cranberry Festival is a weekend long event that features hundreds of vendors, entertainers, and performers. Bring the whole family for a full weekend of great food, gorgeous scenery, local shopping, live entertainment, and most importantly – a celebration of the beloved cranberry. The festivities will take place throughout the city of Bala, with plenty of different areas to see, including a petting zoo, beer garden, museum, farmer’s market and much more. Shuttles are available to transport families back and forth, including to and from Gravenhurst. Saturday is the festival’s busiest day, with Sunday designated as Family Day.

For more information about the 2019 Bala Cranberry Festival, visit their website.

October 20 – Orillia Silver Band Fall Harvest
Where: Gravenhurst Opera House in Gravenhurst, ON
When: Sunday, October 20th @ 8:00 PM
Cost: $10.00 to $25.00

The well-known Orillia Silver Band is set to return to the Gravenhurst Opera House for a memorable fall harvest concert. The acclaimed band, conducted by Muskoka region favourite Neil Barlow, will be playing a variety of pieces, beginning with The Light Fantastic by Paul Lovatt-Cooper. Also included in the evening’s performance is A Redbridge Raga by Chris Wilcox, Steven Verhelst’s A Song for Japan, Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, and more. The performance will close with a spectacular rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons, bells, and more.

For tickets to the Orillia Silver Band Fall Festival, visit their website.

October 26 – Let the Spirits Rise in Downtown Gravenhurst
Where: Downtown Gravenhurst, ON
When: Saturday, October 26th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Cost: Free

Gravenhurst’s annual Let the Spirits Rise event takes place returns! For one morning every year, downtown Gravenhurst collectively embraces the spirit of Halloween, hosting a variety of family fun activities. Bring the kids out for trick or treating at downtown shops, and other free family activities at the Gravenhurst Opera House, including face painting, live music, and crafts. Last year’s event featured a costume contest, zombie walk, and a dancing zombies flash mob – who knows what kind of spooky fun this year’s event has in store?

More details to follow – see the Downtown Gravenhurst website for more information.

October 31 – Great Pumpkin Trail
Where: Muskoka Heritage Place – Pioneer Village in Gravenhurst, ON
When: Thursday, October 31st from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM (last entry at 7:30 PM)
Cost: $10.00 per family, or $3.00 per head

The Great Pumpkin Trail serves as a fun alternative to sending your kids out treat or treating from door to door in the dark. The fun begins at 5:00 PM on Halloween Day at the Pioneer Village at Muskoka Heritage Place, letting you and your family trick or treat in a traffic-free environment. Pioneer buildings are decorated by locals, with themes kept on the “not so spooky” side to stay appropriate for younger trick or treaters. The Great Pumpkin Trail is as much an event for parents as it is for kids, giving you a great opportunity to socialize with other parents and take in the music, magic, and mystery of Halloween night while your kids have a safe and fun evening gathering plenty of goodies.For more information, visit the Muskoka Heritage Place website.

Preventing Fires at Your Cottage This Winter

Fire Prevention Week might be over, but the focus on fire safety and prevention should continue all year round. Fires can have life-altering consequences, especially when your personal property is involved. Accidents at your cottage can occur anytime during the year, especially in the winter after you’ve closed your cottage. Being away from the cottage for the season means that you have to think ahead when closing the cottage, taking the proper precautions to avoid the very real threat of fire.

Take a walk around your property

Before leaving your cottage for the season, take a walk around your property and perform an inspection. You should be paying particular attention to any power lines surrounding your home. If these lines look like they’re being threatened by growing tree branches, you’ll want to have them professionally cut or trimmed before you leave. If you don’t own the utility poles on your property, you’ll have to contact your hydro provider to trim branches for you. While you’re considering branches that are at risk of interfering with power lines, remember that they’ll be weighed down by accumulating snowfall and may pose more of a problem than they might currently appear to.

Turn everything off and clean up the cottage

The biggest cause of winter cottage fires is baseboard electric heaters that have been left on over the season. It’s important to turn your baseboard heaters off before leaving for the season to eliminate the threat of fire. If your cottage is heated using central heating or any other type of heating, remember to turn your system down to the lowest setting, or turn it off completely. Take a walk around the interior of your cottage and unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on over the winter.

If you plan on keeping the heat running at a low temperature or appliances plugged in, be sure to clear away any flammable material that may pose a hazard. Fire hazards might include papers, rags, clothing, fuel, firewood, combustibles, and anything else that could catch fire while you’re away. It’s also wise to clean your fireplace, chimney or wood stove if applicable, as it’ll save you time in the spring and reduce the chances of a fire breaking out after you reopen the cottage.

Consider a remote alarm system and proactive road maintenance

For Muskoka cottage owners who are still worried about the possibility of fire over the winter season, a number of alarm systems offer remote fire monitoring that can detect the outbreak of fires and alarm the nearest fire department. Taking proactive measures like this can greatly minimize damage to your property in the event of a fire. It’s also a good idea to consider what might happen if the road to your cottage isn’t taken care of over the season. Snow blockage can slow the approach of the fire department and other first responders to your cottage. In some cases, cottage country fire departments lack the equipment entirely to get into an unplowed road. If your road isn’t currently plowed during the winter season, it might be worth looking into regular road maintenance after storms and major snowfalls to ensure accessibility.

No matter what precautions you’ve taken before leaving your cottage for the winter, it’s recommended that you take photos of everything in and around the property. Doing this will make insurance claims far easier in the event of a fire, theft, or damage to the cottage.

For more information about the high-performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, visit our website or contact us today.

Winter Cottage Care: Snow Load on the Roof

When closing up cottages for the winter, most people set it and forget it. Unfortunately, this can lead to disastrous results, especially with the heavier snow loads that are expected to hit Ontario this winter, combined with colder than normal late-winter temperatures. This means that your cottage roof is going to be accumulating more snow and ice this year than usual. If you don’t intend on checking up on your cottage throughout the winter months, you may want to reconsider or be faced with an unpleasant surprise in the spring. Heavy snow and ice load on your roof can be enough to damage it, or even cause it to cave in. Here’s what you need to know about snow on your cottage roof.

How much snow is too much?
While this might seem like a simple question to answer, the truth is that there’s no definitive answer to how much snow on your roof is too much. Different roofs will be able to sustain longer periods of time with larger snow loads, and others will become damaged depending on the density and depth of the snow load. The slope of your roof is another important element, as steeply pitched roofs tend to throw snow off of them and avoid heavy drifts, whereas roofs with a slight pitch (or no pitch at all), allow for more significant accumulation of snow and the creation of large drifts.

The answer to this question will also depend on the age and condition of your roof and its components, and whether or not it’s been affected by snow accumulation in the past. While there’s no way to truly know how much snow your roof can handle, you can easily determine if your roof has been affected by a heavy snow load.

The signs of a damaged roof
One of the surefire ways to determine whether or not a snow load is affecting the integrity of your roof is to head to the attic and check on the condition of your rafters. If the rafters appear to be bent, there’s a good chance there’s too much snow on your roof. While you’re checking the attic, listen for any unusual sounds – if you’re hearing popping or cracking, it’s probably time to consult a professional. You can also look for signs of damage by checking if interior doors are sticking or have become difficult to open and close. If they have, the snow load on the roof is probably starting to distort your home’s door frames. Looking for new cracks in drywall is another way to spot damage.

Commit to removing snow, or find a contractor before it’s too late
The most effective way to avoid snow from damaging your roof is to periodically check in on your cottage throughout the season, removing snowdrifts whenever you feel is appropriate. This can be done by using a roof rake to pull accumulated snow and ice down from the roof while taking care not to damage the shingles or flashing. Remember that you don’t have to remove every inch of snow from your roof in order to get the job done – alleviating the snow load will do enough to prevent damage.

If you want to avoid the hassle of having to check on the cottage after each major snowfall or aren’t confident in your ability to remove snow from the roof, you might want to find a contractor to manage the snow load for you. If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to get in contact with somebody sooner rather than later. Schedules tend to fill up quickly during the winter, especially when snowfall is projected to be heavier than normal. Being proactive about hiring a contractor ensures that your cottage will be in good hands all winter, and will save you from having to make a day trip to the cottage. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, contact us today.