Unsure sure of how to go about deciding which windows need replacing in your home, and want to do some of your own research? We’ve clipped a few of our favorite excerpts from various articles on the web to provide them to you in one place. Give us a call when you’re ready for your installation, or need a little help on the selection process.
“Replacement windows aren’t the right choice for every home. Bruce Irving, a Cambridge, Mass.-based home-renovation consultant and a former producer of the long-running renovation show This Old House, gets especially passionate about people replacing historical wood windows. Irving says that especially in older homes, original windows are an integral part of a house’s character, and homeowners who believe they need to upgrade these windows’ energy efficiency should first try to add rather than subtract. “With a good storm window over it, original wood windows can equal the energy performance of a modern window.”
Situations that may warrant window replacement, though, include the following:
- Your windows have single-pane glass or temperature-conductive frames and sashes. Most window and construction experts agree that homes with cheap, poorly-performing windows can almost always benefit from window replacement.
- Your windows are in poor condition. Beyond efficiency concerns, windows in poor condition can contribute to water leaks, humidity problems in the home and even pest infestations. Cracked windowpanes, non-operational windows and rotting frames, sashes or sills on wood windows are all good reasons to consider replacement.
- Your windows pose safety problems. Windows that don’t open or shut completely or that are weak or loose because of improper maintenance or damage are good candidates for replacement. And if your home has upper-floor rooms with windows that don’t open, consider replacing them with operable windows and placing an easy-to-use fire ladder in the room so the windows can serve as exits in case of emergency.”
“Price doesn’t indicate performance. Among double-hung clad wood windows, a pricey and bottom-rated window from Andersen, $500, wasn’t good at keeping out cold air and was so-so at keeping out rain. A $450 Kolbe vinyl double-hung was impressive, but a top-rated $260 Simonton was even better. All of the casement windows aced all tests. Prices varied by frame material; the top-scoring American Craftsman vinyl window, $260, is the least expensive casement. All prices are for a 3×5-foot window.
Match windows to climate. Look at the overall scores in our window Ratings, then zero in on test results that apply to where you live. If your home is exposed to high winds and cold temperatures, look for windows that were excellent at low-temperature wind resistance.
Don’t overspend on options. Upgrades can easily add 50 percent or more to the base cost of a window. Focus on features that add value. Low-E coatings improve efficiency, but triple glazing probably isn’t necessary unless you live in an extremely cold climate. Double-hung window sashes that tilt in make cleaning easier, and full screens allow optimum airflow when the top window is lowered and bottom window raised. Finer meshed screens let more light through and do not obscure the view as much as standard screens.”
“Some windows feature two layers of glass — double-pane — or three layers — triple-plane. Air or argon gas — which has better insulating properties — is sealed between the panes as an insulator. If the unit is properly constructed, condensation shouldn’t occur between the panes, but a drying agent, called a desiccant, may be used between the panes as added protection from condensation.
Low-emissivity (Low-E) glass has a coating that allows light in, but blocks much of the heat that contacts it. A Low-E coating can help keep your home cool on a hot day by reducing the exterior heat entering your home. On a cold day it can keep most of the interior heat from escaping through the glass. Low-E glass also reduces the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light entering the home, helping protect carpets, upholstery and furniture from fading.
The U-Value or U-Factor of the window indicates the rate at which heat flows through the window and frame and measures overall energy efficiency. A lower U-value means the window will insulate better.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is a specification that indicates how much solar energy passes through the window. A higher number means the window allows a higher percentage of solar heat to pass through. If you live in the South, you may want to consider windows with lower SHGC ratings to block heat in the summer and reduce cooling costs. In the North, you may want to look for windows with higher ratings to allow the sun to aid in warming your home.”