Finding the Right Fit for You & Your Home
Owning a home for a while means you have time to learn its ins and outs – literally! Whether your home was built more recently or decades ago, you eventually discover what’s working and what isn’t at your house. However, one area that we commonly forget about or pay less attention to are our windows. This can be costly in the long run, because improper or damaged windows can lead to a leaky, drafty, noisy, and drab-looking home. But before you go off and start searching for replacement windows, it helps to know how to choose the best ones for your home and budget.
Breaking Down a Window
When selecting replacement windows, it’s important to understand the parts of a traditional window and how they function within the window. Knowing how each window works, and what’s optional compared to a “must-have”, will only help save you time and money throughout the process!
- Frame – Provides the shape and structure for the window.
- Cladding – Helps protect the exterior or any composite or wood windows. These can be made from many materials, like aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass – so you never need to paint it.
- Sash – The moving part of each window, often can be titled in for ease of cleaning.
- Insulated Glass Layer – If you choose double-glazed windows, this is the sealed space between two panes of glass filled with air or another gas that insulates better than air (usually argon).
- Low-E Coating – An optional layer of coating that helps improve window efficiency by letting more light in, while reflecting heat. Depending on your climate, it can be applied outside the glass (hotter climates) or inside the glass (colder climates).
- Grille – The decorative lining over the window glass itself, can match many different architectural/décor styles.
The Right Numbers to Know
One of the main benefits of adding replacement windows to your home is saving money on your energy bills every year. But when you’re choosing from Energy Star certified energy-efficient windows, there are some key terms and numbers that you’ll need to know to make the best choice:
- Visible Transmittance – This value is used to indicate how much light a window lets into your home and is represented between 0 and 1. The more towards 1, the more light is let in.
- U-Factor/Value – This value is used to indicate how much heat a window keeps in, usually ranging from .20 to 1.20. The lower the number, the more heat it’s able to keep in.
- Solar Heat Coefficient – This value indicates how effective a window is at repelling unneeded heat from the sun, usually ranging between 0 and 1. The lower the number, the better the window is at blocking heat – making this another decision impacted by your climate.
Tally Up Your Totals
Once you’ve got a handle on all the right features and values of your replacement window options, it’s time to get a handle on each one’s cost. Remember, even the most budget-friendly energy-efficient windows can skyrocket in cost if you go for unnecessary upgrades. Here are a few upgrades to consider (dependent on your climate) that are often worth the cost:
- Impact-Resistant Glass – Not only helps reduce noise, but if you live in an area that’s exposed to lots of wind or storms, it can also keep your home and family safe as well.
- Grilles Between Glass (GBG) – This inexpensive upgrade allows you to have decorative grilles installed between the glass panes of your window instead of affixed to the outside. This still provides a sharp look and makes cleaning your new windows easier as well.
- Triple-Insulating Glass – Much like the name states, this is a third added layer of glass in your window. This not only helps further your energy savings and heat retention, it also cuts down on outside noise too.
There are many decisions that go into choosing the best replacement windows for your home, but so long as you’re informed and prepared – you can find what’s right for you. Just remember, price doesn’t always reflect performance, so don’t be afraid to set a hard budget and stick to it. That way you can ensure your new windows improve your house and that you see the savings year after year!