When choosing the right windows, homeowners of today no longer see windows as just a frame for the glass. Many of us now view windows from an energy-conscious perspective to best choose a window that minimizes the energy costs of heating and cooling their homes. Whether you plan to get new windows to replace your existing ones or for a brand new house, it’s important to know which windows will satisfy you at an affordable cost.
When getting your replacement windows, calculate how cost-effective your new ones will be through a home energy audit. This gives you a rough gauge of where the main areas that are energy draining and how damaging they are.
It’s really important to have an understanding of where the heat transmissions issues are located in your house before you start replacing your windows. It will be wise to avoid spending a ton of money for a house window renovation when your problems can actually be solved with something a lot cheaper like some weatherstripping.
Bruce Irving, a home-renovation consultant and the former producer of the renovation show, This Old House, believes that homeowners who are about energy efficiency should first consider adding rather than subtracting. Sometimes, we don’t really need to replace our windows.
When to replace your windows
However, there are some situations that require you to change your windows such as:
- Your safety is being compromised — Your windows put you at risk as they are unable to open or close completely, or are generally loose due to a lack of maintenance.
- Your windows are in poor condition — Your windows are not efficient, susceptible to water leaks over time, rots due to humidity or has pest infestation problems.
- Your windows are poor-performing — This is often the case when your windows have a single-pane glass or conduct heat easily.
If your situation calls for a window replacement, consider these four factors when selecting models that are energy efficient: design, frame, glass, and installation. My Affordable Glass and Remodeling has some good options if you do need to replace your windows.
While the aesthetic design of windows is an important part to ensure a right fit into the house, let’s talk about the functional design of windows. Transoms are the horizontal rectangular area above the windows that provide an inlet for fresh air. Some manufacturers do provide “active” transoms that are able to open up and provide a more appealing feel due to their dimensional features on the wall.
Homeowners that are more environmentally conscious should consider semi-circular shaped windows that do not open.
Most of us are aware that a wood frame has higher insulating properties as compared to an aluminum frame as metals tend to conduct heat more easily as compared to wood. But there are also other or even better choices to save on energy and electricity bills. Here are some materials that you should consider for your window frame that are decked in their respective pros and cons:
- Vinyl — It is a practical, more affordable material that offers great energy efficiency measures and reduces any air leakages. However, there are limited choices in color.
- Wood — The material offers the best insulation but needs more effort in maintaining it as compared to wood-clad, vinyl, and aluminum frames. It may not be suitable for humid and rainy climates.
- Aluminum — The metal does not insulate heat well but is practical for rainy and humid climates. They also meet stringent coastal building codes in areas that are susceptible to hurricanes.
- Wood-clad — These windows are great as wood frames are easy to maintain and have insulating properties.
- Composite — This material is made from a mix of wood shavings and plastic resins. It’s look resembles wood but requires minimal maintenance. It is also an eco-friendly choice due to its use of recycled plastics.
- Fiberglass — It is a mix of glass fibers and polyester resins. The windows are more pricey relative to the other similar windows but produce several advantages. Not only is it very energy efficient but also portrays features such as its durability and can be repainted several times.
Rycorp Construction’s president, John Lala, is very familiar with the complete range of window choices that are efficient in nature. He has built many different kinds of houses for very eco-friendly homeowners, and he mostly uses windows that have the standard energy efficiency attributes.
For an additional $40 per window, homeowners are able to acquire a double-pane window with low-E glass together with vacuum-sealed argon fill. This small investment is able to produce long-term benefits as shown in their utility bills. Lala states that he realizes that this is the most optimal solution for glasses that gives you the most bang for your buck and doing more actually just costs more and provides diminishing benefits in terms of efficiency.
When you select such windows, you are getting a lot more insulation compared to a single-pane window. This means that you are able to get more protection from the sun’s heat as well as harmful UV rays during summer and prevent the escape of much-needed heat during the winter. Thus, you will be able to achieve energy efficiency through these improved windows.
Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to find out the efficiency of each window as those in the Energy Star program will have ratings displayed on stickers by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).
If you’ve put in a huge fortune into your windows, it would be a great downer if the windows don’t perform well due to incorrect installation. Be conscious of contractors who rely too much on sealants or expanding foams in order to help a window to fit as these materials can lead to many problems in the future due to their non-waterproof features. Pre-installation waterproofing is the best option. Proper caulking and flashing are the least expensive parts when it comes to window installation but have to be done meticulously to prevent any future problems for water leaks.
Certain window designs are also more efficient such as:
- Double-hung windows
- Casement windows
- Picture windows
Now that you have a clearer understanding of what to look out for, you’re ready to choose your very own windows. Focus on making sure what suits your home and how to minimize the amount of energy consumption your home uses.