The process of choosing new windows for your home can have a positive effect on other things within your home, or negative, if you make a bad choice. Naturally, the most important feature here is energy efficiency, along with their design and functionality. I’ll try to help you bring the right decision.
Some might argue that the appearance of the windows doesn’t matter, but that is not true. Their visual features can have influence their functionality. For instance, casement windows add a special look to the hurricane-prone areas of the American South. But the design in that part of the world prevails because of hurricanes. On the other hand, picture windows are perfect for a colder climate, since they let in more daylight. So, the design of windows plays an important role, indeed.
Panes are the essential parts of every window, but you should never underestimate the importance of frames. From the materials used for making frames to the installation process, it requires wide knowledge of frames and dexterity for placing them properly into their space. In the light of overall efficiency, the most useful frame materials are: fiberglass, wood-clad and vinyl.
You can read a lot from a window glass. There are stickers on panes that inform buyers on their energy features. If a window manufacturer wants to earn the Energy Star rating, their windows have to meet requirements for U-value, which determines how resistant a window is to heat loss and SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient), which refers to the amount of heat that gets through the glass, into a home. The lower these two parameters are, the higher ranking the window will have.
Now we have come to the most important feature of every window: the glass. The key element of the glass for windows today is how much heat they keep inside the house and how much cold they let into your home. You need to save energy, but also opt for the glass whose production and maintenance meets certain ecological standards, which makes double glazing a truly green retrofit. Windows maintained this way last longer and take a higher position on the efficiency scale.
Changing all the windows at once can be a demanding financial challenge. That is why you could apply a more rational solution. Depending on the climate which you live in, you could start with the windows that are most exposed to extreme weather conditions. For instance, the side of your home that is under the constant attack of storm winds has to get new, casement windows.
Also, you could combine different shapes and types for different purposes and parts of your home. For instance, getting windows filled with gas could be useful for those living in a colder climate, while residents of Los Angeles will certainly not buy such windows.
Sometimes old windows can be successfully refurbished. Their efficiency can be increased that way and you could also save some money. For example, if you have old wood frames and don’t want to get any modern solutions, you should only remove the old coat of paint, sandpaper the frames and apply a new layer of paint. On the other hand, if your window frame is in good shape, but the glass cracks, it can also be replaced.
Windows should not be replaced unless there is a financial evaluation showing that the replacement will pay off. Once you decide to install new ones, follow our guidelines for getting attractive, functional and efficient windows.
Written By Lillian Conners
Exclusively for Homes Re-Imagined