If you are like me, you have had single pane windows in your home at one point or another. You can tell when winter arrives because these windows do a really poor job keeping the cold out and the heat inside your home. Old windows usually have several coats of paint on them and as a result of they are often hard to open. They can also be challenging to keep open since the rope weight and pulley system that keeps them open is often rotted. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t like switching out the screens and storm windows in preparation for the winter.
While new windows are not the best way to control the largest amount of energy loss in your home, they do significantly help with energy loss, and they often have a number of other advantages as well. There are several different types of replacement windows available in today’s market.
The basic concept with the replacement window is that you remove the existing window sashes and install a whole new window (jambs and sashes) inside of the existing window jamb. This allows for a less invasive replacement of your window than required when replacing the entire window system – jamb and all. The one downside to using these replacement options as opposed to a “new construction” window is that you will lose a small amount of glass space due to having the new jamb in addition to the original window jamb.
The other replacement window option is using a wood or vinyl replacement sash and new tracks in place of the original weight and pulley system to keep the window open. This is slightly more expensive, but allows you to keep the look of the original window but also benefit from the advantages of new windows.
New windows have several advantages over the old wooden or metal windows. You can get a single hung window which allows you to open the bottom window as well as tilt it in for cleaning. These windows usually come with a half screen. The other option is to get a double hung window which allows you to open either the upper or lower sash as well as being able to tilt them both in for air movement or cleaning. Most new windows come with a safety latch which allows you to be able to crack the window 3-4” and stop it from opening any further.
There are a few things you will want to consider when deciding what type of new windows to select – looks, functionality, ratings and warranty:
Looks: Do you want the look and feel of real wood? Keep in mind you will have to paint wood winders every few years. Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance free. Aluminum clad wood windows are more durable on the exterior than the wooden ones, but provide the look of wooden windows on the interior.
Functionality: Double hung and single hung windows open up/down or sideways. They typically have a tilt-in feature that allows for easier cleaning. Casement windows crank open sideways which can provide air movement – catching any breezes that may be blowing along the side of your house. Casement windows can crank open far enough to allow you to clean the outside of the window from inside the room.
Ratings: Windows also carry a few rating numbers that you want to consider.
U-Factor: The U-factor is a rating that indicates how much heat loss will occur with the window. The lower the number the better the U-Factor is. A rating of .30 is an efficient window.
SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient): This number is a rating between 0 and 1 and indicated the amount of sun’s heat that passes through the window. A rating of .30 will let 30% of the sun’s heat pass through the window. In the southeast, the lower this number is the better. We want the light without having the heat come through in the summer – additional heat requires additional work on our cooling systems.
Warranty: Last but not least is the warranty. Some window companies offer anywhere from a single year warranty to a lifetime warranty on the glass breakage of their windows. Some of these are transferrable from the original owner to the next owner.
Replacing existing windows can help manage heating/cooling costs, improve functionality, and increase your home’s resale value. When choosing the method of replacement – there are numerous options available to you from full replacement to partial replacement systems. When choosing your new windows make sure to consider the look and feel, functionality, efficiency ratings, and warranty information. Thinking through these options before deciding on a replacement approach will help you make informed decisions and get the best value for your money. Remember – these maintenance matters can save you time and money in the long run. Until next time.