In our last post, we looked at some scenarios in which homeowners might want to consider window replacement. If you have decided to replace your old windows with energy-efficient ones, there are four main factors to consider: frame, glass, design, and installation.


Frame


There are many different materials used in window frames. You’ll find vinyl, aluminum, wood, wood-clad, composite, and fiberglass frames. Vinyl is inexpensive but still offers decent energy efficiency. The downside is that vinyl has a limited color choice. Wood windows are great insulators, but require more maintenance. Aluminum are less energy efficient, but work well in wet climates. Wood-clad windows are good insulators and are strong; however, they are prone to moisture intrusion - which can cause rot. Composite windows, made from wood shavings and plastic resins, look like wood but are fully maintenance free. Fiberglass windows are more expensive, but are extremely efficient and durable.


Glass


In general, a double-pane window with low-E glass and a vacuum-sealed argon fill is what most people want when getting new windows. These features make the window a bit more expensive, but in the end they offer greater savings on your home’s utility bills. These windows help keep heat and UV rays out of your house in the summer, and prevent heat from escaping in the winter.


Also keep in mind the window’s U-value, which measures a window’s resistance to heat loss, and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), which measures how much heat enters a home through the glass. For both of these, the lower the number, the better.


Design


The design is where your home’s appearance can greatly improve. Consult with your window installation contractor about what kinds of designs would work best in your home. For example, if you’re looking for energy efficiency, you’ll want to stay away from certain configurations, like fixed windows.


Installation


If you don’t have a good installation, even the fanciest windows in the world won’t perform how they should. Skimping in installation could cause greater issues down the road, so if you’re looking at getting new windows, make sure you hire a professional window installer.


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