Replacement Windows: Making the Best Choice

replacement windowsAre you thinking about replacing the windows in your home with better, energy efficient windows? There’s a lot to think about when deciding what to buy.

In addition to energy efficiency, you have the choice of different types and designs of windows. Some things to consider when deciding on your windows:

  1. Energy Efficiency – Some window designs are more efficient than others. For example,
    1. Double-hung windows are traditionally found in many homes. They can be an efficient choice and easy to keep clean.
    2. Casement windows are popular in windy areas. These windows have a crank that swings the window outward to open and seal themselves tight when the wind blows in toward the house.
    3. Picture windows don’t usually open and come in many shapes and sizes. This doesn’t mean they aren’t efficient depending on your glass choice and gas filled interiors. These are popular in larger rooms.
  2. What’s inside the frame? – A double-paned window will provide significantly more insulation than a single-pane. That’s because there is usually Argon gas between the two panes, offering additional insulation. There are other options with additional costs associated with them that may or may not be more energy efficient. This will depend on your specific location.
  3. What’s the best choice for frames? – Some materials are less prone to heat and cold transfer than others. Your ultimate choice will depend on what looks best on your home and your budget. Here are some options:
    1. Vinyl – Vinyl may be your least expensive option but that doesn’t mean it’s not the best. A well-constructed and properly installed vinyl window can be the most practical choice for your home and budget and still offer excellent energy efficiency through insulated glass and tight construction that reduces air leakage.
    2. Wood offers a great insulative value since wood doesn’t conduct temperature as easy as metals. They do require more upkeep than vinyl, wood-clad or aluminum frames. There is also potential for rot which means wood may not be your best choice.
    3. Aluminum is not the top performing material in terms of heat loss but they are practical in rainy and humid climates. They meet coastal building codes in hurricane-prone areas; but in the northeast may not be worth the expense.
    4. Wood-clad windows seemingly offer the best of both worlds. A low maintenance exterior, usually vinyl or aluminum, encases a temperature-transfer-resistant wood interior. One caution against these windows is in wetter climates as wood-clad windows can be prone to water intrusion, which can cause rotting where water tends to pool. Proper installation of wood-clad windows should include waterproof rubber membranes around the cladding and the sill pan. This will minimize moisture intrusion and wood deterioration.

As with any home renovation, your contractor can recommend the best option for your home type and location.

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