So you’re getting ready to purchase replacement windows and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry. The team at All Weather Window, Doors and Siding is here to help! All you have to do is break it down into five simple decisions. Take one at a time and soon you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for. Use these five basic categories to make your decisions easy:
1) Determine the Window Type
Windows come in a variety of styles. Here’s a little visual guide to help.
Generally speaking, plan to replace the windows with the same style unless there’s a good reason not to. For instance, if your window is a casement window, but you’d rather be able to open that window, you can replace it with a double-hung. If you’d like to be able to open the window, but there is a walkway in front of it, you could switch to a sliding or gliding window that won’t intrude past the wall it is placed in when opened. Similarly, if you have two double-hung windows in your dining room, but for aesthetic reasons you’d prefer a picture window (or perhaps a bay or bow window), you can replace them with that style. Double-hung, casement, awning, sliding/gliding, picture, or specialty.
2) Choose the Materials
You have five choices when it comes to what your windows are made of: solid wood, vinyl- or aluminum-clad wood, solid vinyl, aluminum, or Fibrex (a composite material exclusive to Andersen windows). When comparing, look at these six performance areas – strength, insulation, beauty, maintenance, warranty, and price. Each type of window material will have advantages and disadvantages, so take your time when deciding which one makes more sense for you.
3) Energy Performance
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) operates a voluntary program that tests, certifies, and labels windows based on their energy performance ratings. The NFRC label provides a reliable way to determine a window’s energy properties and to compare products. The NFRC label can be found on all ENERGY STAR® qualified windows.
ENERGY STAR bases its qualification on U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient ratings. These properties can be measured and rated according to the following energy performance characteristics:
U-factor is the rate at which a window conducts non-solar heat flow. It’s usually expressed in units of Btu/hr-ft2-oF. For windows, a U-factor may refer to just the glass or glazing alone. NFRC U-factor ratings, however, represent the entire window performance, including frame and spacer material. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window.
Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is the fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window either transmitted directly and/or absorbed, and subsequently released as heat inside a home. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits and the greater its shading ability. A product with a high SHGC rating is more effective at collecting solar heat during the winter. A product with a low SHGC rating is more effective at reducing cooling loads during the summer by blocking heat gain from the sun.
Air leakage is the rate of air movement around a window in the presence of a specific pressure difference across it. It’s expressed in units of cubic feet per minute per square foot of frame area (cfm/ft2). A product with a low air leakage rating is tighter than one with a high air leakage rating.
If you’d like to learn more, you can read about energy performance ratings.
4) Decide the Details
What your window looks like is very important. Color, grille, and trim choices should work with your home’s style. Grille patterns, including colonial, prairie, and custom-designed windows, will allow you to match your new windows to your home’s current architecture, change your look, or even complete a historically accurate renovation. If you’d like to see what works best with your home, check out the Home Style Library here.
5) Size It Up
Choose to replace with standard sizes if possible. Most windows come in increments of 2 or 4 inches, so there’s often no need to order custom sizes. Standard sizes will save you money. Save where you can and that will allow you to splurge when it’s really worth it and still stay within budget.
If you need information about replacement windows, give us a call at All Weather window, Doors & Siding and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions. We will guide you through the choices that will work best for your project. We want you to know a little about the features you want, so you can be 100% happy with and confident in the choices you make.