Windows are an essential part of every home. They invite light indoors, add beauty inside and outside, and make the difference between affordable and exorbitant utility bills.
As such, replacing your windows is a job that should not be done on auto-pilot. Here are five things to consider when buying new windows.
1. Price is not directly proportional to performance
Instead of cost, pay attention to the elements of a window’s description and installation so you get a durable frame that is insulated and has a low-emissivity coating, along with spacer and gas fills. All of those details affect a window’s ability to prevent airflow between the inside and outside of your house.
The low-e coating is “a microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layer deposited directly on the surface of one or more of the panes of glass,” explains the U.S. Department of Energy. It lets sunlight in while preventing the warmth inside from passing outside.
Spacer and gas fills are used in double-paned windows to add insulation that is more effective than just having air between the panes of glass.
Finally, a weathertight seal stops leaks around the edges of your window.
2. Choose windows that match your local climate
The key is to look at U-factor, a number that tells you how well a window is insulated and can resist heat flow. The National Fenestration Rating Council rating method is the standard, with a range from 0.20-1.20. As with golf scores, low numbers are better.
“Low U-factors are most important in heating dominated climates, although they are also beneficial in cooling dominated climates,” the Efficient Windows Collaborative says.
Additionally, your climate will dictate what glazing you want on your window. You can improve your U-factor number by using triple glazing on your windows, thereby increasing efficiency and saving you money on energy bills.
3. Focus on additional features that improve value
An easy-to-operate window sash is important in a sliding window. It is the framed part of the window made up of several pieces and, as The Spruce points out “if the pieces were disassembled, no sash would exist.” Those pieces include the grille, which you can personalize to add style and value.
If you’re worried about critters getting into your home, opt for full screens so you can open your replacement windows to welcome fresh air without inviting bugs inside.
4. Look for window styles that complement your architecture
Whether you have a traditional or modern home, choose windows in a coordinating style. From casement and bay windows to contemporary sliding and picture windows, choose a look that fits your space.
For example, window replacement company Renewal by Andersen uses a material called Fibrex that can be made into any type of window.
“Our special extrusion process allows us to craft your windows to any shape, meaning you can match the architectural style of your home or choose to define a new look,” the company writes on its blog. “In this same process, the color is fused into the material, offering you a wide palette of long-lasting colors to choose from — even dark exterior colors not found with most other replacement windows.”
5. Keep energy efficiency in mind
Windows are a vital aspect of your home’s energy efficiency, with heating and cooling costs taking up almost half of your utility bill according to energy.gov. That’s why it’s key to look at the performance of the entire window, not just one part of it, and use a company that understands the need for efficiency.