You’d think getting new windows for your home would be as easy as going to the store and just picking one out and order it. But shopping for windows requires a little more effort than that.
Windows today have more features than ever before. Plus, you want to make sure you select windows that will last a longer period. After all, you don’t want to have to shop for windows for at least another 10-15 years.
When shopping for windows, you want to consider the following features:
Windows can be found in vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fibreglass frames. Wood requires more maintenance than any of the other but many homeowners prefer it because it is durable and can be easily painted any colour they want. Clad-frames which have either vinyl or aluminum shell and come in different thickness ranging from as thick as extruded aluminum to think as a soda can. Vinyl-clad windows are the easiest to maintain and don’t require painting. They insulate as well as wood and are a cheaper option.
The glass you select should depend on where the location in which the window will be placed. You have different types of window glass such as:
- Single-pane glass: Not so commonly used anymore, this glass is typically used for homes and outbuildings in mild climates.
- Double-Pane glass: The glass features a secure air space between the layers of the glass to reduce the loss of heat. Its insulation capabilities are far better than single-pane. You can even get them with an invisible metal coating with additional insulation.
- Triple-pane window: For homes in cooler climates, triple-pane windows are the best option. The air space sealed in these glasses come with a mix of argon or krypton gases to provide adequate insulation to keep the heat from escaping from inside the home. It helps you save money on your energy bill when the weather gets cooler.
The energy efficiency of the window
The R-value and U-factor of the window will tell you its energy efficiency, especially for those that want to reduce their environmental footprint. Most casual buyers overlook this but this particular value can end up saving you quite a few on your energy bill. The higher the R-value of a window, the more insulation it provides. A single-pane window usually has an R-value of 1, double-pane a value that can go up to 4, while a triple-pane has a value in the range of 5 to 7.
The U-factor grades the flow of non-solar heat through the window. The lower the value of the U-factor the more efficient the window is in terms of energy. If you decide to go with a lower budgeted window with a low R-value, curtains and drapery can help preserve energy and keep heat inside when it’s cold and ensure the cool air doesn’t escape when it’s hot.
For most homeowners, the cost is probably on top of the list but it shouldn’t be. Having your new windows installed can increase the value of your home, so think of it as an investment rather than an expense. New windows, if you shop wisely can also contribute to lowering your energy bill by nearly 5-10% annually. So spending a little more on a double-pane window with a higher R-value can end up saving you a little money in the long run.
The aesthetics of the window is dependent on the style you choose. Now, when you are getting new windows installed, you have the chance to change the outlook of your home. Personal preference plays a role in this. The most common window style homeowners opt for are:
- Casement windows: These windows open up like a door with hinges on the side of the frame.
- Double-hung windows: The traditional sliding up and down the window, but these have a spring mounted mechanism instead of the pulley style that was common before.
- Sliding windows: These windows don’t require much maintenance and are also low-cost options. These windows only open halfway which means they don’t provide full ventilation.
- Bay windows: These windows help give a room a more spacious feel and open with a sliding up and down mechanism.
Keep in mind that when you go to buy a window, they do take several weeks, especially if you get them customized. Which means, don’t start removing your existing windows right away.
Look over the checklist create your own ranking in which particular features matter to you at the top. For example, if cost ranks higher than material, then you can skip wooden windows altogether. But make sure to include all the listed features in your checklist. This way you cover all your bases and get the best windows for your home.
Zana is a window treatments consultant with over 20 years of experience.
Author – Zana Dodig’s