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You’ve finally decided to replace your home’s windows but find yourself facing a wide array of choices. Replacement windows for an entire house aren’t cheap; the average cost of replacing 10 3x5 windows is $10,000. But keep in mind that if you choose a quality product your home won’t need new windows for many years.
Look for Energy Efficiency
Replacement windows come in a variety of types. Most new windows are double-pane, which means there are two pieces of glass with a space of air between them. For more insulated windows, manufacturers are adding insulating gas instead of air in the middle to cut down on heat loss. The materials used to make the glass are also becoming more advanced, as more effort is being made to make energy efficient windows that are attractive and affordable.
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Choose Your Material
Frame work of new windows is basically made of four types of material: wood, vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. Wood replacement windows are the best insulator but require a lot of maintenance such as painting or staining to protect them from the elements. Vinyl replacement windows are very popular and much more affordable than similar wood versions. Choosing vinyl will give you energy efficient windows with low maintenance. Aluminum windows are also low cost and energy efficient, but because the frame is made with metal, they tend to lose more heat. Fiberglass windows are made from the same material used in car bumpers and are very durable. While they also are energy efficient, they cost more than vinyl replacement windows and can painted.
There are different glass and framing options to consider when purchasing replacement windows; here is an explanation of the different glass choices to help guide your decision:
Double-Pane: The double-pane (insulated) glass traps air between the two panes of glass increasing insulation.
Low-E (Hard Coat): Low-emissivity is a thin, metal, transparent coating applied to the pane of glass to reduce heat transfer through the window. This coating reflects solar heat outside in the summer and reflects radiant (furnace) heat inside in the winter. In addition, it blocks about 30-45% of UV rays protecting furniture, wood and artwork. On a cold day, low-e will be 40 degrees warmer than a single-pane glazing and 10 degrees warmer than a double-pane glazing. (R-Value of 2.85 to 3.8, U-Value 0.35 to 0.30)
Low-E (2) or Sputtered Low-E (Soft Coat): The difference between this and regular low-e is that it includes a sputtered (layered) coating instead of a single coating. This further increases insulation and UV protection.
Wood, vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass are the choices you have in window frames. Vinyl is usually a good option because sunshine and harsh weather can damage even the best of frames. Here are the different types of framing:
Aluminum: Strong and customizable but conducts heat rapidly, scratches easily and is prone to heavy condensation and corrosion.
Wood: Higher-maintenance, which requires painting or staining.
Vinyl: Come in a variety of styles and shapes. Vinyl windows have a high R-value and are low maintenance. Vinyl insulates better than steel or aluminum because it is a non-conductive material. Not all vinyl replacement windows are constructed well. It is best to stick with a proven, reliable manufacturer.
Fiberglass: New and not yet fully tested. Fiberglass theoretically can have a high R-value but has not been around long enough to understand the implications.
If you’ve going to invest in new windows for your home, don’t skimp on quality. Making a wise decision about the type of replacement window you buy can not only enhance your home’s appearance, but can help save on heating and cooling bills for years to come.