You know how your heart skips a beat every time the heating bill comes in the middle of winter? Or when your air conditioning has been running full blast, all summer, and your electric bill arrives?
What can you do to prevent utility bill shock? Your first, best bet is to replace your old windows.
Of course, if rising energy costs are not a concern for you (and your heart) there are other great reasons to replace the windows in your house:
- Comfort: New windows can eliminate cold drafts or excessive heat in your home.
- Security: Windows and doors are the most insecure parts of any home. Windows made today have heavier frames, durable locking systems, and stronger mounting methods for glass.
- Maintenance: Today, with tilt-in, sliding or rotating sashes, windows can be cleaned easier and don’t need new paint on a regular basis.
- Home Value: Replacement windows can beautify a home and will add value when it’s time to sell.
If you have an older home and it still has the original windows, you could be missing out on all the modern technological advances that have come along in home window design. Most new windows have a double or triple pane – which means there are two or more sections of glass in the window, with air space in between – but there are many styles to choose from:
- Double-hung Windows – are the most common windows available today. Either the top or bottom half of the window opens up. They open by sliding the bottom half of the window up or sliding the top half down. Because only half of the window area can be open at one time, they provide less ventilation than casement style windows. Windows made today use a spring balance mechanism to allow the halves of the window to slide easily.
- Single-hung Windows – are similar to double-hung windows but only the bottom half of the window sash opens. Both single and double-hung windows are readily available, which can keep costs down. Both do not have the best energy efficiency ratings because the sashes slide across the weather-stripping, rather than pressing into it like a casement window.
- Casement Windows – usually swing outward, on pivot devices, and are usually operated with a hand crank. They provide great ventilation because both sections of the window open up. They seal tighter when closed because they press up against the frame, rather than slide across it. And casement windows can be cleaned entirely from the indoors.
- Awning windows – are hinged on the top or bottom rather than on the side and they can swing in or they can swing out. Since the sash presses against the frame, they seal out air effectively. They provide a more contemporary look and can even be left open when it’s raining.
- Bay & Bow windows – are projected windows with multiple panes. Bay windows are polygonal and Bow windows come out in a semi-circle. Bay windows usually have at least three sections and Bow windows start with at least four sections. They can provide more space in a room and can also improve a view.
- Sliding windows – have sashes that move horizontally. There are single and double sliding windows, where either only one or both of the sashes slide respectively. These windows are generally less expensive and fairly easy to clean.
- Fixed-Frame windows – do not open, which means they do not allow any ventilation or cleaning from indoors, but they are sealed to prevent any air flow. They are relatively inexpensive and can come in nearly any size.
- Rotating windows – pivot on a central point from either the top or the sides. They allow great ventilation because the entire window area is completely open. It’s easy to clean rotating windows because the exterior surface can spin inside. With a reflective coating on the glass, the windows can be used to reflect heat out in summer or in during the winter.
Many replacement windows now come in a variety of materials, depending on your needs. It’s important to consider your climate when choosing window materials. Areas with harsher winters, with extensive humidity and moisture, and with constant heat can affect the materials in replacement windows:
- Wooden Windows – are not a common replacement material but are sometimes used to meet local neighborhood restrictions or aesthetic reasons (a wooden window is still the best looking window on the market.) They can be painted, stained, and varnished to any taste. With the right glass, wooden windows have excellent energy efficiency ratings. They require more maintenance and can shrink, swell, fade, and crack. The can also be expensive, depending on the type of wood.
- Vinyl Windows – are a competitively priced way to improve the look of a home. They can be made to fit nearly any window opening, don’t need paint, and will not shrink or swell. The frame size cannot be too large because the windows are flexible. Depending on the manufacturer, vinyl windows do not always have the best insulation values and do not stand up well to excessive heat in warmer climates.
- Aluminum Windows – can be easily shaped for a variety of window sizes. They are very strong and durable. They are lightweight, inexpensive, and easily maintained. However, aluminum conducts heat easily, making them less energy efficient. They are also vulnerable to condensation, which can lead to mold issues. But a thermal insulation can help with the energy efficiency and the “sweating” problem.
- Fiberglass Windows – are strong and have great insulation values, but can be much more expensive. They are low maintenance and will not shrink or swell. They are strong enough to support nearly any size window and will not fade or corrode.
No matter which replacement window style or material you go with, talk to a professional about the requirements and location needs of your home. New windows can add beauty, energy efficiency, comfort, and security to any home and you want to make sure they’re installed right. Keep in mind you’ll have several decisions to make beyond styles and materials. Consider the price levels. Will you go with high-end, middle of the market, or inexpensive replacements? Some other options to consider: warranties, type of glass, reputation of the window manufacturers, and the quality and efficiency of the replacement windows.
ConstructionDeal.com is standing ready to help you find a window replacement contractor. Save time and money by receiving free bids from a network of quality window experts.