Want New Home Windows? Consider This First
Every homeowner has a reason to consider installing new windows. New windows make your home quieter, more attractive, and less drafty. Modern windows boost your home’s curb appeal (without the need for paint) and protect the furnishings inside your home, all with lower maintenance than old windows with combination screens and storm windows.
Built for maximum energy efficiency, new home windows reduce your carbon footprint, save you money on your electric bill, and boost your home’s resale value—giving homeowners just like you a large return on your investment. From performance and warranty to safety and quality—here’s what to consider before you upgrade your home windows.
Installation method: new construction vs. retro-fit.
New construction windows.
Also known as full frame windows, new construction windows are the go-to choice for contractors building new homes and new home additions. The more labor intensive process—which demands first removing the house trim, interior window casing, and frame—costs more to install. However, with the studs of the home exposed, you get the advantage of installing the window directly onto the frame.
New construction windows are also a good option for a home remodeling project. Contractors remove the exterior materials around the window, expose the studs, and install the window. Full frame windows custom-designed to fit your home’s exact specifications also leave plenty of room for creativity in window size and shape.
Also known as replacement windows, retro-fit windows enable contractors to swap out windows without disturbing the trim, siding, and window frames. Measured to fit inside the old window, the new window replaces the actual window itself. A good idea for a quick, low-budget home improvement project, the process saves time and labor costs, giving homeowners all the same benefits of new home windows.
Double-pane windows may seem the same when you compare glass and gas fill. However, energy efficient windows vary by their degrees of performance. Some windows block and keep out more solar heat while others let in more natural sunlight. Some windows better prevent air from passing through small joints and cracks while others better resist condensation, water buildup, and fogging.
Manufacturers build every window size and configuration with a separate, unique Energy Star rating. A contractor can give you a range of windows to sample based on degree of performance. Selecting the right windows for your home can make a huge difference to your energy bills. High-quality windows installed by a qualified professional can cut your heating and cooling costs by 25 to 50 percent or more.
Landscaping and architecture.
Beyond Energy Star rating, your home’s energy efficiency and utility bills also depend on how light and heat enter your home. For example, in a home with large windows on the south side, with no eaves, overhangs, or trees blocking the sun, energy efficient windows can significantly reduce cooling costs in the summer.
In a home with dining room windows on the west side, where the setting sun shines in at the end of the day, energy efficient windows can make family dinners more comfortable. The same windows can also help block UV rays and prevent carpets, floors, and pictures from fading. However, expect less of an impact if a porch, deck, patio, or overhang already protects your home from the sun.
Most new home windows come with a lifetime warranty. However, the term “lifetime” means something different from one manufacturer to another.
For example, one manufacturer might define a lifetime as ten years while another considers it twenty-five or even fifty years. Some lifetime warranties cover replacement parts but not the labor while others cover accidental glass or screen breakage.
The bottom line: a warranty is only as good as the company behind it. Hiring a contractor you can trust protects your investment and gives you peace of mind.
Quality and performance.
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)—the only independent rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors, skylights, and attachment products—distinguishes the difference between high and low-quality windows. However, homeowners can gauge overall quality by a number of factors.
High-quality windows feature metal lock components made from highly durable stainless steel that fit together well without rusting. The aesthetic enhancement of matching colors on all components often pairs with the performance enhancement of heat-welded joints, which function better than windows with sashes and frames mechanically fastened and held together by screws, brackets, and caulk.
Single-hung, floor-to-ceiling windows on the top floor of a two-story home create a safety hazard for young children. The safer, double-hung window featuring a top sash that operates up and down lets air in without the danger. Windows close to the floor made without tempered glass and older windows not up to code can also put your family at risk. Windows unable to lock or function properly also make your home vulnerable to break-ins.
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