Your home’s windows are something you don’t really think about until they become a nuisance or an eyesore. They’re typically taken for granted, despite the fact that they provide so much comfort and value to a home. However, once they lose their ability to keep energy in and the weather out, the conversation of replacing them with more efficient, attractive models arises pretty quickly.
Are you unsure of whether or not now is the right time to replace your windows? Or maybe you don’t know which replacement windows to install? Let this guide walk you through some of the steps and explain a handful of different aspects of the process.
Signs Your Windows Need Replacing
The first question people often pose is, “How do I know when my windows need to be replaced?” It’s a simple question, but the answer isn’t straightforward. Homeowners may choose to replace their home’s windows for any of the following reasons.
- Poor physical condition. The first thing to consider is the physical condition of the windows. If you aren’t conscious of this, windows in poor condition can lead to humidity issues, water leaks, and even pest infestations.
- Inefficient windows. It may be difficult to pinpoint windows as the culprit for your high energy bills, but it’s certainly possible. For example, replacing single-pane windows with storm windows can reduce heat loss by 25-30 percent during the winter months. While you can usually run your hand by a window for a quick test of efficiency, you may want to order an energy audit to get a detailed breakdown on whether your windows are inefficient and need replaced.
- Potential safety issues. Something people often forget to think about is the safety of windows. Windows that can no longer open and shut are considered dangerous. They are inoperable during a fire emergency and may pose a threat to your ability to escape.
- Visually unappealing. The most obvious reason is associated with aesthetics. Do the windows look old, cracked, rotted, or broken beyond repair? Sometimes replacing visually unappealing windows with newer alternatives can breathe new life into the look of a dated home.
Energy Factors to Consider
According to the annual Cost vs. Value Report, window replacement projects are typically great from an investment point of view. Wood window replacements may cost an average of $11,341, but homeowner’s are able to recoup 78.8 percent of the cost in the form of resale value. Vinyl windows for the entire home carry an average cost of $11,198, but generally have a ROI of 72.9 percent.
When you think about the cost through the lens of increased resale value, the decision to invest in window replacement installation becomes less difficult. Here are a few factors to consider when “shopping” for the right windows for your home.
- U-factor. Energy efficiency should be high on your list when selecting replacement windows, and one of the best ways to judge this aspect is by looking at the U-factor. The U-factor – or U-value – measures the rate at which heat is lost. The lower the value, the greater the insulating value. In northern climates,
experts recommend a U-factor of .35 or less. For north and south central climates, .40 or less is generally recommended. And for southern climates, .75 or less is ideal.
- Solar heat gain coefficient. You should also consider a window’s solar heat coefficient, which measures the amount of heat that enters a home through the glass windowpanes. Once again, the lower the number, the better.
Thinking About the Materials
While the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient are extremely important, most people tend to focus on the more tangible aspects of window replacements. In general, there are two major aspects of a window to think about: the frame and the glass.
- The Frame
A window’s frame is extremely important – and there are plenty of options to choose from. Each comes with a number of negatives and positives and may directly impact heat and cold transfer. The most common frame material options include:
- Wood. It’s commonly known that wood windows offer the best insulation against heat and cold transfer; however, they also come with a much higher need for ongoing maintenance. Wood frames have a tendency to rot if not continually monitored and protected. While a high quality wood frame can last for decades, a low quality option will have trouble lasting even a handful of years.
- Vinyl. One of the most common frame options is vinyl. While these frames are cheaper than wood, they aren’t necessarily lower quality. A well-built vinyl frame can be extremely energy efficient, while remaining kind to your wallet.
- Aluminum. In rainy, humid, or coastal climates, aluminum windows are a good selection. They may not be very efficient when it comes to heat and cold transfer, but they’re strong and practical.
Other materials include fiberglass, composite, and wood-clad, but wood, vinyl, and aluminum are by far the three most common choices for frame materials.
- The Glass
The second factor to consider is the glass itself. This is where the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient come into play. While you’ll be hard pressed to find a single pane window these days, you should avoid these inefficient windows at all costs. In fact, you may even want to consider going with something stronger than your typical double-pane window.
Many homeowners are opting for double-pane windows with vacuum-sealed argon fills. This gas is filled into the panes and typically adds a 15 or 20 percent premium to the overall cost. However, these windows are around 30 percent more efficient than conventional double-pane windows. If you plan on staying in your home for five years or more, you can usually recoup your investment.
Contact Lakeside Exteriors Today
At Lakeside Exteriors, we specialize in replacement window installation. And because we know that replacing your home’s windows is a major undertaking, we make sure to take the time to educate you on the process, total cost, possible savings, and everything that goes into the process prior to installation.
Furthermore, when you choose Lakeside Exteriors, you get access to high quality Marvin Replacement Windows, installed by our certified and factory-trained team of craftsmen.
For additional information or a free consultation, please contact us today!