How to Buy New Windows?

When narrowing your choices, weigh features, price, and attributes that matter to you.

In addition to reducing your energy bill, new windows can make your home more comfortable, quiet, and attractive. Replacement home windows have become more energy efficient in recent years.

Consider Style and R-Value

Some styles of windows are more energy-efficient than others.  The most energy efficient ones are casement windows. These open from a hinge, either at the top or one side of the window, by means of a crank that you turn.  Because the sash is designed to fit tightly against the weather seal when closed, they let very little air through.  In fact, when the wind blows against the glass of a casement-type window, it pushes it against the sash, which simply makes it seal even more tightly.  These usually fit in best with a contemporary design.  The second type is the double hung window.  This is the more traditional style with which you may be familiar.  They consist of a lower pane and an upper pane.  When you wish to open it, you slide the lower pane upward.  The weather seal that is used on double hung windows becomes damaged over time, which means it lets in more air than an undamaged seal.  However, these windows can usually be tilted inward for cleaning, which makes them more convenient in this aspect.  The third type of is a sliding window.  This is basically a double hung window, but it slides from left to right, instead of up and down.  It is subject to the same sort of abuse as a double hung window, which makes it just as inefficient.

R-value is the biggest factor in the energy efficiency.   R-value is the measure of how much heat loss your windows are capable of preventing.  Therefore, you want the highest R-value possible.  The lowest R-value that is acceptable if you are trying to build an efficient home is R-3.  Of course, the higher the rating, the more efficient the window.  The corollary to that is the higher the R-value, the more expensive it will be.  A good rule of thumb is to choose a window with the highest R-value that you can reasonably afford, in relation to the energy savings that you expect to receive.  This is especially true if you live in a cold climate.  Keep in mind that R-value is rated according to the window’s efficiency in the center of the glass.  The edges will be less energy-efficient than the R-value reflects.


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