Windows provide our homes with light and ventilation, and visually transform a room; but they can have a negative affect on a home’s energy efficiency. Old windows show their age and lose efficiency after years of contraction during our cold and dry winters, and expansion during hot and humid summers. Age is only one factor to consider. Your windows might not be that old, but their material composition and quality of installation will also affect their efficiency, and should be evaluated when considering window replacement. Ask yourself – if it is time? Understand your window construction and installation options.
Single Pane vs Multi-Pane Windows
Energy efficient windows can update the look of your home (inside and out) as well as lower your energy bills. Replacing single pane windows with new, energy-efficient multi-pane windows is a smart move. According to a 2018 Modernize Home Empowerment article, homeowners who install multi-pane windows save an average of 12% on their utility costs and may even reduce their lighting costs. Studies show that replacing single pane windows with double pane windows can save an average of 21% – 31% off heating and cooling costs, making them a wise long-term investment.
Frame Material Matters
When you’re buying new or replacement windows, window frame material is one of the most important factors to consider. Multi-pane energy efficient glass will help reduce your heating and cooling costs, but the glass is only half of the window. Don’t overlook the frame material. Each frame material has its advantages and disadvantages. Here is a break-down by frame material, to help you decide which is the best for your home:
Aluminum windows are known for being rugged and long-lasting. They are more modern and work well with a sleek and modern styles. Aluminum also lets in plenty of sunlight and is fairly low-maintenance.
Aluminum is not very energy efficient when compared to other options. It is also quite expensive. You’ll spend more for aluminum windows than you would for vinyl or fiberglass, although they are a bit cheaper than wooden windows.
Vinyl windows are affordable, fairly easy to maintain and known for being good insulators. Vinyl is also a versatile material and can be used to make most window styles.
Vinyl is not the most durable option. It is not as strong as fiberglass, wood or aluminum, even when made with the best design practices. It also contracts and expands with temperature changes, affecting the window’s air leakage. Generally, most inexpensive vinyl windows need to be replaced after 10 years.
Wood frames provide a classic look, and when properly maintained, are very durable. Wood frames have been used on homes for hundreds of years, and construction methods have adapted to modern standards. Quality wood frame windows can last up to 50 years.
Compared to vinyl or fiberglass, wood frame windows are relatively expensive, and require regular maintenance. They are also affected by moisture changes and susceptible to rot.
Fiberglass frames provide a durable option, requiring relatively little maintenance. They resist weather and temperature changes better than any other material. Fiberglass is an excellent insulator, creating a window frame that minimizes heat transfer and delivers energy efficiency.
Fiberglass frames are more expensive than vinyl windows for a fairly similar look.
Before selecting new or replacement windows for your home, style is also an important consideration. Lowering your energy bills is great for your pocketbook, and a new window style is great for a room transformation. Consider a bay or bow window to open-up a room. Casement and awning windows are great for increasing ventilation. And when it comes to specialty shapes – the options are limitless.
Proper installation is required to ensure new energy efficient windows deliver their savings potential. All windows should be installed according to manufacturer’s recommendations and be properly air sealed. Stopping by a window showroom is worth your time. You can look at the products in- person to evaluate the materials, workmanship, and seek the advice of a professional to help you decide on material and installation options. To find a quality installer, pay attention to actual customer ratings/review boards. Websites like Houzz.com, as well as looking at Google reviews are a good place to start. Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential contractors, take the time to talk with potential installers before signing a contract.
If you are interested in replacing your windows – we’d love to help you! Contact Erdmann Exterior Designs today for a free consultation.