Insider tips for purchasing replacement windows


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Replacing the windows in your home is one of the smartest investments that you can make.According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2010-2011 Cost Vs. Value Report, homeowners can expect to recoup an average of 72% of their investment in new replacement windows. This is in addition to the monthly savings from lower energy bills and the added benefit of beautifying your home.

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Insider tips for purchasing replacement windows

  1. 1. Insider Tips forPurchasing Replacement Windows From the experts at Legacy RemodelingWE SPEAK REMODELING
  2. 2. Table of ContentsIntroduction Page 3Window Styles Page 4Window Materials Page 6Window Efficiency Page 9Window Ratings Page 11Choosing the Right Window Page 13for You 2
  3. 3. IntroductionDear Homeowner:Replacing the windows in your home is one of the smartest investments that you can make.According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2010-2011 Cost Vs. Value Report, homeowners can expectto recoup an average of 72% of their investment in new replacement windows. This is in additionto the monthly savings from lower energy bills and the added benefit of beautifying your home.While updating your home with new replacement windows is exciting, it can also be a dauntingprocess due to the amount of choices available. That’s why we’ve compiled this easy-to-follow“how-to” guide for buying windows.By downloading this guide, you are taking the first step towards becoming more knowledgeableabout the windows in your home and how they work. After reading the following guide, you’ll beready to take the next step towards increasing your home’s value and efficiency with newreplacement windows. Lower energy bills are just around the corner…Let’s get started!Jeff Moeslein,Legacy Remodeling President 3
  4. 4. Window StylesReplacement windows come in a variety of styles, and the options can be overwhelming. Whenchoosing the right style of windows for your home, it’s important to consider the following fac-tors: The age and style of your home Where your home is located How you want to use your windowsHere we’ve outlined the most popular window styles and explained some of their benefits.We’ve also included an image to illustrate what each one looks like, so no more wondering whatbay vs. bow means! Double-hung – The most common type of replacement window, double-hung win- dows have an upper and a lower sash that can both be moved up and down. Single-hung windows are the same style of window, but with only one sash on the bot- tom that can be moved up and down. 4
  5. 5. Slider – A slider window is often referred to as a double hung window on its side. Slider windows feature two sashes on either end and open by sliding the sash from side-to-side.Casement –Popular in Europe and experiencing a resurgence in the United States,casement windows open from the side, usually with a crank at the bottom of the win-dow. Casement windows provide excellent ventilation because they can open wide tolet fresh air into the home. Awning – Awning windows are hinged on the top and open upward and out- ward using a crank handle on the bottom of the window. Often found in his- toric homes, awning windows provide excellent ventilation while still protect- ing the inside of the home from rain and other outdoor elements. Picture – A large window with little or no glazing bars, picture windows are designed to frame an outside view and bring light into a living space. This win- dow does not open. Bay – Bay windows are comprised of three windows joined together to pro- ject outward and form a bay. Popular in Victorian-era homes, bay windows are a great way to increase sunlight and make a living space appear larger because of the deep sill. Bow – Similar to a bay window, bow windows project outward from the home and contain a deep sill. However, bow windows are curved, while bay win- dows are straight. Hopper –Hopper windows open inward into the home at either a 30 or 45 de- gree angle. Hoppers are usually found in basements, where they can increase ventilation on the lower level of the home. 5
  6. 6. Window MaterialsWhile the style of your window is important, the material that the window frame is comprised ofmakes all the difference in the window’s look, performance, and cost. Let’s explore the mostcommon types of replacement window materials:AluminumAluminum used to be one of the primary window materials used in residentialhomes due to its affordability, light weight, and relative strength. However,improvements in replacement window technology have led to a decline in alu-minum windows over the years. The main reason for the decline is aluminum’slack of energy efficiency. Aluminum is highly conductive, causing the win-dows to transfer the heat or cold from the exterior of the home into the interior,and vice versa. This trait also causes the windows to expand and contract,leading to breakage in the window seals. Aluminum windows also are knownto rattle and can be difficult to operate, making them impractical for the home-owner. 6
  7. 7. FiberglassFiberglass replacement windows are relatively new, having been around for about twenty yearsand accounting for less than 1% of the replacement window market. Made with recycled glassthat is formed into pultrusions, fiberglass has become the window of choice for many “green”projects because of its low carbon footprint. It has also attracted fans because of its strength andability to be painted if the homeowner chooses. Fiberglass windows do have some drawbacks, though, that have made them a relatively small player in the replacement window market. One of these is cost. The typical fiberglass window will cost about the same as a wood window, which can be triple the price of vinyl. Also, fiberglass windows are not fusion welded, which can lead to air leakage in the corners of the window.WoodThe traditional window material of choice, wood windows are still popular in many upscale andhistoric homes. When preserved properly, wood windows can add a beautiful, classic element toa home.Because of the nature of the material, though, wood windows do have some drawbacks. One ofthese is cost. Since wood is a more expensive material than vinyl, the average wood window willcost two to three times that of a vinyl window. Another drawback is maintenance. As wood win-dows are exposed to outside elements, such as rain, the wood can warp and rot. Because of this,wood windows will generally not come with a lifetime guarantee like most vinyl or fiberglasswindows. Finally, wood windows must be screwed or glued together, making them less energy 7
  8. 8. VinylThe most popular type of window in the UnitedStates today, vinyl windows have come a longway since they were first introduced to the re-modeling market in the 1960s. These initial win-dows were actually wood windows clad with vi-nyl and lacked strength and efficiency. Sincethen, however, the technology behind vinyl win-dows has made leaps and bounds, and the vinylwindows on the market today can be much moredurable and energy efficient than those of thepast.However, not all vinyl is created equal. Whenconsidering vinyl windows, it’s important to re-member that you get what you pay for. Understanding the different grades of vinyl on the marketand the difference in how they perform will help you make the right purchase. To help you out,we’ve broken down the three different grades of vinyl available: Recycled vinyl is the lowest grade of vinyl available on the market. This material is compa- rable to the $2 plastic chairs you can purchase at your local retailer. Just like the inexpensive chairs, these windows may initially look okay, but they will be- come brittle, crack, warp, and be difficult to clean over time. They are also unable to be fusion welded, which lowers their energy efficiency. Virgin vinyl windows are composed of at least 51% virgin vinyl, so they are a step above recycled vinyl. However, since a large portion of them is still made of recycled vinyl, usually 49%, they still have many of the same issues as recycled vinyl windows, making them a risky choice for homeowners. 100% virgin vinyl windows are the highest grade of vinyl windows available on the market. Made purely of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), 100% virgin vinyl windows are extremely low maintenance, making them easy to clean and requiring absolutely no painting as they age and are exposed to outside elements. They are extremely energy efficient and can be fu- sion welded together to avoid air leakage. Finally, virgin vi- nyl windows are also low conductors of energy, making them unaffected by temperatures on the exterior of your home. 8
  9. 9. Window EfficiencyWhile the frame of your replacement window is important, it only constitutes a small part of thestructure. In order to have a replacement window that is energy efficient, you must consider thenumber of glass panes, the emissivity, the spacer, and the type of gas between the panes.Here we’ve broken down the most important elements of an energy efficient window:Single, Double, and Triple Pane – The number of panes refers to the layers of glass that com-prise your window. Single pane windows are the most basic type of window, and were the pri-mary choice for residential homes until technology evolved in the 1970s. Since then, double andtriple pane windows have increased in popularity due to their increased energy efficiency. Dou-ble pane windows contain two panes of glass which or may not have a layer of insulation be-tween them, and triple pane windows contain three panes of glass with space for two layers ofinsulation in between them, offering the ultimate option in energy efficiency. 9
  10. 10. Low-E – This stands for low emissivity and refers to the thin metal coating on a pane of glass thathelps control the transfer of heat. Purchasing a window with Low-E coating will increase theprice, but also the energy savings. This is because the coating reflects heat energy either out-ward or inward from the home, depending upon where it is placed. To keep the heat out, Low-Ewould be applied to the outside pane of glass. To keep the heat inside, the Low-E would be ap-plied to the inside pane of glass. There are two types of Low-E, hard coat and soft coat. Hard coat Low-E glass is produced by pouring a thin coat of tin onto the surface of the glass while it is still molten. Soft coat, on the other hand, is created by diffusing molecules of silver, tin, or zinc onto the glass using a special vacuum device. Out of the two types, soft coat Low-E usually has better insulating qualities be- cause it is better able to reflect heat back to the source. Window Spacer – A window spacer refers to the insert between glass panes that helps prevent the build-up of moisture. While spacers used tobe produced primarily in aluminum, surgical stainless steel is now popular and recommendedbecause it has lower conductivity and won’t transfer heat from one window pane to the next.Argon and Krypton Gas – Both argon and krypton gases are used to fill the space betweenpanes of glass and slow the heat transfer from one pane to the other. Both gasses are clear, non-toxic, and improve the thermal performance of your windows. Out of the two, krypton has a bet-ter thermal performance, but is also more expensive. Krypton alsoperforms better in small spaces with a gap of a quarter inch or less,while argon performs best in spaces with a gap of a half an inch ormore. When purchasing windows, you will usually see double panewindows with an argon gas option, and triple pane windows with anoption of either argon or krypton gasses.Now that you know the basics, we’ve developed a list of replace-ment window types, ranging from the least energy efficient to themost energy efficient: Single Pane Double Pane Insulated Double Pane with Low E Double Pane with Low E and Argon Gas Triple Pane Triple Pane with Low E Triple Pane with Low E and Argon Triple Pane with Low E and Krypton 10
  11. 11. Window RatingsEnergy StarWhen searching for replacement windows, the first question many consumers ask is if the win-dows are Energy Star qualified. Energy Star is a joint program from the U.S. Departments of En-ergy and Environmental Protection that was started in 1992 to promote the purchase of environ-mentally-friendly products. Recently, the Energy Star program has gained more consumerawareness due to federal tax credits that are available for the purchase of qualifying products.Replacement windows that are labeled as “Energy Star Qualified” have met energy efficiencyguidelines set by the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection. When purchasingEnergy Star qualified products, you will usually see a blue label like the one below.When window shopping, though, it’s important to look beyond the Energy Star label. Eventhough a window may be Energy Star-qualified, that doesn’t mean it’s the most energy efficientchoice for your home. Educated consumers should look beyond the Energy Star label in order togain a great understanding of a window’s efficiency. A great resource for this is the NFRC. 11
  12. 12. NFRCThe NFRC stands for the National Fenestration Rating Council. The NFRC is an independent, non-profit organization that is dedicated to developing and administering a rating system for win-dows, doors, and skylights.The NFRC rating system focuses on five factors that affect a window’s performance: U-factor, so-lar heat gain coefficient, visible transmittance, air leakage, and condensation resistance. Herewe’ve explained each factor: U-factor – This measures how well a window prevents heat from escaping. The lower thenumber, the better insulated the window will be. Solar heat gain coefficient – This measures how well a window blocks sunlight. The lower thenumber on the label, the less heat it will allow into your home. Visible transmittance – This measures how much light goes through a window. The higher thenumber, the more sunlight that will go into your home. Air leakage – This measures how much air escapes through a window. The lower the number,the more efficient a window will be.Condensation resistance – This measures the ability of a window to resist condensation on its in-terior. The higher the number, the less condensation your window will have.When searching for replacement windows, always examine the NFRC label. Comparing andcontrasting the five factors on the label will help you determine if you are getting the best win-dow for your money. Here we’ve an example of an NFRC labels for a high efficiency window tohelp illustrate the point: 12
  13. 13. Choosing the Right WindowHopefully this guide has helped you understand the basics of replacement windows and givenyou a strong foundation to build upon in your search. Research is the first and most importantstep in your process.Moving forward, the best way to know which windows are best for you and your home is to con-tact an experienced window consultant like the experts at Legacy Remodeling. A consultant cancome to your home, talk to you about your needs, look at your windows, and give you advice onwhich windows will be the best fit for your personal lifestyle and budget. 13
  14. 14. About Legacy Remodeling,Inc.Founded as Swing Line Windows in 1987, Legacy Remodeling has grown to become WesternPennsylvania’s largest specialty remodeler. A multi-million dollar company, Legacy Remodelinginstalls more than 700 projects each year and has more than 23,000 customers in the Pittsburgharea. Legacy specializes in replacement windows, siding, roofing, doors, kitchens, and designbuild projects. The company was recognized for its outstanding ethics in 2009 with its receipt ofthe Western Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics and thecompany president, Jeff Moeslein, was honored as one of Pittsburgh’s outstanding business lead-ers with a Pittsburgh Business Times Diamond Award in 2011.For more information about Legacy Remodeling, please visit our website ©2011 Legacy Remodeling, Inc. 14