Published in the Spring 2016 Issue
Welcome Home Magazine
WELCOME HOME SPRING 2016
A room without windows is, well, a box. Windows invite natural light and fresh air into a room. Windows can be a room’s best decorative feature. How to choose the right ones?
The many options in choosing windows for your home can be overwhelming. Prices can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. When looking for new or replacement windows for your home, consider styles, materials, maintenance, installation, and energy efficiency.
“The first step is to make an appointment and stop in at your local window store,” says Steve Stanley at Pella Windows & Doors by Horne, 6150 Lovers Lane, Portage. “Set up an appointment. That way you get dedicated time with a professional who can answer all your questions. Visit the showroom so you can see and touch the windows in person and have a chance to operate them. It will take about an hour of your time, but it’s well worth it.”
The first consideration for most window shoppers will be style.
“Anything you can imagine, if we don’t carry it, we can make it, standard or custom,” says Jeff Everts at Hannapel Home Center, 8800 Shaver Road, Portage.
“Trends today tend toward contemporary, narrow with straight lines, lots of glass,” Stanley adds. “We can also add custom grills, another popular trend. It’s an inexpensive way to add character.”
Whatever style you choose—single- or double-hung, sliding, hopper or awning—it can affect the degree of insulation the window provides. Style can make a difference in air circulation and infiltration. You may want to install windows for optimum air flow in some areas of your home while adding air-tight windows in other areas.
Single-pane windows are operable (slide up and down or tilt in) only on the bottom sash with the top sash fixed in place. Double-hung windows are operable on both top and bottom sashes and tilt in for easy cleaning. Sliding windows move from side to side on a track. Casement windows hinge on the side and open with a crank. Awning windows also open with a crank but are hinged at the top, while hopper windows open from the top and swing inward.
“Style is also about the type of glass you choose,” adds Bob Kemp at Abode Building Center, 8308 Shaver Road, Portage. “It depends on how much you want to spend, but remember that you get what you pay for when it comes to quality.”
Different types of glass and the glazing on the glass can make a difference in the quality of light passing through the window, insulation, and resistance to condensation.
Another important factor in choosing windows is their energy efficiency.
Everts explains: “All windows have an NFRC rating on them. That stands for National Fenestration Rating Council. It rates how well the window keeps hot and cold air out, light and condensation. But there’s also the Energy Star rating by the EPA. Since January of this year, ratings have become even more stringent for the SHGC—that’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient—and it can be different depending on what region you live in. It rates how much sun is allowed to transfer into your home.”
“You also want to look for the U-value,” says Kemp. “People know about the R-value for insulation in a wall, but the U-value is that rating for windows, how little heat they allow to escape. You want to look for a rating of .30 or lower.”
“We suggest you weigh the upfront cost of higher efficiency glass,” Everts advises. “If you’re getting payback within two to five years, that’s good, but if it’s going to take 25 years to get your investment back, that’s paying too much.”
Most retailers offer installation on small, simple jobs, but hire sub-contractors for larger installations or new construction. Proper installation prevents water leakage, insures a good seal, and prevents condensation. Leave the measurements to the experts—it will save you headaches later. After that, it’s up to the homeowner to maintain the windows.
“Windows are a big investment,” Stanley says. “Specific windows need different types of care, but any window should be opened and shut now and then to keep it operable.”
Window experts agree that a little bit of maintenance can go a long way to keep your windows looking good and operating as they should. Aside from wiping them down regularly to remove any dirt and debris, and lubricating hardware, check caulking and weather-stripping to see if it needs to be replaced.
Now and then, however, a window needs to be replaced—or you may simply choose to update your “eye on the world.”
“Replacement windows are the biggest portion of the window market,” says Stanley. “There are two types: pocket replacement windows that fit into an existing frame, and full replacement.”
Replacement windows mean choosing standard windows or custom-made. Most window retailers offer both, including replacement windows that adhere to historical replications for older homes. While standard replacements can be cost-effective and simple to install, a full replacement gives the homeowner the opportunity to update the surrounding insulation and can be a better long-term solution.
Learn more at efficientwindows.org (look for the “window selection guide”) or check energy.gov to learn about energy ratings. Then visit the professionals at window retailers in your neighborhood.