Insider Tips for Purchasing Replacement Windows

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1 Insider Tips for Purchasing Replacement Windows From the experts at Legacy Remodeling WE SPEAK REMODELING

2 Table of Contents Introduction Page 3 Window Styles Page 4 Window Materials Page 6 Window Efficiency Page 9 Window Ratings Page 11 Choosing the Right Window for You Page 13 2

3 Introduction Dear Homeowner: Replacing the windows in your home is one of the smartest investments that you can make. According to Remodeling Magazine s 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. While updating your home with new replacement windows is exciting, it can also be a daunting process 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 knowledgeable about the windows in your home and how they work. After reading the following guide, you ll be ready to take the next step towards increasing your home s value and efficiency with new replacement windows. Lower energy bills are just around the corner Let s get started! Jeff Moeslein, Legacy Remodeling President 3

4 Window Styles Replacement windows come in a variety of styles, and the options can be overwhelming. When choosing the right style of windows for your home, it s important to consider the following factors: The age and style of your home Where your home is located How you want to use your windows Here 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 what bay vs. bow means! Double-hung The most common type of replacement window, double-hung windows 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 bottom that can be moved up and down. 4

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 window. Casement windows provide excellent ventilation because they can open wide to let fresh air into the home. Awning Awning windows are hinged on the top and open upward and outward using a crank handle on the bottom of the window. Often found in historic homes, awning windows provide excellent ventilation while still protecting 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 window does not open. Bay Bay windows are comprised of three windows joined together to project 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 windows are straight. Hopper Hopper windows open inward into the home at either a 30 or 45 degree angle. Hoppers are usually found in basements, where they can increase ventilation on the lower level of the home. 5

6 Window Materials While the style of your window is important, the material that the window frame is comprised of makes all the difference in the window s look, performance, and cost. Let s explore the most common types of replacement window materials: Aluminum Aluminum used to be one of the primary window materials used in residential homes due to its affordability, light weight, and relative strength. However, improvements in replacement window technology have led to a decline in aluminum windows over the years. The main reason for the decline is aluminum s lack of energy efficiency. Aluminum is highly conductive, causing the windows 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 known to rattle and can be difficult to operate, making them impractical for the homeowner. 6

7 Fiberglass Fiberglass replacement windows are relatively new, having been around for about twenty years and accounting for less than 1% of the replacement window market. Made with recycled glass that 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 and ability 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. Wood The traditional window material of choice, wood windows are still popular in many upscale and historic homes. When preserved properly, wood windows can add a beautiful, classic element to a home. Because of the nature of the material, though, wood windows do have some drawbacks. One of these is cost. Since wood is a more expensive material than vinyl, the average wood window will cost two to three times that of a vinyl window. Another drawback is maintenance. As wood windows 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 fiberglass windows. Finally, wood windows must be screwed or glued together, making them less energy 7

8 Vinyl The most popular type of window in the United States today, vinyl windows have come a long way since they were first introduced to the remodeling market in the 1960s. These initial windows were actually wood windows clad with vinyl and lacked strength and efficiency. Since then, however, the technology behind vinyl windows has made leaps and bounds, and the vinyl windows on the market today can be much more durable and energy efficient than those of the past. However, not all vinyl is created equal. When considering vinyl windows, it s important to remember that you get what you pay for. Understanding the different grades of vinyl on the market and 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 comparable 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 become 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 fusion welded together to avoid air leakage. Finally, virgin vinyl windows are also low conductors of energy, making them unaffected by temperatures on the exterior of your home. 8

9 Window Efficiency While the frame of your replacement window is important, it only constitutes a small part of the structure. In order to have a replacement window that is energy efficient, you must consider the number 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 comprise your window. Single pane windows are the most basic type of window, and were the primary choice for residential homes until technology evolved in the 1970s. Since then, double and triple pane windows have increased in popularity due to their increased energy efficiency. Double pane windows contain two panes of glass which or may not have a layer of insulation between them, and triple pane windows contain three panes of glass with space for two layers of insulation in between them, offering the ultimate option in energy efficiency. 9

10 Low-E This stands for low emissivity and refers to the thin metal coating on a pane of glass that helps control the transfer of heat. Purchasing a window with Low-E coating will increase the price, but also the energy savings. This is because the coating reflects heat energy either outward or inward from the home, depending upon where it is placed. To keep the heat out, Low-E would be applied to the outside pane of glass. To keep the heat inside, the Low-E would be applied 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 because 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 to be produced primarily in aluminum, surgical stainless steel is now popular and recommended because 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 between panes of glass and slow the heat transfer from one pane to the other. Both gasses are clear, nontoxic, and improve the thermal performance of your windows. Out of the two, krypton has a better thermal performance, but is also more expensive. Krypton also performs 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 or more. When purchasing windows, you will usually see double pane windows with an argon gas option, and triple pane windows with an option of either argon or krypton gasses. Now that you know the basics, we ve developed a list of replacement window types, ranging from the least energy efficient to the most 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 Window Ratings Energy Star When searching for replacement windows, the first question many consumers ask is if the windows are Energy Star qualified. Energy Star is a joint program from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection that was started in 1992 to promote the purchase of environmentally-friendly products. Recently, the Energy Star program has gained more consumer awareness 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 efficiency guidelines set by the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection. When purchasing Energy 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. Even though a window may be Energy Star-qualified, that doesn t mean it s the most energy efficient choice for your home. Educated consumers should look beyond the Energy Star label in order to gain a great understanding of a window s efficiency. A great resource for this is the NFRC. 11

12 NFRC The NFRC stands for the National Fenestration Rating Council. The NFRC is an independent, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to developing and administering a rating system for windows, doors, and skylights. The NFRC rating system focuses on five factors that affect a window s performance: U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient, visible transmittance, air leakage, and condensation resistance. Here we ve explained each factor: U-factor This measures how well a window prevents heat from escaping. The lower the number, the better insulated the window will be. Solar heat gain coefficient This measures how well a window blocks sunlight. The lower the number 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 the number, 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 interior. The higher the number, the less condensation your window will have. When searching for replacement windows, always examine the NFRC label. Comparing and contrasting the five factors on the label will help you determine if you are getting the best window for your money. Here we ve an example of an NFRC labels for a high efficiency window to help illustrate the point: 12

13 Choosing the Right Window Hopefully this guide has helped you understand the basics of replacement windows and given you a strong foundation to build upon in your search. Research is the first and most important step in your process. Moving forward, the best way to know which windows are best for you and your home is to contact an experienced window consultant like the experts at Legacy Remodeling. A consultant can come to your home, talk to you about your needs, look at your windows, and give you advice on which windows will be the best fit for your personal lifestyle and budget. 13

14 About Legacy Remodeling,Inc. Founded as Swing Line Windows in 1987, Legacy Remodeling has grown to become Western Pennsylvania s largest specialty remodeler. A multi-million dollar company, Legacy Remodeling installs more than 700 projects each year and has more than 23,000 customers in the Pittsburgh area. Legacy specializes in replacement windows, siding, roofing, doors, kitchens, and design build projects. The company was recognized for its outstanding ethics in 2009 with its receipt of the Western Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics and the company president, Jeff Moeslein, was honored as one of Pittsburgh s outstanding business leaders with a Pittsburgh Business Times Diamond Award in For more information about Legacy Remodeling, please visit our website at Legacy Remodeling, Inc. 14

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