Choose a window that will look good from the inside as well as the outside of your home.
Get the facts about factors that relate to energy efficiency, like U-values and Low-E insulating glass with argon windows and weather-stripping. U-values measure the insulating value of windows and other fenestration products. The lower the U-value, the better job a window does in keeping out heat and cold (which is the opposite of R-value — the higher the R-value, the better insulation in the walls and ceilings). A low U-value is important in all climates. In Southern climates where air conditioning is important, choose a window with a lower solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) to block more of the sun’s heat rays. Compare efficiency ratings before you purchase a window to help lower heating and cooling costs and make the most of your investment. An easy way to choose energy-efficient windows is to look for products that meet ENERGY STAR® requirements. Most high-performing windows today have glass coated with a Low-E microscopic film. The Low-E coating improves thermal performance and stops much of the sun’s heat rays and damaging UV rays while only slightly tinting the window.
Test the ease of operating a given window style before you buy it. Does it open smoothly? Is it easy to clean? If it’s a casement window, does the crank handle fold away to leave window fashions undisturbed? Keep in mind where the window will be placed — will it be easy to open, for instance, if it’s over the sink or another hard-to-reach spot? If the window will be a means of an escape exit in case of fire, make sure it opens easily and provides an adequately-sized opening to meet the needs of local building codes for emergency exits.
Keep in mind which direction your windows will face and how much sunlight or weather they will be exposed to. Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing — oversized windows featuring standard glass can allow too much hot sun into a home during summer months. Consider selecting windows with between-the-glass shades or blinds for enhanced privacy. Select windows featuring Low-E coatings to protect your furnishings from overexposure to the summer’s hot sun.
How important is exterior maintenance to you? For the ultimate in convenience, consider virtually maintenance-free aluminum cladding that will keep your windows looking beautiful for years to come. Are the windows designed for ease of cleaning from the home’s interior? Are grilles protected between panes of glass to make cleaning a breeze? Are hardware options easy to maintain and operate?
Don’t forget about the importance of color options in reflecting your style and adding to the appeal of your home. Some manufacturers offer limited exterior color choices, while others offer custom colors to match your decor. The sky’s the limit when it comes to color choices, from standard options to custom colors to reflect your unique style. and color doesn’t end with the window itself. Today’s window hardware coordinates with other hardware options in your home, such as cabinetry hardware, faucets and other fixtures.
What style of windows do you prefer? Classic or contemporary? With grilles or without? If you make a quality window purchase, you will likely live with your decision for many years. Select a style that reflects your preference.
Remember, you get what you pay for. The least expensive window probably isn’t your best buy. A good quality window should provide decades of beauty and performance.
Choose the right style and size for each window. Do you want the window to frame the view outside or simply provide ventilation? Will it function as an operable window or will it be a non-opening decorative accent for the outside of the home?
Single-hung windows offer all the features and benefits of double hung windows, with one difference: only the bottom sash opens by sliding upward. The ventilation opening can be adjusted from a small area to one-half of the window area.
Double-hung windows are often used on a second floor and both sashes tilt in for easy cleaning from the inside of the house. It also allows the bottom of the window to be raised letting the cooler air inside and the top sash to be lowered letting the warmer air out.
Often selected for decoration or in combination with other windows, fixed windows don’t open or vent. A circular or hexagonal window can be strategically placed to enhance a view or the exterior architecture of your home. Or, in a window wall, a fixed window can be flanked by venting units and topped with smaller fixed units, called transoms.
A popular style featured in a wide variety of home designs, casement windows feature a single sash that’s hinged on the left or right and opens using a crank handle. That’s why they’re sometimes referred to as “crank out” windows. Casement windows offer more ventilation than double-hung windows, typically have less air leakage than other window styles, and look best if they are at least slightly taller than they are wide.
Sliding windows, sometimes called gliders or sliders, function just as their name implies, moving horizontally side to side. Sliders are one of the most sleek, contemporary profiles in windows, and ideal for installing in those hard-to-reach areas, like over the kitchen sink. They also are commonly installed in multi-family buildings and apartment complexes. Sliders are typically available as single-sliding (only one sash moves) and are available in some models as double-sliding units (both sashes slide).
This casement-type window, hinged from the top, opening outward from the bottom, generally has less air leakage, because the sash closes by pressing against the frame. Because of this design, awning windows shed water away from the window opening. Awning windows are typically installed over fixed windows or doors (as transoms), or in garages above eye level to provide ventilation and privacy at the same time. They are a good choice for windows that are wider than they are tall.
A typical bay window consists of a large center window bordered on either side by double-hung or casement windows set at 30- or 45-degree angles. All the windows can be stationary (fixed), operating (venting), or any combination of these.
The bow window, similar to a bay window, consists of four or more equal-size windows, usually casements, that create a gradual arcing projection. Both bay and bow windows provide great open views, as well as give a room the aura of being larger than it really is.
Clear glass is the basic material available for window panes. In recent years, with the advent of ever-increasing energy costs, more homeowners are choosing glass with special glazing options, like Low-E coating, to enhance energy efficiency.
Low-E coating is a microscopically thin finish of metal oxide on the surface of clear glass that reflects a high percentage of heat. This coating allows the sun’s heat and light to pass through the glass into the home, while at the same time blocking heat from escaping the room, considerably reducing heat loss. The reverse happen during the summer time.
Glass treated with gray, green or bronze tints reduce heat gain by absorbing as much as 45 percent of the incoming solar energy, further increasing the energy efficiency of windows.
Glass that has been coated with a reflective film is useful for controlling solar heat gain during the summer. It also reduces the passage of light and solar transmittance year-round.
Glass that has an obscure texture is mostly used in bathrooms for privacy and is available in many different patterns. Some patterns are very obscured while others are slightly obscure, but elegant.
Glass layers and air spaces
Homeowners can choose from one, two and sometimes even three panes of glass for their new windows. Single-pane glass is the least energy efficient option, providing only a thin barrier to the outside elements with very little insulating value, as evidenced by its high U-value. Multiple layers of glass increase a window’s ability to resist heat flow (decreasing the U-value) and greatly increasing its energy efficiency. An even more energy efficient window results when the double or triple-paned glass is a Low-E insulating glass with argon.
One of the most popular materials for windows is vinyl which are durable, generally lower in cost, and energy efficient. One big advantage is the color is all the way through the vinyl and wont peel off. Our EnergyCore vinyl window is one the most efficient windows made to date and is available in many different shapes.
While less expensive, aluminum windows are less energy efficient, but very durable, than windows made of other materials. Aluminum windows may experience conductive heat loss and condensation around the frame, more often than vinyl or wood windows. We recommend using our thermally broken windows made by Dan Young Company, which are powder coated, if you use aluminum windows.
The first material in windows and doors, wood windows are still a wise choice for many homeowners trying to upgrade a home’s original windows with more energy efficient models. Wood windows are less prone to condensation. Many wood windows feature aluminum or vinyl cladding on the exterior, which reduces external maintenance.