Many homeowners here in Edgewood are looking to replace their worn-out windows with new windows that operate and perform better, are more durable, require considerably less maintenance and are more energy efficient than the wood, steel or aluminum windows that were used when their homes were built.
Most people look at new windows as an expense, they’re not. New windows are an investment in your home. An investment which, if made wisely, not only increases the value of your Edgewood home, but at the same time, cuts your energy bills, increases your comfort and reduces maintenance cost. However, like any investment decision, you need to determine what gives you the greatest value, not necessarily the lowest price.
You need to educate yourself so you really understand what you are getting for your money. This is why it is important for a homeowner to work with someone they trust who walks them through the various options so they can make an educated buying decision.In most cases, style is already determined by the architecture of the house and the type of windows that are presently there. However, it is possible to change window styles, change opening sizes, add bays and bows, or do a variety of other things that will dramatically change the appearance of your home inside and out.
Since it represents the largest area of the window, glass obviously has the biggest impact on energy loss. Glass technology has made tremendous strides over the last few years. Things like low conductivity spacers, low emissivity, or Low-E, coatings and gas filling have drastically cut the amount of energy that flows through the glass.Low-E is an almost invisible metallic coating that works like a one-way mirror, reflecting heat back into your home during the winter and reflecting it out during the summer.
There are different types of Low-E coatings with different performance levels. Better performing coatings, like Titanium, cost a little more, but are well worth the money. Don’t settle for products made with regular clear glass that is not coated.Warranties are also very important. Be sure you understand them fully. Just because it says Lifetime don’t assume every component of the window and installation is covered forever. And remember, the warranty is only as good as the people who back it.
Replacement Windows – A Buyers Guide For Edgewood Homeowners
A replacement window is a window that is installed in an existing window opening as replacement of the existing window. Old weather beaten windows deteriorate and become loose and drafty. They need replacement not only to improve the appearance of the house but also to take advantage of modern energy efficient windows that bring about an overall improvement of the ambiance of the house at low recurring cost of heating and cooling.
Replacement windows are designed for a variety of installation situations and techniques.
In a full-frame installation, trim around the old window (interior and/or exterior) is removed and the old window frame is removed completely. The new replacement window is secured to the studs surrounding the window opening, and the trim is replaced.
Insert installations are sometimes used when replacing older wood windows with frames that are in good condition. In this case, the new replacement window is installed within the existing frame. This installation technique is simpler than a full-frame installation, but decreases the size of the window opening due to the nesting of the frames.
Another technique involves replacing the window sashes only, and re-using the existing frame.
New-construction windows of recent vintage typically have a "nailing fin" along the outer frame. This fin provides a surface so that the window can be nailed in from the outside of the home before the application of flashing, siding or brick and stone veneers. Most replacement windows are manufactured without this fin so that they can be installed with minimal disruption to the existing trim, siding, sheetrock or exterior veneer.
Replacement windows are available in several materials including wood, fiberglass, aluminum-clad wood, vinyl-clad wood, vinyl, glass blocks and other composite materials. The most common materials for new windows are PVC-u and wood.
Replacement windows can increase resale value and energy efficiency. Several types of typical windows are listed and discussed here.
Wood windows were used from the early 1900s to the present but became less of a mainstay of the industry in the 1960s. They are prevalent in the Northern United States. Steel and aluminum casements and Steel Vertical Operators were used from the 1950s through the 1960s. Aluminum windows were used in the 1960s through the present. Vinyl windows were established in the 1970s through the present. The last decade has also seen the admission of composite materials such as fiberglass and vinyl-wood-polymer type products.
Wood "drop-in" replacement windows and vinyl windows are designed to sit in place of the existing sashes and are constructed at 3 1/4" thickness in most cases. These type windows sit in the opening where the top and bottom sash originally moved in their respective wooden "tracks" The stop between the two sashes must also be removed in this type of refurbishment or retrofit installation. It requires minimal movement of existing trims both inside and out.
The alternative is to replace the entire wood window including jambs. This requires the reworking of interior and exterior wood trim to accommodate the size of the modern wood window. Modern wood windows are available in with 4 9/16" jambs as a standard feature but can be equipped with "jamb extensions" to extend to 5 1/4" or 6 9/16". This is to accommodate the wall thickness as needed.
Modern windows have two or more layers of glass. This is known as double glazing or triple glazing. An argon gas has is usually held between these additional layers of glass which helps to make the windows more energy efficient and keep our outside noises. Triple glazed windows are more energy efficient than double glazed windows, but with their additional weight, they are not always available to work with every size of window frame. In the United States, the Energy Code sets certain standards for performance of products installed in homes. These codes now require Low-E Glass in all residential homes.
Low-E is a film that is several layers of metal poured microscopically thin over the surface of newly poured glass. This heat reflective film is transparent but can be darker or lighter depending on the type and manufacturer. This data is rated in Visible Light Transmission. Darker glass with heavier Low–E will have less VT. The NFRC rates most energy star rated window manufacturers.
Two main types of Low-Emissivity Glass are pyrolytic, or "hard coat", and spectrally selective, or "soft coat".
Pyrolitic glass is made mostly of tin oxides and is applied to "hot" float plate glass as it is cooling. Pyrolytic Low-e glass is extremely durable and gives glazing a lower u-value, or heat loss rating, than clear glass, making it ideal for northern Energy Star climate zones.
Spectrally selective glass is made of various metal oxides, mostly silver, and is applied to cool glass in an electro-magnetic vacuum sputter chamber. Spectrally selective low emissivity glass is very sensitive to oxygen and therefore has to be sealed in an insulated glass unit before it begins to oxidize. It scratches easily and is sensitive to pH, making it difficult to manufacture. It produces low u-values, both winter and night, and low summer daytime solar heat gain ratings, making it a preferred coating in mixed climate zones.
Introduced in the mid 2000's, newer "triple silver" low-e, also called High Performance low-e, are testing for even lower SHGC ratings, making the windows suitable for even the hottest southern climate (mostly cooling) zones. Also notable are new interior surface low-e coatings that provide very low u-values that are comparable to triple pane windows, often in the low 20's. Combining these two low-emissivity coatings can make a dual pane window exceed every Energy Star climate zone in the US.
Other options include triple-glazing (a third pane of glass), higher quality spacers between the panes, which reduce the failure rate and conduction that allows seal failure. This creates "fogging" or condensation to form between the panes. Modern windows also have optional gases between the panes that have higher insulative qualities than air, such as argon or krypton gases.
"Double-hung" windows are the most common traditional window. They have an upper sash and a lower sash, both of which slide up and down in the window opening. "Single-hung" windows operate the same as "double-hung" windows, but their upper sash is fixed in place. By virtue of being stationary and permanently secured, single-hungs are often more energy efficient that double-hung windows depending on the type and style.
Most vertical operators (single- and double-hungs) now feature "tilt-in" sashes for cleaning of the exterior surfaces. The industry moved towards this approach for service and replacement reasons as well as accessibility to the exterior from the inside of the home.
Casement windows are hinged on one side and are typically operated using an interior hand crank. Awning and Basement windows hinge on top and bottom respectively.
Sliding windows, or "sliders", are sometimes used in openings that are wider than they are tall.
Non-operable or "fixed" windows also called "picture windows" are common in larger openings.
Retrofit replacement windows are custom manufactured to fit finished openings in sizes down to 1/8" or 1/4" in most cases. Builders-grade windows are constructed in specific sizes depending on the manufacturer. Wood windows also have "Standard Sizes" that determine the installation and application. Custom-sized wood windows are a rarity but are the most expensive of modern window products.
In 2009, the United States Federal Government passed a stimulus package allowing a 30% tax credit, with a $1500 cap, on purchases up to $5000 for qualifying energy saving products purchased in 2009 and 2010. This includes insulation, radiant barrier, air conditioning upgrades and most energy-efficient replacement windows and doors.
 There are also additional programs through state governments and utility companies that offer low-interest loans and grants to replace your windows with energy-efficient ones.
Due to the heavier weight and increased thickness of insulated glass, and the weakness of vinyl extrusions, window frames in replacement windows may be thicker in visual profile, thereby reducing glass area even in full-frame and sash replacement-only installations. This is not universally the case. Replacement window operation may not be identical to the windows that are replaced. For example, a typical existing older double hung window sash is capable of being opened nearly to the top of the window. Newer replacement window sashes typically can only be opened to approximately 4" from the top of the window - providing less open window area. On smaller bedroom windows that are required by building codes to allow egress in the event of a fire, the smaller opening area may not meet the code required minimum dimensions. And removing the sash, although it may be easy to do, is not allowed as a solution to this problem since the building codes specifically requires the window to be opened in the normal manner.
Windows: The Triple Pane Dilemma
If a double pane window is better than a single pane window, should I use triple pane windows?This is getting to be an appropriate question, "Should a window retrofit use triple pane windows?" The vinyl window manufactures are getting so good at making energy-efficient windows, it doesn't take much for them to throw in another pane of glass or two. Wonder if we will be considering quad pane windows one of these days?If you were really interested in saving energy and wanted the best wall construction possible, you wouldn't put a window in the wall to begin with. A wall without a window has a greater R-value and fewer air leaks. We know how to build a wall that will separate the outdoors from the indoors - what we don't know how to do is build a wall that will keep the outdoors out and the indoors in and still let light through. Come to think about it, our need to let light in is at the root of the problem.Actually, letting light in is just one of the needed benefits of having a wall with a window. Being able to see through the wall is another benefit and being able to get out of a room during a fire is another. Energy wise, a door is not much better than a window, so I guess windows are here to stay.The Space Between the Glass:A window with more than one piece of glass is a real blessing for saving energy and helping with indoor comfort. There is more to a vinyl window than just several panes of glass. Two panes of glass also come with an insulated frame, mounting flange, and better air seals. But the most important part is not the glass, but the space between the glass. Considering window performance, it's the space between the glass that makes the difference.The Future of Windows:In the near future, the efficiency ratings of windows will continue to drop. The only way a window manufacturer will be able to reach the energy efficiency ratings of the future is with three or four panes of glass. If you are seriously considering a retrofit window project, you should select the best window for your climate and that means the window will have three panes of glass.Yes, three pane windows are more expensive than two pane windows. Shop around for the best U-factor and the best SHGC for the best price. If finances are the deciding factor, it will be better to install two triple pane windows than three double pane windows. Stick with the triple pane window and you will have greater energy efficiency for the future which will save you money for years to come.P.S. Buy your windows and window installation from a local glass company or a licensed general contractor. Please don't buy our windows from a super salesman at a home show that has all the financing you need and a worthless lifetime warranty to go with it.Thanks for stopping by, please come back soon, but I won't leave the light on for you...