Stop the Energy Drain

The right windows can help you cut your heating and cooling costs. But you have to do your homework, that's for sure. I'm in the process right now of getting bids on replacing windows in my home. I'm amazed at the lack of professionalism and how difficult it is just to get a decent bid.

So here are some tips regarding considerations for saving heating fuel that you should factor into your plans:

Energy Drains

That beautiful window where you stand to watch your roses bloom could be the biggest energy drain on your home. Windows are huge thermal holes and you can expect to lose 30-40% of your heating and cooling costs, according some of the industry experts. I'm not an expert, but just common sense tells you this is true.

They even say that replacing all residential windows in the US with more efficient models would save $7 billion over the next 15 years. But choosing replacement windows or new windows for your home is a daunting task. There are more than 300 manufacturers making them out there and it's impossible to compare apples to apples.

Their Own Bells and Whistles

Each manufacturer pushes their own bells and whistles. Things like: blinds or grilles between panes, tilt capabilities for easy cleaning, storm-protection features. To be sure you will pay for these goodies. You cannot make a blanket statement when comparing windows. Not only does each manufacturer have different lines of their own, they are constantly in a state of evolution.

National Brands

Some of the national brands that seem to be favoured by contractors include: Andersen, Certainteed, Caradco, Lyf-Tym, Marvin, Norandex, Pella, Peachtree and Simonton. Each offers several different lines that will fit most wallets - well, that's relative isn't it?

Expect to pay about $350-$400 per standard-size, double-hung windows, installation included (depending on construction costs in your area).

Meeting Your Needs

Consider your environment and architecture of your home. You'll want to match or complement what's already on your house. Choose a window that is right for your climate, depending on your priorities for cooling and heating. Think about what kind of maintenance you want to be able to do. Wood windows need paint or stain. Vinyl windows require cleaning with something gentle like Soft Scrub.

Fiberglass frame windows ar arriving on the market now and are expected to make a major impact. PPG makes SunClean, a self-cleaning glass that can be used in residential windows - for those of us who hate to clean windows.

Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Rating

Regardless of what you want or need, look for the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star rating on the label because multi-pane glass is no longer the main measure of a good window. A quality window will include some of these: welded seams, Low-E solar-protective coatings, gases between the panes, good weather stripping and glass spacers made from steel, foam, fiberglass or vinyl.

But no matter what they include, the most essential element is a good reputable warranty. A warranty is only as good as the company that stands behind it. So be sure you are dealing with a company that has a history of backing up its product and taking care of its customers.

Go for looks, how they opperate, but mainly who backs them up!

Lifetime warranties don't mean anything if the contractor and the manufacturer are no longer in business.

Factors to Look For

  • U-Factor - Measures how well a product prevents heat from escaping. Ratings generally fall between 0.20 and 1.20. The insulating value is indicated by the R-value, which is the inverse of the U-value. The lower the U-value, the greater a window's resistance to heat flow - the better its insulating value.
  • Low-Emittance Coating (Low-E) - Virtually invisible and microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide layers are deposited on a window to reduce the U-factor by suppressing heat flow. Low-E windows cost about 10-15% more than regular windows, but they reduce energy loss by 30-50%.
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) - Measures how well a product blocks heat caused by sunlight. Is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window's solar heat-gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits, which ultimately affects your cooling bills.
  • Visible Transmittance (VT) - Measures how much light comes through a product. VT is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the VT, the more light you get.
  • Air Leakage (AL) - Air leakage rating is expressed as the equivalent cubic feet of air passing through a square foot of window area (cfm/sq ft). Heat loss and gain occur through cracks in the window assembly. The lower the AL, the less air will pass through cracks.
  • Condensation Resistance (CR) - Measures the ability of a product to resist formation of condensation on interior surface. The higher the CR rating, the better that window is at resisting condensation formation. It cannot predict condensation, but it can provide a credible method of comparing the potential for condensation formation. CR is expressed as a number between 0 and 100.

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