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Although the cost is not minor, replacing your windows to increase home value is one of the highest value-added remodeling projects for homeowners. Not only will new windows modernize the appearance of a home, they can also save a lot on energy bills. However, upgrading to energy efficient replacement windows just to save on energy bills is probably not worth it because of the long time to recoup your costs. How much you spend will depend on the condition of your existing frames and windowsills. Frame rot and condensation indicate it is time to replace your windows.
You will need to hire installers. Look for installers certified by the manufacturer of your chosen window. Do not let the contractor influence your window purchase decision for you. Your choice of purchase should determine your contractor.
Double-hung and casement styles are most popular. Double-hung styles are the typical windows where the top slides down and the bottom slides up to open. Most double-hung brands will have a tilt-in sash feature where the windows can be tilted inwards for easy-cleaning of the exterior side. Casement style windows are ones that typically crank open sideways.
As for frame materials, vinyl and wood are better choices. Wood is more expensive and requires upkeep, but looks better and can be pre-painted or stained at extra cost.
Most windows today are available with insulated glass and insulated coating to save energy. This is done by applying a low emissivity transparent coating to double-pane windows. Coatings applied to the external pane to reflect light and keep heat out. Coatings applied to internal panes keep heat in. A low-E coating factor means the window is more insulating. Low-E glass also reduces ultraviolet (UV) light, preventing sun-fade damage to furniture, fabrics, and rugs.
As for the glass itself, double-glazed or triple-glazed windows have two or three panes, respectively, to provide more insulation and noise reduction. The more panes, the more costly though. If condensation occurs between the panes, the window is poorly constructed. If safety is a concern, tempered glass crumbles when broken rather than shatter. There is also double-strength glass which is thicker.
Besides the low-E coating factor, there are other ratings to consider as well. The coating U-factor or U-value indicates the rate heat flows through the window. The lower the factor, the better the insulation.
Solar Heat Gain
The direction of the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is important depending on where you live. A higher number indicates more solar heat passes through the window, so if you live in a cold environment, this helps reduce your heating costs. Conversely, if you live in a hot environment, a lower SHGC is preferred to reduce cooling costs.
Finally, a window’s sound transmission class (STC) rating indicates noise reduction capability. A higher number means better noise reduction.
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