Easy tips for buying home windows

February 27, 2015

Old or improperly installed windows can cost a surprising amount of money each year in lost heating and cooling costs. If you’re looking to cut down on your power bills or want new windows to fit with your decor, consider these tips to help you find windows that look great and save you money.

Tip #1: Consider different window types

Here are a few common types of window styles.

Slider windows: With a series of fixed and movable panes that can open half way, sliders offer a little ventilation but can accommodate full screens. They save space because they don’t require any clearance to open in or out.

Casement window: These windows are side-mounted and move out vertically with a crank. Casement windows scoop incoming air and offer more ventilation than sliders.

Awning window: By opening from the bottom, awning windows can provide some ventilation even when it's raining.

Hopper window: The opposite of awning windows, hoppers are hinged at the bottom and open from the top. Most basement windows are hoppers so they can funnel in air from above.

Bay window: Bay windows bring in more light and provide better views than their flat counterparts. They consist of three panes that project out of the wall, with the side panels usually opening for ventilation. A curved variety, called a bow window, is also available.

Double-hung window: A series of window panes stacked on top of each other, double-hung windows give a classic look while providing excellent control over ventilation. Most air conditioners can easily fit in one of the openings.

Tip #2: Consider efficiency ratings

Every window rated by a third-party efficiency council has a series of numbers that gives you more detail on how that window can save you money.

U-Factor: This number rates how effective the window is at trapping heat inside. It ranges from 0.20 to 1.20, with a lower number being more effective.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This number relates to how much solar heat the window lets through. The number ranges from zero to one. Get the lowest number possible in warm climates and the highest possible in cold ones.

Visible Transmittance (VT): The VT rating measures how much light can pass through a window, measured on a scale from zero to one. A higher number lets in more light.

Tip #3: Consider different window features

  • Double and triple-paned windows offer superior insulation and protection.
  • Windows in bathrooms or near doors should be made with tempered glass, which shatters into smaller pieces if broken.
  • Consider new trim when replacing your windows. Old trim will likely look out of place and get damaged when your new windows are installed.

Once you've decided on what type of window to purchase, consider a professional window installation company. Replacing windows can be a highly technical and complicated task to do correctly on your own.

Easy tips for buying home windows
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