Windows offer much more to a home than just view to the outside. From stabilizing indoor temperature to adding visual appeal, windows are among the most important components of a house.
That said, shopping for new windows isn’t a process that should be rushed. Choosing the right design involves considering differences in materials, style and glass. It’s important to understand how these factors will complement or hinder the internal environment of the home.
There are many different window styles available for both residential and commercial buildings, and it takes a bit of research to identify the right designs for your needs and goals. Here are six tips to keep in mind when comparing the options:
1. Examine Your Energy Needs
If you decide to install new windows, a smart first step is investigating how well the current ones are managing temperature and energy costs. The goal is to determine which qualities of your existing windows, if any, are not ideal for your home. Consulting a contractor can most definitely help here.
Most homeowners aim to keep the house cool in the summers and warm in the winters while minimizing energy cost. To accomplish this, it’s important to understand the ways in which different materials influence the performance of a window. Once you understand your personal energy needs, it’s time to compare the options.
2. Research the Available Options
Wood is a terrific material with beauty and functionality that few materials can match. What makes it troublesome for many homeowners, however, is the maintenance required.
Wood has to be repainted, or at least inspected, once or twice per year. As well, it must be kept clean.
Caulking and weather-stripping are very important for wood windows. If not properly maintained, the wood can rot or crack and the windows ultimately may require replacement.
Alternatives to wood windows include vinyl and fiberglass. Vinyl has become very popular in the past few decades as a cheap yet effective option. While efforts should be made to preserve already existing windows, especially if the house has some age to it that adds visual appeal, vinyl can save money while offering excellent energy-efficiency.
Fiberglass, while slightly more expensive than vinyl, is another great option as it’s designed with power savings in mind. Also, fiberglass can be painted to match the color of the house or to enhance energy-efficiency.
3. Consult an Experienced Contractor
Research is the key to finding the right windows for a home, but it’s always smart to consult a pro. An experienced contractor can help you narrow your search and can provide information as to how certain materials hold up in the local climate.
4. Examine the Different Types of Glass Available
Even after an informed decision has been made about the type of windows to install, choosing the right glass will also have a major effect on the performance of the windows. It’s recommended to go with Energy Star-rated glass that features a special glaze to reduce the amount of ultraviolet rays entering the house.
5. Browse Different Manufacturers and Styles
The style of window plays an important role in its functionality. Being familiar with the options available from different companies can help you narrow down the selections as to which manufacturer is best.
6. Match your Goals and Needs with the Ideal Window Style
After identifying the right window glass and structure, the next step is comparing the styles and finding one that suits the home’s energy and aesthetic needs. Though certain styles, such as double-hung windows, are very common, they’re not always the best choice when it comes to energy conservation.
In more extreme climates, the space between the two sheets of glass can facilitate the transfer of cool or warm air into the home. Casement windows are great choices for areas experiencing frequent winds since they form a tight seal. The ideal option really depends on the area of the house and the climate.
When you’re considering a major remodeling job on a home’s windows, every possible factor should come into play: materials, glass, designs, styles and others. With the right information, windows can save money and add personality to any home.
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Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov