If you’ve decided to upgrade your exterior windows, you must consider several little details pertaining to the functionality, energy efficiency and appearance of your new windows. There are a seemingly limitless number of combinations, so how do you start narrowing down your choices? To help ensure you get the most from your investment, consider the following when choosing your exterior windows.
Functionality and Style
It’s likely your old windows were sticky and difficult to open. Fortunately, improvements in window design keep new installations functioning well for years to come. Instead of focusing on whether the window opens easily, you should consider how you want the window to open. Awnings pivot outward on a hinge located at the top of the window. Similarly, casement windows open outward on a side-mounted hinge. Sliders open horizontally while single- and double-hung windows slide vertically. The style you choose could very well be dictated by the existing windows you already have, though you certainly have the option of widening the openings and installing larger windows.
If you’re upgrading leaky old single-pane windows, you recognize the impact inefficient windows can have on your comfort and energy bills. To help improve insulation, look for argon gas-filled double- or triple-pane windows. Compare U-factors as well. The lower the rating, the slower the glass loses heat, which is a quality you want in your new windows. In our Southern California climate, look for windows with a U-factor of 0.7 or lower. A low-E film also helps block UV light from the sun, lowering interior heat gain in the summer and preventing carpet and upholstery from fading. If you’re planning to be in your home for at least five more years, high-efficiency windows can pay for themselves in energy savings.
You want to keep your investment clean, and the easiest way to do this is by choosing replacement windows with removable sashes. Awnings and sliders are two styles that come with this feature, making them particularly good choices for upper-story windows you can’t access from outside.
Window frame material is very important in determining the appearance, durability and energy efficiency of your replacement windows. A few options include wood, fiberglass, vinyl and aluminum. Clad windows are another option, which incorporate a wood core encased in a more modern, durable material. Work closely with a professional to help you determine what material would work best for your home.
This option is certainly worth considering. Tinted windows block out more UV rays and thus help keep your home cooler in the summer. Darker windows also provide improved privacy over un-tinted windows.