The Best Replacement Windows
Replacement Windows and Understanding Window Energy Ratings
I was wondering if a person can go through life and never buy a replacement window? Seems to me that most everyone must have, at some time, found themselves wandering around the building supply store wondering if the window display contained the best replacement windows.
Whether it was the baseball from next door, the rock from under the lawn mower, or the cool draft the comes with the high power bill, at some point, my guess is, we have all been out there looking for the best replacement windows.
Windows that beg to be replaced:
Single pane windows with metal or aluminum windows are the ones that are begging to be replaced. Finding the best replacement windows to replace these is not hard. Almost any window will perform better than the metal framed window with one piece of glass.
Double pane windows with metal frames are a close second on the list of windows begging to be replaced. They were a good idea and everything, two panes of glass for better weatherization, but in these windows, the second pane of glass just doesn’t add much. More for looks than performance.
Wood framed windows, like the old farmhouse, have class and character. Luckily, a wood framed window responds to air sealing and adding storm windows very well. Repair the wood frames, air seal the perimeter and connections, and have a set of storm windows ready to snap into place for the winter. Now you’ve got some performance and you’ve maintained that wood window class.
If you have vinyl framed, double pane windows you are hoping to replace, you might as well give up on finding a replacement just like the old ones. Replacing just one window and having the windows match can be a headache. Window manufacturers have changed products often and they have bought each other out like a kid in a candy store. The window you’re looking for probably is not even available today.
Walking into a big box building store and picking a window off the shelf will indeed get you a window with modern performance. Chances are it will have an insulated spacer, some low-e coating, and possibly some argon gas between the glass panes.
If you are really looking for performance and are interested in the best replacement windows, you will need to either do an amazing amount of research or you will need to work with a contractor that specializes in window replacement.
A true window contractor will have the ability to special order a custom window just for your particular situation. Frame color and width can be adjusted. The amount of vinyl frame that is visible from the outside and indoors is flexible. The window contractor will take your climate zone into consideration and notice whether the replacement window is going on the North or South side of the home.
The window contractor can take out the old window and actually provide the best replacement windows.
Manufactures Window Rating Labels:
The NFRC ( National Fenestration Rating Council ) has gone to a lot of work to come up with a rating system so we can tell the difference between windows and how they will perform. Comparing window products becomes easy once you know how windows are rated. If you can learn about these labels and the information they contain, you can impress the summer help down at the building store with your window IQ.
What is U-Factor?
The U-factor is a number that indicates how well the window blocks heat transfer. The lower the number the better the window acts as insulation. If you live in an extreme weather area, it would be a good idea to chose the window with the lower U-factor number.
Several years ago, the standard window had a U-35 rating. Window’s have improved, today a U-30 rating is more average.
What is Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)?
Solar heat gain is a little tricky. What it really measures is how much the sun will be able to heat up the room. SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The lower a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits to the house.
Solar heat gain then becomes an important climate factor. Where do you live? Are the replacement windows going on the sunny side of the home or the shady side? How much do you want the sun to warm up the room?
What is Visible Transmittance?
Visible Transmittance ( VT ) ratings indicate how much light penetrates the window into your home. In this case, a higher rating number is a better value. The VT rating varies between 0 and 1 like solar heat gain. Most windows will have a VT rating of .30 to .70. The higher the number, the more light the window let’s into the room.
Low-E coatings can work against the visible light factor. A low U-factor might mean the Low-E coating on the window is fairly heavy. Low-E is a glazing that is added to the glass to add resistance to heat transfer. More Glazing means more insulation value but less light transfer.
What is Condensation Resistance?
After all the mold I have seen on and around window glass, the condensation resistance factor ( CRF ) is one of my favorite window ratings. The rating number between 1 and 100 will provide an indication of the windows resistance to allowing condensation to form on the indoor glass surface.
Generally, most windows today are rated between 30 and 80 for conventionally glazed windows. The larger the CFR number, the more the window protects you from unwanted window sweating.
The Best Replacement Windows:
Now you are armed with valuable information that will help you decide which replacement window is best for your home and your situation. Don’t let the college, part-time worker at Mighty Hardware Warehouse get the window knowledge upper hand. The Best Replacement Window for you is the window that fits your home, in your climate, in that particular room, on that side of the house.
If you want to have the help of a quality window contractor, go to the smallest building supply store in your town that handles windows and asked them for the name and phone number of the best window contractor around. I bet they know.
Now, stop wandering around the building supply store and head over to detectenergy.com, better hurry, because I won’t leave the light on for you…