Windows not only add an appealing touch to a house but also increase its energy-efficiency. Homeowners have a plenty of replacement window options available to choose from and make their homes more environmentally sound.
There is no better time to replace windows when they no longer serve their life’s purpose. Windows that no longer enhance the appeal of the house and contribute towards high energy bills must be replaced with immediate effect. Energy-efficient windows, also known as fenestration, can greatly help reduce a home's heating and cooling costs.
Replacement windows are designed in such a way that they sit perfectly well with the existing structure where the old windows stood. While considering the most suitable replacement windows, one must look at the kind of glass that will work best towards reaping efficiency gains. For this purpose, a window glass’ R-factor and the U-factor must be checked. These factors are in fact performance ratings assigned to windows by manufacturers to show their energy efficiency.
While a window’s R-factor indicates its insulation properties, the U-factor shows its capability to keep the heat in. R-factor values start at 0.9 in range and go up to a rating of 3 or more indicating superior insulation. With U-factor values on the other hand, the lower they are the better. Therefore, a value ranging from 1.1 to 0.3 will work best.
Homeowners can choose between three kinds of glass windows. These are:
- Low-emissivity or low-e glass windows. These windows come with a special coating to either keep heat in or out, depending on the varying climatic conditions.
- Heat-absorbing glass windows. Such windows trap the solar energy and therefore keep the heat out. And as they prevent sunlight from penetrating the house, they help protect carpets, drapes and furniture from fading out.
- Reflective glass windows. Similar to heat-absorbing glass windows, reflective glass windows also keep the heat out. The only difference is that they come installed with a protective film to deflect harmful ultra-violet rays.
In addition, window frames must also be selected with great thought and care. The five main types of frames replacement windows are typically available in are aluminium, fibre-glass, wood, vinyl and fibrex.
- Aluminium frames have lost their popularity status as they are not considered the most energy efficient option and often cause the problems of condensation.
- Fibre-glass frames are quite expensive but because of their high R-factor, they are seen as a good cost-saving option.
- Wood frames also have a high R-factor as wood is a good insulator but their up-keep proves expensive as these frames require regular scraping and painting maintenance.
- Vinyl frames are not only energy-efficient but extremely popular due to their varying styles. The problem of condensation can be eliminated to a great extent as vinyl windows keep the edges of the window warm thereby disallowing temperature differences to arise.
- Fibrex frames are made of both wood and vinyl. By using the best features of wood and vinyl, these frames are highly energy-efficient with low maintenance.
While buying replacement windows, it is imperative to consider more than one supplier and get an estimate of costs. The costs must include all product, labour, and installation charges. Reading customer reviews will also help determine pros and cons of selecting a particular supplier. In the end, investing in up-gradation of window trims and sills may also be required to evenly match up to the newly purchased windows.