Windows 101

In the half-century between World War II and the late 1990s, the industry for window innovation was painted shut. Average homeowners had very few options in terms of style or material, and the generic, single-pane facades across the United States.

Since then, the industry has burst wide open, and the possibilities seem endless. We’ve gone from famine to feast, and it can be overwhelming trying to decide which make and design to get.

So, we’ve called in the professionals at North Georgia Replacement Windows for help navigating the complex universe of modern window options, starting with the most obvious question:

How do you know if it’s time to replace your windows?

Window replacement is not a casual decision. It’s a hefty expense, but one that carries an extraordinary payoff. Beyond improving the comfort and character of your home, upgrading your window units recoups 70-80% of replacement costs in added home value.

Here, the experts at North Georgia Replacement list the common signs that your current windows are not up to snuff:

  • Age: 15-30 years old is the general lifespan of good-quality windows (homes built prior to 2004 were not subject to current energy code standards requiring Low Emissivity glass)
  • Foggy glass: This is caused by “seal failure”, which allows moisture to enter between the panes of double pane windows. “Once the problem has appeared, it will likely become an issue throughout the house.”
  • Rot, deterioration, and paint chipping
  • Leaking during rainfall
  • Dead insects on the sills
  • Termites
  • Difficult to open or close
  • Indoor temperature issues

What are the most popular window designs on the market?

Good riddance to the days of trying to squeeze your arm under the window rim to wash the outside pane or falling off a ladder. These modern designs facilitate cleaning, improve character, and increase efficiency:

  • Double-hung: Has two “sashes,” stacked panes of glass suspended in frames that move up and down vertically
  • Casement: Open with a crank
  • Awning: Open outward from the top
  • Hopper: Open outward from the bottom
  • Double/triple pane: Two/three pieces of glass that may have inert gas (argon or krypton) between them to insulate
  • Bay/Bow: Protrude from the exterior of the house and provide a few more square feet of living space
  • Fixed: Can’t be opened. Mainly to provide light or enhance a view

How do you know if windows are energy efficient?

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that “heat loss from inefficient windows can account for 10-25% of your homes heating bills.” There are a handful of handy labels to measure a window’s efficiency, but three top the list:

  1. U-factor: (0-1) Measures how fast indoor heat can escape to the outside in the winter (or enter in the summer). Lower is better.
  2. Low-E: Low Emissivity reduces heat transfer.
  3. SHGC: (0-1) Solar heat gain coefficient. Measures the ratio of heat from the outdoors that enters the house through the windows. Lower is better.

How much do windows cost?

From least-to-most expensive, here is the average price scale per one window unit, minus installation:

  • Vinyl/PVC: ($200-$800). Most popular since the 1970s. Maintenance free, good insulation, moisture resistant.
  • Aluminum/metal: ($500-$900) Modern, sleek design. Least energy efficient, so fairly unpopular and many modern installers don’t carry this type. 
  • Composite: ($600-$1000) A combination of wood fibers and thermo-plastic polymers. Resembles wood. Strong, resists moisture and decay better than real wood. Can be textured, stained, and painted.
  • Fiberglass: ($750-$1200 per window) Fastest growing option today. Incredibly strong. Some estimates say it lasts 40% longer than vinyl counterparts. More efficient, environmentally friendly, and have a near “zero thermal expansion rate,” i.e. tight seals.
  • Wood and Clad wood: ($800-$1500) Most aesthetically pleasing in a classic sense. Requires high maintenance.

Whatever your individual aesthetic -- old Victorian or urban sleek -- the contractors at North Georgia Replacement Windows work with you one-on-one to choose the window design that is most compatible with the architecture of your home (you don’t want to put Monster-Truck tires on a Mini Copper!) – all the while improving efficiency for decades to come.

A few questions about windows answered. 

Contact our friends at North Georgia Replacement Windows to schedule your personal consultation today.

 


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