Making Smart Choices: Buying Replacement Windows

As with most home improvement projects, window replacement takes careful planning. This upgrade, after all, will directly affect how you keep your home looking good, comfortable and energy-efficient. Window replacement also involves a significant amount of time and money, and potential mistakes can lead to overspending and a longer project timeline. That’s why when buying your new units, you should seek to make smarter choices. For instance:

Learn About the Warning Signs That Lead to a Window Replacement

Examine your windows closely to check for any signs of serious damage that they might have sustained due to age or extreme weather. Watch out for warning signs like cracked, rotted and weakened frames, broken glass or inoperable hardware.

Is your energy bill higher than usual? Gaps and holes between the window frames and the wall may cause energy to leak out – and when repair work is no longer a viable option, it would be smart to instead invest in window replacement.

Understand Why You Should Replace Your Windows

Old and failing windows may compromise your home’s look and feel. Newer and more energy-efficient ones, however, will greatly improve upon them. They can enhance your home’s curb appeal and overall value. You can also benefit from monthly heating and cooling bills that are up to 30% lower. Your home’s indoor comfort will also vastly improve as newer windows can help your living spaces remain cooler during summer and warmer in the winter. Because they also have greater insulating value, new windows can effectively filter out outdoor noise. This leads to a quieter, more enjoyable home. How about maintenance? New windows are made stronger and longer-lasting, eliminating the need for frequent upkeep.

Take Into Account the Replacement Window’s Energy Performance

Not all replacement windows are the same when it comes to providing energy efficiency. That’s why the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) operates a voluntary program that tests, rates and labels windows and other products based on energy performance ratings. With its iconic black and white label, the NFRC can help you compare how energy-efficient one window is to another. Make sure to note the:

  • U-Value. This is the rate of heat flowing through the entire window. The lower the U-value, the more energy-efficient the window.
  • R-Value. This measures how resistant window glass is to heat. Windows with a higher R-value have a greater resistance to heat.
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). This measures how well the entire window blocks heat. A lower SHGC number means the window radiates less solar heat.


With these ratings, picking the most energy-efficient windows from a range of brands becomes easier.

Learn About the Factors That Affect Overall Window Performance

When investing in new windows, make sure to take these essentials into account so you can make most of your window replacement:

  • Energy Efficiency. The right windows can help improve your home’s energy efficiency. Sometimes, just the choice of window style is in itself enough – casement and double-hung windows, for example, can provide greater access to natural ventilation. By cooling your home naturally, these units can help reduce costs for air conditioning. On the opposite end of the spectrum, picture windows, which are fixed, won’t help at all with natural ventilation. They do, however, have a durable, more airtight seal that prevents energy from leaking out of your home.
  • Low Maintenance. You’ll want your new windows to be virtually maintenance-free. That’s why you should pick windows with a fade-resistant exterior-interior trim. This eliminates the need for constant scraping and repainting. Additionally, choose windows with removable or tilt-in sashes to make cleaning easier.
  • Insulated Frames. Replacement windows with insulated frames not only help reduce noise transfer; they can also improve your home’s efficiency by preventing energy loss.
  • Low-Emissivity (Low-E) Glass. This advanced glass option lowers the amount of heat transfer into your home, leading to greater indoor comfort minus the high cooling bills. Low-E glass can also prevent serious damage to your interiors by blocking harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Window Style. Given how windows can help define the overall look of your home, make sure they actually match with your home’s architecture and exterior color palette. Historical accuracy, after all, is important when you’re aiming to boost curb appeal and home value.


Consider a Good Window Material

How long your new windows last and how they perform will depend on their material. Some of the most popular options available today include:

Vinyl Windows. Cost-efficient and practically maintenance-free, vinyl windows don’t require repainting and are available in a wide variety of colors and designs. They can also be custom-fit and -measured.

Fiberglass Windows. Known for their durability and long service life, fiberglass windows also offer great insulating properties for better efficiency. Aside from effectively resisting rot, these windows expand and contract uniformly in extreme weather, preventing any potential for warping. They can also be painted after installation.

Wood Windows. Beautiful on their own, wood windows can be made even more appealing with the right paint and stain. These windows come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, providing your home with a classic look. Wood windows resist condensation and offer top-notch insulating values and strength.

Aluminum Windows. Durability and sleek good looks go hand in hand when you’ve got aluminum windows. While relatively cost-effective, these windows offer superior resistance to rot, rust and most types of weather. You can also customize them with a good paint color.

Composite Windows. They can provide the best features of other window materials, including wood’s natural look and vinyl’s maintenance-free performance. Composite windows come in different fade-resistant colors and can be formed into any shape, size or style.

Window replacement can be easy when you take these factors into account. By making more informed decisions on this upgrade, you can enjoy its benefits to the fullest and boost your home’s value.

Author Bio:

Greg Cowen is co-owner of West Michigan Glass Block, a premier home improvement company serving Western Michigan homeowners since 1984. Aside from glass block work, West Michigan Glass Block specializes in replacement windows, egress (escape) windows, entry and storm doors, tuckpointing, chimney repair, drainage issues, vinyl siding and stone work.


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