Windows brighten our homes, keep out rain and snow, and allow us to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, while snug inside. But drafty windows can also result in skyrocketing electric and fuel bills.
Consider upgrading and installing new windows, particularly in older homes. It could cut your energy costs by over 25 per cent.
Window Frames come in a range of choices:
Vinyl frames are very popular since they are affordable (compared with wood frames) and are energy efficient. They never need to be painted and they come in a variety of options such as casement windows, single and double-hung and awning-style windows which hinge at the bottom and open outward. In addition, they come with thicker frames (which can be stuffed with insulation to keep your house warmer) than traditional wood and aluminum windows thus making them more energy efficient.
Aluminum frames are also affordable and equally low maintenance as vinyl, as well as being extremely durable. The main problem with aluminum framed windows is that the metal conducts heat. If you plan to use aluminum window frames be sure they come with a thermal break. This is a piece of plastic or rubber that separated the inside and outside of the frame to keep the heat under control.
Fiberglass frames are durable, energy-efficient and low in maintenance. The frames have insulation within the cavities which helps to keep the house warm in cold weather.
Wood frames are probably the way to go if you have an old house. They will look authentic and are beautiful, but are not as energy efficient as vinyl – the reason being that they expand and contract depending on the weather. But the main drawback besides price is their upkeep – they must be painted or stained regularly. You can now purchase wood windows that are vinyl on the outside and wood on the interior of the house and this helps to reduce the maintenance required.
Composite Frames are comprised from a mixture of particleboard and laminated strand lumber (manufactured from thin pieces of wood). They are more energy efficient than conventional wood and have better resistance to moisture and decay.
Single-Glazed versus Double-Glazed
No contest – double-glazed windows are your best bet for energy efficiency. Double-glazed windows have an inert gas between the two panes, which effectively keeps the cold out. Look for windows that carry the Energy Star seal and you’ll know that they are 15 to 40 per cent more efficient than those that do not carry the label.
Manufacturers have also come up with other heat-absorbing window glazes such as tinted glass or with low-emissivity (low-e) coatings which can reduce the energy lost by up to 50 per cent. The downside is that low-e type windows cost approximately 10 to 15 per cent more than regular windows. Reflective coatings can also be installed in windows. They reduce glare but they also block more light from streaming in.
How do you choose the right style of window for your house? Here are some easy pointers to help you:
If you have a traditional or colonial-style house consider a double-hung window. These are windows that move up and down and tilt in for cleaning. You might also consider having six or eight panes in each sash.
Vinyl and aluminum windows work well in modern or contemporary homes.
Try swing-out casements if you live in a ranch-style bungalow or house.
Wood frames work best when refinishing an older model
Make sure to give your new windows a good washing before the winter sets in.
By: Beverley Burgess Bell