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How To Choose Replacement Windows for Your Home

Posted: Thursday, June 24th, 2010 | Filed under: Green shading, Greener living, Home cooling, sustainable living
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A guest post by Kathy Brock

Kathy Brock has been in the energy efficient windows business for over a decade and enjoys sharing tips with first time buyers. Her business, Superior Window Company, offers a variety of replacement window choices for any budget.

Shading systems for new windows

Shading systems for new windows

Replacement windows can help improve the appearance of your home, increase its curbside appeal and help protect it from the elements which can translate into substantial savings in your heating and cooling bills. Modern windows rely on a wide array of technologies to achieve a level of energy efficiency as high as five times that of traditional windows. Often terms like R-Value, U factor and Low-E mean little to the average consumer. Several things are important to consider when shopping for new windows.

Style and Installation

The three most prevalent types of residential windows are casement, double hung and sliding. Casement windows have the best efficiency and most sound sealing quality. In addition, casement windows give you unobstructed views top-to-bottom and side-to-side. They open fully – with a crank as opposed to sliding, allowing them to be engineered to fit snugly against the seal and prevent leaks. Double hung windows are the most traditional type – they consist of an upper and lower glass pane. Opening simply requires sliding the bottom portion of the window up. These windows often end up with a damaged seal over a period of time. They do not offer the same degree of insulation from winds and weather. A sliding window is similar to a double hung window. The only major difference is it slides open horizontally as opposed to up and down.

Before choosing a style of window, consult with local authorities about building codes. Many states have specific requirements for replacement windows in new or remodeled homes. Windows purchased from a local replacement windows company will likely be in compliance.


Two primary ratings for windows help spell out the efficiency they will provide for your home. These are the R-Value and U-Factor. Understanding these values will help you make an informed decision about which replacement windows to choose.

R-Value is an overall rating of the energy efficiency of your windows as per the middle of the glass. The outer edges of the glass will have a lower rating. The R-Value lets you know how much heat loss the windows can prevent. The higher the rating, the better, especially important if you live in cold weather climates. The lowest rating you want to consider if you are building an energy efficient home is R-3. Remember, the higher you go, the more efficient the window, the greater the cost.

U-Factor is the second most important rating for a window provided you do not live in a cold climate. If you do, you will want to put equal weight on this rating as the window’s R-Value. This factor gauges how well a window prevents air leaks around the frame. A U-Factor of under 0.35 is considered to be energy efficient.

Low-E (Low Emissive) windows are among the most energy efficient windows. They feature two panes of glass with an inert gas between them to act as an insulator. This can be combined with a single-pane or double-pane window glazing to provide maximum insulation. The transparency of inert gas allows Low-E windows to be a great choice without sacrificing clarity when looking through the window.

Other Factors

Condensation prevention can be important to help keep the windows clean and free of mold. Installing windows featuring warm-air technology which keeps the air around the window closer to the interior protects against condensation.

UV penetration is an important factor if you live in a warm climate. Windows with a UV-blocking coating will prevent UV rays from fading your furniture and carpet.

Some energy companies offer rebates to individuals that purchase energy efficient windows. Be sure to check with local utility companies to see whether they are offering such incentives. You can typically receive rebates bringing the cost of an energy efficient window down to about the same as a traditional one.

Finding replacement windows does not have to be a headache or difficult process. Armed with the above information, you can make well-informed decisions about the quality of the windows you want purchase. Unless you are familiar with installing windows, it would be best to seek a professional for installation. All the ratings in the world won’t mean anything if the window is not installed and sealed correctly from the elements.

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