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Energy Efficient Window Treatment
Windows Help Frame Your World, So Consider All the Available
by: ARA Content
- While window shopping may seem as clear as glass, there
a number of things that homeowners should consider when determining
the window that best meets their building or remodeling project
needs. Different styles of windows and types of frames and glass
create a myriad of choices. Simplify the window shopping process
by understanding the three basic components of a window and how
they impact the design, feel and energy efficiency of a home.
Determine the most appropriate style of window for a home by
considering the style of the home and how the window should function
given its location. First, become familiar with six basic styles:
- Picture -- A large window that does not open.
- Gliding -- A window with two sashes, at least one of
which slides horizontally past the other.
- Single or Double-Hung -- A window with one or two vertically
sliding sashes in a single frame.
- Casement -- A hinged window with a sash that cranks
- Awning -- A window, hinged at the top that opens outward.
Similar to a casement window.
- Bay or Bow -- A combination of three or more windows
projecting out from a room.
"A house's facade can be transformed from boring to beautiful
with the right style windows," suggests Barbara Winfield,
editor for Woman's Day Home Remodeling and Makeovers Magazine.
"Deciding on the shape and size of your windows requires
an understanding of both the style and scale of your home. For
example: a casement window lends itself to a Prairie, Tudor or
Ranch-style home, single or double-hung works well for a classic
Cape-Cod or New England Saltbox. Don't forget to keep your the
exterior view in mind as well while planning your window theme."
Finally, keep in mind the location of the new window and how
it will need to function. Consider using a double-hung window
for a window that will be installed adjacent to patios, decks
and walkways as they remain flush with the wall when open.
As the most visible component of a window, the frame is a key
element that shapes the aesthetic both inside and outside of the
home. But there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes
to finding the right type of frame, such as its insulation, durability
and required maintenance. There are four main materials used to
construct frames -- vinyl, wood, clad wood and composite. Vinyl
is the most inexpensive framing option and requires relatively
low maintenance. However, vinyl frames may deteriorate over time
and could be less durable than other materials. While requiring
more of an investment and upkeep than vinyl frames, wood frames
inherently offer superior insulation and strength. Cladding, a
technique pioneered by Andersen Windows in 1966, allows a homeowner
to have the beauty of a wood-finished interior, but with the durability
of a low-maintenance exterior, like vinyl or aluminum. Composite
frames blend both synthetic and natural materials and create windows
that require little upkeep.
Glazing, simply put, is the glass in a window. While seemingly
transparent, there are a number of different options when it comes
to glass - from the number of panes of glass to special coatings
-- all of which make a significant impact on a window's performance
and ultimately, a homeowners' energy bill. For homeowners following
historical construction guidelines for older homes, single-pane
windows are often times the only option. However, given their
relatively low energy efficiency, single-pane windows slowly are
disappearing from the market. A double-pane window, today's standard,
is made with two sheets of glass and provides better energy efficiency
than a single pane because of a gas that is sealed between the
two layers of glass. A third glazing option is triple-pane glass.
It uses the same technology as a double-pane window but includes
a second layer of gas between its second and third pane. It is
generally more expensive, heavier and less common in today's windows.
Things to Consider
A window worth purchasing will bear a National Fenestration Rating
Council (NFRC) label. NFRC is a non-profit organization that provides
accurate, "apple-to-apple" information to measure and
compare the energy performance of windows and doors. Energy efficiency
of a window based on four ratings:
- U-Factor -- measures how well a product prevents heat
from escaping. The lower the number, the more the window will
help reduce heating bills.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient -- metric for how well
a product blocks heat caused by sunlight. The lower the number,
the more it will help reduce air conditioning bills.
- Visible Transmittance -- measures how much light comes
through a product. The closer to 1, the more light is transmitted.
- Air Leakage -- measures how much air can seep through
window cracks and is measured in cubic feet of air that penetrates
a square foot of window surface per minute.
Other Important Factors
Warranty -- Remember to review the warranty policy of a window
before making a purchase. A quality window should come equipped
with a warranty that covers all materials including the glass
and frame. Some manufacturers, like Andersen, also provide transferable
warranties, which can add value to a home when a homeowner decides
to sell it.
There are a number of helpful Web sites for homeowners on the
market for new windows, such as NFRC's site at www.nfrc.com. Also,
consider going directly to the source and visit a manufacturer's
site, such as www.andersenwindows.com or a retailer's site, such
as The Home Depot (www.homedepot.com).
Courtesy of ARA Content
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