Drafty windows will make your home uncomfortably cold all winter, which causes the furnace to run more and raises your heating bill. Here are some of the features you should look for when buying new windows.
You can install new windows yourself or have them professionally installed. The advantage of a professional window installation is that you will be assured that they are properly installed. No matter how good the windows are, if they are not installed correctly, they will be just as drafty. Windows can be difficult to install if you haven’t done it before. Because of this, you will want to strongly consider hiring a professional to do the job for you. A professional window installation professional will also help you determine which type of windows will be best for your home. They will have a large variety of windows to choose from so that you are able to choose some that will fit your style and desired function the best.
The R-value is one of the most important factors to look at. It is a measure of the insulating performance of a specific material. In the case of windows, it measures the glass energy efficiency and the glass insulating ability. The higher the R-value, the better it is. The R-value is determined by the number of panes in the window; the season; the spacing of the panes; whether or not there is a gas, like argon, in the spaces; and if the window has a coating.
A single pane window will have an R-value of 0.9, a triple pane window with .5 inch spacing will have an R-value of 3.22. If there is argon gas between the panes, the R-value increases. You can also get Low-Emittance (Low-E) coated windows, which will raise the R-value even more.
Window Frame Choices
The material of the window frame also affects how well the window can keep out drafts. Aluminum frames are the worst unless they have a thermal break, which is a strip of urethane that stops the transfer of heat through the frame. Wood and vinyl frames are both better than basic aluminum frames.
You can purchase vinyl frames filled with foam, which are better at keeping out cold drafts but are more expensive. Fiberglass frames are slightly better and the most durable window frame.
Double-hung windows open with the bottom portion sliding up. They might not be the best option in colder climates because drafts can enter in between the sliders. Casement windows use a crank to open the windows and are better at keeping out wind and drafts because they seal when they close. They require more maintenance because they have hinges and seals, and the cranks can wear out. You might want to even consider adding a little more space to your kitchen or living room and installing a bay window. These types of windows can add value to your home.
If you are planning to replace your windows, there are several styles of windows and framing materials you can choose from. You will also need to understand the R-value of the window since some of the decisions will depend on how extreme your winters are.
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