Whether you are building a new home or replacing old windows in your existing home, it’s not as simple as just measuring and picking out any kind of window. There are a vast amount of window products on the market. There are different materials, energy efficiency ratings, and styles. There are three important things to keep in mind when choosing your windows.
1. Know how to interpret the labels for the best efficiency you can buy.
- U Value - measures the rate of heat loss for a window. It can measure between about .20 and 1.20, the lower the number the better it’s heat retention.
- R Value - opposite of the U Value. The R Value measures the insulation efficiency.
- VT - the amount of light allowed through the window between 0 and 1. The higher the VT, the more light is coming through. You might want a higher VT on Northern-facing windows so allow more light in, and perhaps a lower number window in Southern-facing windows to provide a little more filtering.
- AL- the amount of air leakage the window has. The lower the number the better it is against leakage. This is an optional rating and some manufacturers may not disclose this.
- CR - compensation resistance. It measures how well the glass resists condensation. The higher the CR on a scale of 0-100, the better. This is also an optional rating manufacturers do not have to use. You may want to go with one who rates all the factors so that you know exactly what you can expect for performance. After all, your windows will probably last most of your lifetime.
2. Learn different styles and find the one that fits your home and your tastes.
Styles of windows are nearly limitless. There are all different kinds of shapes, styles, and decorative elements to consider. A few basic options to consider:
- Casement: Hinged on one side and swings open.
- Double Hung: Upper and lower halves both operable to slide up and down.
- Single Hung: Upper half is fixed and the lower half is moveable.
- Circle Top: Usually see on tall windows, it has a half moon shape top. Provides architectural interest to a basic double hung window.
- Bay Window: Provides a large middle picture window with either side having a double hung or casement window. It comes out from the wall so that it provides a large window shelf.
3. There are four primary window materials.
The most common materials used in making the frames of windows are aluminum, wood, vinyl, and fiberglass. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to your tastes preferences and the amount of upkeep you are willing to provide.
There are many options for your windows and they can be great fun picking them out. They can really make a difference and either have your home blend in or stand out.