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Replacement Windows: Key Considerations

New Window Latch

If your windows are old, warped, contain wood rot, or are otherwise not energy efficient, it may be time to consider replacement windows.  While the project requires an upfront investment, it's a cost effective project since you will immediately begin to recoup your money in the form of lower energy bills.  You'll also reduce the wear-and-tear on your HVAC system, prolonging its life.  And you'll enjoy your home more when you're not dealing with leaky windows creating drafts or water leaks.

When shopping for new replacement windows, the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Saver program recommends replacing old, inefficient windows to improve your home's energy performance.  They offer these shopping tips when looking for new windows:

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
  • Check with local utilities to see what rebates or other incentives are available for window replacement.
  • Choose high-performance windows that have at least two panes of glass and a low-e coating.
  • Choose a low U-factor for better insulation in colder climates; the U-factor is the rate at which a window, door, or skylight conducts non-solar heat flow.
  • Have your windows installed by trained professionals according to manufacturer's instructions; otherwise, your warranty may be void.

When looking at replacement window choices, many options will affect their energy efficiency.  Consider the design of the window frame.  Depending on the way they're engineered and manufactured, they can reduce the ability to conduct heat, keeping your home more comfortable.  Glazing on the glass can help reduce solar heat gain, especially important in the summer months.  Low-e glass keeps the heat outside in the summer and inside in the winter.

The type of window you select can affect its overall energy efficiency.  Fixed windows, like picture windows, don't open and close and typically have the lowest air leakage rates.  Styles with lower air leakage rates also include awning windows, casement windows, and hopper windows.  While double hung windows and slider windows can have slightly higher leakage rates, choosing a reputable window manufacturer with a comprehensive warranty will assure you that your windows are energy efficient.