If your home is older or you have old, outdated windows, homeowners understand the benefits of installing new replacement windows. They're more energy efficient, saving you money on your utility bills as well as less wear-and-tear on your HVAC system. But when looking to improve the energy efficiency and overall look that new windows bring, basement windows are often overlooked.
Most builder-grade basement windows aren't pretty to look at. They're typically metal framed with a single pane of glass. Since metal conducts heat and single paned windows have no thermal barrier, these basement windows are anything but energy efficient. As the cold winter air enters your basement, it can affect the temperature of the rooms on the first floor of your home. If your basement windows are wood, you probably have even more problems. Being so close to the ground and experiencing more pounding from rain and environmental factors, they'll usually have wood rot and peeling paint.
These original basement windows can allow air leakage at a much higher rate than the windows in the upper levels of your home. Gaps around the window pane as well as gaps where the window is installed within your foundation all allow air to enter your home. And single pane windows allow heat loss through the glass itself.
There are a number of options available when replacing your basement windows. Hopper windows are very common in basements. A hopper window is hinged at the bottom and tilts into the room when opened. This style is beneficial for ventilation in your basement, but could allow in rainwater during a heavy storm if there's not a sufficient roof overhang above the window. An awning window is similar to a hopper window, but it's hinged at the top and opens outward. If you don't have a need for the basement window to open, you can select a picture window, which is just glass within the frame that doesn't open or close. All of these options are available with double pane glass. There is a gas fill between the two panes, creating a thermal barrier that makes them great insulators.
If you have more room, as is often the case if your home is on a sloped lot where you have more of the basement wall exposed above ground, you can install a double hung window. The larger window surface area allows more natural light to enter your basement compared to typical hopper or awning windows.
Whatever style window you choose for your basement, selecting vinyl replacement windows makes the most sense. Since the windows are often close to - or right at - ground level, maintenance-free vinyl windows stand up to the elements much better than wood or metal windows. There are no issues with wood rot and they never need to be painted.