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When should I buy new replacement windows?

Adding new replacement windows to your home can be valuable in many ways. For homeowners looking down the road toward eventually selling their homes, energy efficient windows can be a strong selling point for your realtor and can increase a home’s value. Additionally, there are benefits you’ll enjoy right away, like the savings on your home energy bills from increased window efficiency. And your comfort levels will also benefit, from reduced drafts and better overall comfort for everyone in your house. Today’s replacement windows perform better than their older counterparts and enhance the quality of life in the home. They are a great investment both financially and in less tangible ways.

Is vinyl my best choice for new replacement windows?

Vinyl is an excellent choice for replacement windows. It is strong enough to handle heavy glass without the sashes and frames being too thick, and it is extremely durable. Vinyl windows are also very low maintenance and easy to clean. Plus, they bring the extra benefit of being very affordable. But vinyl is not the only available material you might wish to consider. Think about reading up on aluminum, wood, and fiberglass replacement windows as well. Each type of frame has certain traits that make it suitable for specific applications. The right choice depends on your budget, the specifics of your project, and your personal preferences.

What is window condensation?

Condensation on a window can appear as water, frost, ice, or some combination. It will form on any surface, including windows, when the temperature of that surface is lower than its dew point. If the temperature of window glass is 45 degrees F and the dew point is 50 degrees F, condensation will form. The dew point of any surface is related to the humidity in the air, and to the air temperature in the room. As the room’s humidity increases, the dew point goes up as well. This means condensation on a window is more likely to appear. The higher the relative humidity in a room goes up, the more likely you are to see condensation on all objects including windows. Rooms with low humidity have a lower chance of seeing condensation.

What about drafts? Can new replacement windows stop them?

Drafts are caused by windows that are poorly sealed, inadequately insulated, or improperly installed. Even new replacement windows can be drafty if these areas are not addressed correctly. A quality contractor will address the insulation around the rough opening and properly insulate during installation. Good windows themselves are well insulated, and when closed and locked will effectively seal off outside air. Proper installation and the choice of window are both important, working hand in hand to effectively prevent drafts.
Window drafts can certainly be caused by the windows themselves simply being poorly built or no longer functioning properly. But even high end, energy efficient replacement window can be drafty if installation is not done with expert care. This is another reason why it is so important to locate a trustworthy, talented window contractor to do the replacement windows installation for you. Attention to detail is critical.

How are drafts different from convection?

Sometimes properly installed windows seem drafty for other reasons. Convection is a process that can make it seem as though your windows are drafty. Convection occurs when air gives up its heat to the cooler window glass and then sinks toward the floor. This process sucks warmer air toward the glass pane that is cooled upon reaching the window. The result is a drafty feeling. But the different densities of warmer and cooler air are actually causing this process, not some problem with the window’s performance. In a heated home, warm air circulates throughout, forcing some of the cold air around a window surface off of the glass. Convection is actually good news: it proves that new replacement windows are energy efficient, because that warm air is not escaping but merely “bouncing” off the window surface.

Is low e glass really worth the extra money?

Low e or low emissivity glass allows visible light to pass through a window but blocks infrared and UV light. UV light does damage to skin and furniture and causes colors to fade in carpets, couches, and other household items. And infrared light is the part of sunlight that makes objects heat up. Blocking that heat keeps surfaces in your home cool and comfortable. Low e glass protects the members of your household and the things you own from this unwanted exposure. It also helps you save on heating costs. The same principle keeping infrared light out of your home bounces your home’s heat back off of the window surfaces and keeps it from leaving the house. Low e glass is well worth investing in if you can afford it. Most of the heat loss in an average home comes through the windows.

What makes windows energy efficient?

Energy efficient windows have a number of traits in common with one another. They are manufactures using quality frame materials that insulate well and prevent heat transfer. They have multiple panes with air or gas in the middle to insulate better. The most energy efficient replacement windows are those with argon or krypton between panes, gases which insulate better than air. They have low e glass to reflect infrared light and keep heat in the house during the winter. And energy efficient replacement windows have warm edge spacers to keep panes the correct distance apart. These spacers also insulate pane edges and reduce heat transfer.