Window Shopping? Check Out These Tips for Choosing New Windows

Whether you’re building a home, planning a remodel or it’s time to replace your windows, the idea of choosing new windows can be daunting. At the same time, choosing new windows provides you opportunities to improve the aesthetics and energy efficiency of your home. Follow these tips to help get you started.

Learn the Window Buying Process

Windows take a lot of abuse and must provide shelter against strong winds, heavy rains, winter storms and sometimes extreme weather events like hurricanes. Due to these needs, window purchases are a big aesthetic and financial commitment, which means it’s a costly mistake to order and install the wrong type.

Realize first that buying windows isn’t a single decision but a process. The first step is to determine your needs, design, budget, and desired window functions.

But try not to get bogged down in the details. Remember that a window only has a few functions: provide light and a connection to the outside, control temperature, airflow and ventilation, and look nice. Keep it simple.

A single guide to choosing new windows isn’t going to contain all the data you need in order to make good decisions, so it’s important to make time to do your homework. In addition, to examine window types, materials, and performance considerations, as well as looking at window samples, you’ll want to carefully examine the reputations of manufacturers and the coverage provided by their warranties.

Finally, after ordering your windows, you’ll need to find a good window installation contractor. Here, your best bet is to choose the windows you want first and then seek out a contractor who is specially trained by the windows’ manufacturer. Alternatively, you can always contact your local home builders’ association or networks like Angie’s List to get recommendations from local neighbors for quality window contractors.

No Pane, No Gain

One of the most important decisions to make is window glass, which has a lot of options. Single-pane glass has long been outdated except for extremely mild climates like California. The most traditional choice these days is double-pane windows, which have a sealed air space between panes to reduce heat loss.

For extremely cold climates, homeowners might consider “low-E” or low emissivity double or triple-pane windows, which contain an inert gas for added insulation. Multi-pane windows also provide a better level of sound insulation, a comfort for those in urban areas or facing busy streets.

RU Energy-Efficient?

Surprise, manufacturers use alphabetic values to indicate the energy efficiency of building materials. Higher R-values mean better insulating properties and come on a scale from 1 to 7.

Meanwhile, a window’s U-factor measures the rate at which a window conducts non-solar heat flow. The lower the U-factor, the more efficient the window.

Make Well-Informed Choices

One of the easiest ways to choose windows is to use the wide variety of online tools to narrow down your window choices. Regardless of whether you make decisions digitally or manually, you will be making decisions on these factors:

  • Do you have a 1-story or a 2-story home?
  • Which direction is your home oriented — north, west, east or south?
  • Are your desired windows small, medium or large?
  • What is the shading situation like on your windows?
  • Which windows match your geographical climate?

Home windows are available in thousands of different configurations and combinations. By making good decisions as you work through the buying and installation process, you can make a significant impact on the performance of your windows, and by extension your entire home in terms of aesthetics, energy efficiency, acoustics, and weather resistance.