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Window Replacement 101: A Basic Guide for Installing New Windows in Your Home

Window Replacement 101: A Basic Guide for Installing New Windows in Your Home

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December 15, 2008

A window installation is one of those projects that most people thought they would never have to face. However, if you're reading this article, chances are that you've given it some thought. Good for you! Be careful, though… replacing your windows is probably a little more complex than most people suppose and it's absolutely essential to become educated about the advantages and disadvantages of replacement windows, as well as all the different models and materials out there.

Benefits of a Window Replacement Project

Of course, a discussion like this begs the question - why replace your current windows at all?

There are actually a number of good reasons. First of all, replacing your old windows, like most home improvement projects, will raise the resale value of your home considerably. This is especially true if your old windows are cracked or dingy - you might be surprised at just how much new windows can improve the overall look of your home!

Furthermore, if your home is more than a few decades old, it's very likely that modern replacement windows would offer some considerable advantages in regards to energy efficiency. Even something as simple as having windows with double-pane insulation can save you a substantial sum of money on your heating and cooling costs!

Your Options Are Wide Open!

There are dozens of good reasons to embark on a window replacement project, but no matter what your motivation is, you're still going to have to give some thought to what type of replacement window to go with. If you've never dealt with window installation before, you might be in for a shock when you find out that there's more than one kind of window out there, and believe us - the choices can quickly become overwhelming.

When all is said and done, each type of window you can buy has its own advantages and disadvantages. The only real way to decide which one is right for you is to become educated about what's available and then decide if it's suitable for your home and your individual lifestyle.

According to Consumer Reports, wood and fiberglass windows are among the most popular of all options. However, they are also the most expensive. Of course, with most projects, you get what you pay for, and window installation is no exception. Wood and fiberglass windows tend to have the least flexibility under adverse weather conditions, and as a result, they leak the least, and tend to be the most energy efficient of all models.

Vinyl windows are another popular choice. They make up a large section of the window replacement market simply because they provide a much less expensive alternative to wood or fiberglass. However, they also tend to have a bit of flexibility and aren't the best at keeping out cold air. If you live in a northern climate with cold winters, this is definitely something you'll want to keep in mind.

Energy - An Important Consideration

Speaking of the cold, one of the primary reasons for replacing windows is improving your energy efficiency. Be careful, though - not all windows are created equally. When you buy a new window, look for something called the Energy Star rating. Generally speaking, the better the Energy Star rating, the better the window will perform in regards to efficiency and the more it will save you on energy costs.

For windows, the Energy Star rating is broken down into five distinct categories. First, there's the U-Factor, which measures the rate of heat transfer; the lower the better. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient lets you know how much solar heat is kept out of your home, and once again, the lower the number, the better the performance. There's also the Visible Transmittance rating (how much light comes in), Air Leakage rating (the amount of air that passes through microscopic cracks in the glass), and Condensation Resistance rating (how well the window repels water and resists leaking).

By keeping all of these factors in mind, you'll be better educated when you set out to replace the windows in your home. A  home window installation is one of the most rewarding home improvement projects you can take on, and we believe that no matter what model or material you decide to go with, your home is going to be better off for it!

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