10 Important Facts to Know About Windows
These 10 fast facts will help you understand the integral role windows play in your home’s efficiency and appearance.
Fact #1: Energy Efficiency
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 25 percent of the average home’s energy bills are due to inefficient windows and doors. Energy costs can be cut by as much as 15 percent just by purchasing windows that feature double-pane insulated glass, airtight frames, heat-resistant coatings, and/or Energy Star ratings.
Fact #2: Noise Cutting Ability
You can significantly reduce outside noise by installing windows with insulated or double-panes and ¼-inch to 1-inch of air (or argon gas) between the panes. Thicker glass and wider air spaces between panes increase the ability to reduce noise.
Fact #3: Window Life Expectancy
The majority of manufacturers agree that windows should last about 20 years before being replaced. Tell-tale signs that a window is failing include draftiness, not opening or shutting properly, or showing ice, frost and condensation.
Fact #4: Custom Grilles
Did you know that custom grilles can be added to your standard windows? The grilles will not significantly affect a window’s price and can be made based on a simple sketch or drawing. Various window makers offer different options, so simply ask your local retailer what can be done for you.
Fact #5: Window Materials
There are several window materials available today, all with their own set of pros and cons:
• Solid Wood: A great option for insulating against extreme temperatures, but is comparatively costly. Is affected by swelling and contracting and will require upkeep.
• Aluminum: Affordable, strong and low-maintenance. However, it is a conductor of heat and cold.
• Clad: Features a wood frame covered by a vinyl or aluminum shell, making it well insulated and low-maintenance, but also the most expensive type of door.
• Vinyl: Popular, low-maintenance and affordable, but susceptible to fading over time.
• Composites: Priced between wood and vinyl, makes a stronger and more durable choice than both. Color can be customized.
Fact #6: Low-Emissivity (Low-E) Glass
With a thin metallic coating that reflects heat, low-E glass helps keep heat inside the home during the winter and out of it during the summer. This special coating also blocks UV rays and reduces energy costs while permitting natural light to pass through.
Fact #7: Glass Treatments for Privacy
Rather than making your window treatments bear the brunt of adding privacy to a room, try using special glass treatments instead. For example, glass block, bubbled and frosted glass are all quite effective at limiting visibility — especially for ground-level bathrooms.
Fact #8: Window Coatings
There are a range of window coatings on the market to address different issues, from cutting glare and reducing energy costs, to blocking UV rays that cause fading in fabrics and flooring. One specialty coating actually cleans windows by breaking down organic compounds as they build up on the glass.
Fact #9: Window Types
Depending on use and placement, different types of windows may be required throughout your home:
• Casement: Due to their easy-open crank, casement windows make great awning, transom and picture windows. Use them over sinks and countertops where it would be hard to lean over and lift open a window.
• Single- and double-hung: The most common window type, this option features a classic style. They are easy to lift, clean and tilt, and will not protrude into neighboring spaces.
• Gliding: Makes a great choice for basements since it allows for lots of light and satisfies egress requirements. Also, like single- and double-hung windows, will not spoil usable space in adjacent areas.
• Fixed: A window that is used for mostly architectural purposes, it is great for allowing natural light and opening up scenic views.
Fact #10: Shatterproof Glass for Security
Built with a piece of plastic squeezed between two panes of glass, shatterproof glass provides an extra layer of protection against extreme weather conditions and break-ins. It is two to four times stronger than regular window glass. Some areas prone to hurricanes now actually require this type of window by code. Shatterproof glass also helps reduce noise and is comparable to low-E glass when it comes to efficiency.