Replacement Windows – Are They A Smart Home Improvement?
In times of rising costs for home heating and cooling and the need to reduce energy consumption, replacement windows are a very smart home improvement investment. Not only will replacement windows make your home more energy efficient, they will reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 50%.
This energy efficiency will also reduce the amount of energy you use and reduce your demand for petroleum products (electricity, natural gas, heating oil, etc.). The investment in replacement windows will also increase the value of your home.Heat is transferred through solid surfaces from the warmer side to the colder side through a process called “conduction”. Metal is a good conductors of heat. This means that your windows themselves could be causing your heating and cooling bills to be higher than the cost would be with new insulated windows.
In addition, any cracks or gaps around your windows and window frames allow heated or cooled air to escape from the house to the outside and vice versa. Sealing around windows and doors and installing adequate insulation around them is the first step in improving the energy efficiency of your home. New windows, however, will probably result in a far greater savings.
Whether you want to replace your cold, drafty windows or simply want to enhance the overall appearance of your home, you will have to go in for replacement windows even though choosing the right replacement windows is a burdensome task and involves a significant investment. Replacement windows squeeze in air between two panes of glass, providing a layer between the inside of your home and the weather outside. Thus, replacement windows insulate your home from extremes of both hot and cold. And at the same time reduce your home’s energy costs and change its decor. Replacement windows come in many shapes, sizes, and styles to match your home. Basically, there are four types of replacement windows: (i) replacement windows add light and style to your home; (ii) skylights brighten the room and add an interesting design element; (iii) sliding doors are another form of replacement windows; and (iv) the slider helps you save on energy, especially in summer, because you can leave the screened portion open. Before you buy replacement windows, you need to decide how you want them to open. Again you have various choices, such as: (a) casement windows with vertical hinges that swing in or out by winding a handle; (b) double or single hung types made of two cases that slide up and down; (c) sliding windows that move horizontally; and (d) plain fixed form windows that don’t open at all, but let the light come in. You also need to see how your replacement windows have been fabricated to make sure they match with the architecture of your home and provide maximum insulation. You can now choose from some recent manufacturing developments like vinyl and fiberglass that are highly insulating. Vinyl windows are a popular and economical alternative to aluminum, wood, and fiberglass, because they are energy efficient, easy to install, and effortless to maintain. Made from a plastic called polyvinyl chloride, or PVC they provide a superb degree of insulation. Moreover, they require practically no maintenance because their durable surfaces are already stained, finished, and sealed. The exterior casing of vinyl windows doesn't fade or wear under ultraviolet sunlight, making them far more durable than aluminum or wood. For the purpose of energy efficiency, you can go in for triple-pane windows that have three pieces of glass with layers of air between them. Air absorbs heat and cold much better than glass. You can further reduce air conditioning and heating costs if you replace the air with a gas called argon. While shopping for replacement windows, visit many showrooms and make sure that the window is 'user friendly'. Try it out to see if it opens and closes with ease. You must remove all your doubts before scheduling an installation. Also, look for certification information from the National Fenestration Rating Council to compare the energy efficiency of each brand and style of window. Don’t forget to see the actual warranty before making your purchase and understand all the details. Replacement windows involve heavy expenditure, so it is important you make an informed and confident decision based on the needs of your house, the kind of windows to be replaced, and your budget constraints.
Replacement Windows Add Value to Your Home
It's true that replacement windows save money in energy costs. It's true that the proper replacement windows, installed properly can add value to your home. It's true that the cost to replace windows today is by comparison, cheaper then it has ever been. These are all truths about window replacement that have a provable factual basis. What is also true is that 70% of homes 10 years old or more can benefit from the installation of replacement windows. Of course, the older the home the greater the benefit will likely be, words of wisdom that you've probably heard before as well.Over time window sealing effectiveness deteriorates and energy is lost through the leaks around windows. Of course that information isn't new either. So to save energy or add value, home owners often replace windows and doors without considering some of the negative aspects of having a tightly sealed home.Actually negative might be the wrong word to use. I hesitate at using the word negative, because it might sound as if I were advocating against replacement windows, which is not the case at all. Rather I think it is important to be aware of changes that replacing windows might bring about in the home. Two things come to mind that may need to be addressed along with windows and door replacement. These things can cause some potentially serious problems.The first that comes to mind is the changes in indoor air pressure. If you have electric heat or a newer (within the last 5 years or so) thermo efficient gas or propane heating system, air pressure may not be a concern. Still you may want to think about the information presented and apply it to investigating your own home situation.Why would we be concerned about air pressure in the home? Many homes over the last ten to twenty years, in many parts of the country have opted for such things as under floor and baseboard hot water heating, systems that utilize a boiler to heat water and circulate it throughout the home for heating purposes. When these systems were originally being installed, little thought was given to where the oxygen would be coming from that would complete the combustion process that the boilers need to heat the water.The reason that these cold spots develop in a negative air pressure situation, after windows and doors are replace is because your heating system that in the past had multiple places to draw air from, now only has a very few, and to maintain the combustion process, it must draw a greater volume of air from the few remaining sources making them more noticeable.So we fix one problem and end up with another. But the solution is rather simple. Just replace the heating system. Simple right? Ok, so that isn't funny, but there is a lesson to be learned, which new heating systems have taken into account.New heating systems generally take into account that homes are more tightly sealed then ever before, and in knowing this they have provided the heating system with its own outside air source. Usually a two or three inch PVC pipe through an outside wall, one that is as close as possible to the unit's location. In doing so, the need to draw air through the rest of the house is effectively eliminated, while supplying all the oxygen needed for healthy and energy efficient combustion at the heating unit.The reason that the outside air source needs to be as close as possible has to do with the path of least resistance law of flow. Air just like water will take the path of least resistance when flowing. If the provided outside air source is too far away, and the system can draw oxygen from a closer source easier, it will do so.In part two of this article I will discus another major concern that may need to be dealt with when replacing the windows in your home