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How Do I Choose the Best Windows?

How do I choose the best windows?

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the correct windows. After all, you do spend a lot of your life using them. Below are some tips that can be applied as a good starting point when choosing a good, high quality window.

In today’s world aesthetics AND energy efficiency are major considerations, but it shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when buying windows and doors. You should think about low solar heat gain, high solar heat gain, air infiltration, U-values, R-Values and functionality.

Why is Choosing the Correct Window Important?

Ventilation – Windows and doors provide us with ventilation and fresh air. We ventilate when we want to feel a cool breeze on a hot day, or when we have accidentally burned the salmon in the kitchen.

Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) – Clarity in our windows and doors is called visible light transmittance – the amount of visible light that transfers through your window. A window with low visible light transmittance will prevent visible light from coming through your window.

R-Value – A measure of thermal resistance used in the building and construction industry. The window’s capacity to resist heat flow from one side to the other. A window that does not provide a high R-value can contribute to higher heating and cooling bills by making your heater work harder in the winter or your air conditioner work harder in the summer.

U-Value– A measure of heat loss in a building material. It is also called overall heat transfer coefficient and measures how well parts of a building transfer heat. A window that does not provide a low U-value can contribute to higher heating and cooling bills by making your heater work harder in the winter or you air conditioner work harder in the summer.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)– A window with high solar heat gain coefficient will allow you to take in more of the suns’ free heat in the summer (which makes building orientation an important factor, which we will cover in another blog post). Conversely, a window with low solar heat gain coefficient can help keep your window from allowing more heat in the summer (again building orientation is key).

Design – Coming up with a window design that works for your project can be daunting.  To make it simple, consider two perspectives – your view from the interior and the exterior facade (The face of your building).  Finding a good balance between the view you’d like to see from the interior and how your windows appear from the exterior.  Thinking about it from both a couple of different angles can help you make the right choices.

What’s Inside this Window?

From building location to building orientation the type of window is really your choice. 2012 Building code (IECC and IRC) maximum U- Factor for vertical fenestration in low-rise residential construction ranges from .32 to .40 based on where you reside in the United States.
When looking inside windows you will find a variety of fillings, including argon, krypton, spacers, insulated frames, and multiple panes of glass.

What kind of Glass?

Low Emissivity (Low-E) Glass: Low E Glass refers to glass with a special microscopically thin, virtually invisible layer of material on the surface of the glass that acts to reduce the amount of heat that can flow through the glass itself.
Tempered or Safety Glass: This glass is designed to fracture into tiny harmless pieces and not shatter into jagged shards. Used in doors and areas where there is a higher chance of impact to the glass. This glass is much more durable than regular or annealed glass.

What kind of Frame?

Below you will find different frame explanations that will help you choose the best frame for your window.

1. Vinyl Windows

Vinyl Windows are made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) resin, a synthetic material commonly referred to as – Vinyl. The advantage is that the cost is less expensive. The disadvantages are longevity, color limitations and performance. Vinyl does not expand and contract at the same rate as the glass in the window, thus putting more pressure on the seals and causing more seal failures when the temperatures change.

2. Wood Windows

Wood windows are made from many species of trees. The advantages of wood is that it is a good insulator and has very low thermal conductivity. They also have good noise reduction qualities. The disadvantage of wood is the cost and time to refinish. Wooden windows require maintenance on the exterior in order to keep them functioning and operating in a satisfactory manner.

3. Aluminum Windows

Aluminum windows are made from an aluminum alloy in which Al is the predominant metal. The advantages of aluminum are that they are durable, cost effective and can be painted or powder coated almost any color, they also have good noise reduction qualities. Until recent years aluminum windows disadvantage was that they were good conductors of heat and cold making their performance poor. Modern aluminum windows from Glo now have thermal breaks installed to prevent heat or cold from transferring to the interior of the building. Making aluminum windows one of the best options on the market today.

4. Wood – Aluminum Clad windows

Wood Aluminum Clad windows – are made from many species of trees with the exterior cladding composed of aluminum. The advantages of wood aluminum clad is they have the advantages of wood without the exterior maintenance disadvantage. The disadvantage is price, typically wood aluminum clad windows cost more than the other options mentioned above.

Double Pane or Triple Pane?

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Double pane windows have 2 panes of glass with a chamber of gas in between. The chamber is typically filled with argon or krypton to reduce heat transfer across part of the building envelope. You will realize cost savings from an energy perspective over single pane windows.

Triple pane windows have 3 panes of glass with 2 chamber of gas in between. These chambers are typically filled with argon or krypton gas to reduce heat transfer across part of the building envelope. You will realize cost savings from an energy perspective over single or double pane windows, you will also feel more comfortable in your home due to the higher insulative value.

I live beside a busy street, now what?

Homes that are right next to busy freeways or street, are exposed to more exterior sound, or simply put, noise. When selecting the right window for your home, you will want to select a window that has sound damping qualities. A good double pane will reduce noise greatly, however a good triple pane will reduce the noise even further, allowing you to live in a nice quiet home.

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the appropriate window or door. The above information is a great starting point when choosing your windows and doors.[/div][/row]

Photo references:
  1. http://thedesignfiles.net/2014/11/amber-creswell-bell-and-andy-bell/
  2. http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2014/02/13/mjolk-dwelling/
  3. http://www.greyandscout.com/search?updated-max=2014-12-18T09:22:00-07:00&max-results=20&reverse-paginate=true
  4. http://blogg.skonahem.com/husligheter/2014/06/03/hemnet-home-sveagatan-2c/