Window Replacement – Efficiency Ratings, Types And Features

The US windows & home windows industry is worth more than $12 billion, according to figures from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The industry is currently experiencing a drop due to low levels of investments in the residential property segment. The low levels in residential property investment have been brought about by the leveling home prices as well as the soaring cost of energy and interest rates. The above trends have dealt severe blows to the builders market than any other segment of the building and construction segment. Major players in the window manufacturing industry are well aware of these trends and have embarked on the following strategies in order to counter the effects of the above trends:

• Increased window replacement market emphasis as well as expanded efforts to meet the ever-growing demand presented by the nonresidential sector.

• Increased focus on the addition of impact-resistant and energy-efficient window products.

• Increased focus on potential foreign markets.

In recent years, manufacturers of new windows have come up with products that are highly energy efficient which have resulted in more attractive, quiet and comfortable homes. In determining the efficiency ratings of replacement windows, the following factors are considered:

• U-factor.
• Durability.
• Wind resistance.
• Rain resistance.
• Replacement ease.

According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), old and drafty windows are responsible for 10 to 25 percent of your total annual heating and cooling costs. New windows can cost anything from $7,000 to $20,000 according to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). Anyone looking to buy custom window replacements should be prepared to fork out an extra 15 percent of the above cost.

Efficiency Ratings
The higher energy efficiency in new replacement windows is as a result of the use of top of the range insulating features such as inert-gas insulation, low e-coatings and multiple glazing. The U-factor mark indicates the ability of the window glass to conduct thermal energy or heat. The reverse of the U-factor is the R-value which indicates the insulating ability of the glass. Anyone looking to replace windows should look for a window that has a higher R-value rating and a lower U-factor rating otherwise they might as well be throwing money through your windows. Such a window is guaranteed to keep your house cool during summer and pretty warm during winter. The best replacement windows have an R-value of two or three, which is similar to that of a wall devoid of insulation. The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is another vital window energy rating. It indicates the exact amount of sunlight that makes it inside the house once the rays of the sun hit the window. High SGHC numbers are ideal for cold climates, SHGC of 0.40 or less is ideal for warm climates while temperate areas require a SGHC number of 0.55 or less. Visible Transmittance (VT) on the other hand indicates the amount of visible light that a window is able to let in. The higher it is the better.

The window replacement market is awash with windows that vary in terms of design and material. Wood accounts for more than 50 percent of the window frame market according to the AAMA while fiberglass and vinyl account for the rest. The following list is composed of the most common window types:

• Vinyl-frame windows- maintenance free and inexpensive.

• Fiberglass-frame and wooden-frame windows- excellent at locking out rain and cold air.

• Awning-style- deflects rain and generally offers better ventilation.

• Casement-style- easy to clean.

• Fixed windows- ideal for places that require lighting and little or no ventilation.

• Hopper-style windows- usually placed at the top of the glass door or another window.

Single-glazed windows have virtually disappeared due to their inability to provide adequate insulation during summers and winters. Some of the most popular window features during windows installation include double or triple glazing, low-E coating which reflects heat back into your home during winter and keeps out the sun’s heat during winter, gas filled window panes that make use of krypton, argon and other types of inert gases for insulation purposes and cladding.

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