Basics of Choosing Windows

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated January 7, 2022)

Having the right windows for your home can actually make all the difference between a low energy bill, and one that will break the bank. By understanding the basics of choosing windows, you will be able to make certain that you not only know what you are getting, but make certain that you get the best windows for your home. Before you get your new windows for your home, take some time going through these guidelines to make sure that you know what you are doing, and what you are looking for.

  • Frame materials. The only time that a window will not come already in a frame is if you purchase the glass as a pane. That being said, you will need to understand how the different types of frame materials will affect the life of the windows. For example, vinyl frames are virtually maintenance free and act as a decent insulator, while aluminum frames will last a long time but are rather ineffective at insulating. Wood frames of all kinds require regular maintenance, but do a decent job at insulating.
  • Gas sealed windows. Unlike traditional, single paned windows, gas sealed double-paned windows are extremely effective as insulators. This effectiveness comes with a cost though, gas sealed double-paned windows are usually significantly more expensive than single paned windows. The most effective type of gas used is Krypton, but that dramatically increases the cost of the windows.
  • Low-E coating helps insulation. Another method for dramatically reducing the amount of heat transfer that a window can experience is by having a window with a layer of low-E coating. This is actually a very thin coating of metal which ends up reflecting some of the light and solar heat. Manufacturers currently produce this coating in three different levels which allow a low, medium, or high amount of solar gain.
  • Double paned is better than single. Even with no extra frills, a double-paned window will provide much more insulation than you would ever receive from a single paned window. Basically, even with no extra gas sealing, or low-E coating a double paned window is about 1/3 more effective at insulating your home than a single paned window. This is because these windows have a little extra space between the panes which allow the air to heat up and act as a buffer zone between the outside and inside temperatures.
  • Understand Energy Star lingo. Take some time to learn a little bit about the phrases and words that are used by the Energy Star program to rate windows. For example, U-factor is how heat loss is rated (so the lower the U-factor, the better it insulates); VT stands for visible transmission which references the amount of light that is allowed through the glass (the higher the number, the more light can get through); or the acronym SHGC which stands for solar heat gain coefficient. The last is a scale from 0 to 1 which rates the amount of solar heat that the window will transmit, the lower the number the less heat gets transferred.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

MORE FROM LEE

Cheesy Potato Casserole

If you are looking for a really tasty and easy to make side dish that can go with just about any main dish, then you ...

Discover More

Growing Tomatoes Out of Season

Growing tomatoes out of season isn't all that difficult if you take the proper steps. Surprisingly, all you really need ...

Discover More

Home Dog Grooming

While it is nice to take your dog out to the groomer's every so often, it can also be fairly expensive. Instead, why not ...

Discover More

Find the Right Tool Right Away Finally, a homeowner's set that includes all the tools needed to complete basic DIY projects at an affordable price! The tools are stored in a molded case for security and portability. Check out Stanley 65-Piece Homeowner's Tool Kit today!

More Home Improvement Tips

How to Cut Glass

Whether you are looking to do some repair glazing work, or you are looking to create a unique window you will eventually ...

Discover More

Opening a Stuck Window

Is there really anything more frustrating around the home than to have a window that you just cannot get open? Well ...

Discover More

Replacing a Torn Window Screen

Replacing a torn window screen is a remarkably easy project, and one that anyone can accomplish. Don't let ugly torn, or ...

Discover More
Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 - 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)