Windows affect not only the look and feel of your home, but also its energy efficiency. There are a few things to consider when choosing windows.
Windows have three major glazing options: single glaze, double glaze and triple glaze. Climate will influence your choice. For mild climates, a single-glaze window may provide all the energy efficiency you need at less cost.
For harsher climates, investing in double or triple glazing will bring added comfort, and the higher sticker price will be made up with lower heating costs. You can also choose how each glaze is tinted. Bronze- or gray-tinted glass reduces solar heat gain. It also reduces visible light, though, creating darker rooms.
Frames greatly influence window appearance and performance. Window frames can be made of one material or a combination of materials.
Aluminum is light, strong and durable, making it ideal for custom window design. Downside: It causes conductive heat loss, which decreases a window’s overall energy efficiency.
Wood framing is a great choice for a traditional look. And from a performance standpoint, wood aids energy efficiency. The big drawback is maintenance. Wood must be protected from moisture to prevent warping, cracking and rot.
Vinyl is a versatile plastic with good insulating value. Vinyl frames come in a wide range of shapes and styles. They don’t require painting and offer good moisture resistance.
Fiberglass frames offer the best energy efficiency. Fiberglass is a strong, durable material, making it ideal for large expanses of glass and virtually maintenance-free.
Decide how you want each window to look and perform. Some styles are designed to let in natural light, some to take advantage of views and some to let in cool summer breezes.
Casement windows consist of one sash hinged to a side jamb. They usually open outward from the sill by a crank handle or slider bar. They offer good ventilation and are known for their weather-tight construction.
Double-hung windows feature two sashes that slide along side jambs from top to bottom. They give a traditional appearance and are easy to clean.
Awning windows feature a sash that pivots at the top. A crank handle opens the bottom outward and up. They suit damp climates because they open without letting moisture in.
Palladian windows have three openings. The central one is usually arched and wider than the others. Picture windows are large and fixed. They’re great for views but not for ventilation.
Bay windows are a composite of three or four windows that project out from the house. They consist of a large (usually fixed) center unit and two flanking units (usually double-hung or casement) angled to the wall. Bay windows provide great straight-ahead and directional views.
Slide-by or slider windows work like double-hung windows, only turned sideways.
Transom windows are small, usually rectangular windows on top of a window or door hinged to a transom.