Single-pane windows lose as much as 20 times more heat than the section of the wall they replace.
In fact, the heat they lose (and gain) accounts for as much as 30% of the energy you use for heating and cooling your home.
The waste is even worse if your windows are past their prime, which could be anywhere from one to three decades.
You can avoid such huge wastes by replacing your windows as necessary. That means swapping them out if they’re already very old or damaged.
However, you also need to know what to look for in replacement windows.
After all, windows come in many different forms, with each having their own pros and cons.
Some are better in keeping the heat in, while others are more effective in keeping you cool during summer.
Ready to learn how to choose windows to replace your old ones with? Then let’s dive right into it!
Make Sure That You Do Need Replacement Windows
New windows for homes could either be “new construction” windows or replacement windows.
They are both new, but replacement windows go into existing window frames. You just have to “insert” and affix the replacement windows into the frames.
Whereas installing new construction windows requires access to the internal wall studs.
These windows have a nail fin that you need to attach to the studs.
This is what makes new construction windows a more permanent structure of a home.
The nail fin will then serve as the “connector” for the studs and future replacement windows.
Since the nail fins are inside the walls, they get less exposure to elements.
That makes them last longer than the exposed parts of the window.
As such, most “new windows” for existing homes are for the external (or visible) part of the windows.
These are the replacement or retrofit windows.
If there’s no extensive damage to the studs or frame, then these are the windows you should get.
If the damage has spread to these parts though, you may already need new construction windows.
The same goes if you’re replacing or knocking down a wall that’s right beside your windows.
You also need new construction windows if you’re replacing the siding.
It’s important to know which of these two you need as new construction windows can cost up to $5,400 on average.
Replacement windows, on the other hand, cost only between $200 and $750 per unit.
What to Look for in Replacement Windows: The Energy Star Label
Once you’re sure that you only need replacement windows, opt for those with the Energy Star label.
These are the best replacement windows for improved energy efficiency.
These government-certified windows reduce household energy bills by 12% on average.
Low U-Value and SHGC Ratings
Granted, Energy Star makes it easier to figure out which windows are energy efficient.
However, these products still vary when it comes to heat loss and gain resistance.
As such, it’s vital to also understand window ratings and values, so you can choose the right one for your climate.
The two most important terms to know are the “U-value” and “solar heat gain coefficient” (SHGC).
U-value is the measurement of a window’s ability to resist heat loss.
SHGC is the measurement of how much heat the glass allows to enter a home.
That said, the lower the values for both, the better performance you can expect from a window.
Single vs Double vs Triple Glazing
As of 2017, 48.5 million homes in the US still used single-pane windows.
However, there were also 68.5 million homes with double-pane windows.
Only 1.2 million residential properties had triple-pane windows.
So, what does this “pane” mean anyway and how does it affect your home?
The term pane refers to the sheet of glass itself that a window unit consists of.
Thus, in a single-pane unit, there’s only one pane of glass.
Whereas double-pane windows have two layers of insulating glass or “double glazing“.
Triple-pane windows have triple glazing or three layers of insulating glass.
The areas between these panes are then either filled with vacuum or gas.
This kind of construction helps reduce the transfer of heat across the window.
So, the more layers or glazing a window has, the more energy-efficient the unit is.
That’s why triple-paned or triple glazing windows are the most energy-efficient.
Frame Materials That Can Withstand Your Climate
Be sure to also consider your climate when choosing windows.
For instance, wood is a top choice for window frames, thanks to its great insulative value.
However, it also has a strong potential for rot, making them less ideal for homes in humid or rainy areas.
In this case, you may want to consider vinyl, a type of plastic, which is less prone to rot and decay.
Properly-constructed, vinyl windows offer excellent energy efficiency and reduced air leakage.
The drawback is that you may not like their plastic-like appearance.
Aluminum windows can withstand humid, rainy, and coastal climates.
They’re durable, long-lasting, and require less maintenance than wood windows.
However, they’re not the best in heat transfer and loss resistance.
Fiberglass windows cost more than many other window types, but for many good reasons.
They have low thermal conductivity, making them exceptionally energy efficient.
They are also the sturdiest and most durable of all windows.
You can repaint them several times, and unlike plastic or wood, they don’t twist, warp, or rot.
Choose the Best Replacement Windows for Your Home (and Budget)
There you have it, your complete guide on what to look for in replacement windows.
The first and most important, at least for energy efficiency, is the Energy Star label.
This alone means that the window has passed rigorous testing from window experts.
Then, you can consider the rest, such as its compatibility with your climate and of course, your budget.
Ready for more project ideas that will help boost your home’s comfort and value?
Then be sure to head over to the DIY section for more cost-effective how-to guides!