At The Window Source, we believe that informed customers are happy customers!
As you shop for replacement windows, you’ll probably notice that there is a wealth of places to buy windows. Many of these companies are good companies, but some of them are more interested in making a buck off your confusion than in explaining to you what really matters in a window. We believe that selling you a window involves informing you of your options and of the important factors you need to consider. A good deal is a fair deal, so we’ve put together some tips to help you compare your options and avoid overpaying.
1. A more expensive window isn’t necessarily a better window.
A lower price doesn’t necessarily mean that a window is inferior. Many window companies out there will charge hundreds of dollars more for windows that are virtually the same as our windows. Most major windows are manufactured in the same factories, using the same materials and technology, and they are upheld to the same standards. Some of our competitors sell the exact same windows we sell, but they charge hundreds of dollars more. Just like a candy bar at a convenience store will cost twice as much as the same candy bar at a grocery store, the price of the same window could be much higher than it needs to be depending on where you buy it from.
2. The NFRC label is the best way to compare the energy-saving value of a window.
If price isn’t a good indicator, how do you tell if one window is superior to another? Use the NFRC label. If you look at nothing else while comparing windows, pay attention to this label. All major window manufacturers have their windows evaluated by the non-biased National Fenestration Rating Council, which issues an energy performance rating for each window. The energy performance rating is printed on an NFRC label, and it includes four rating numbers: The U-Factor, the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, The Visible Transmittance, and the Air Leakage.
The U-Factor is the insulation value, and it represents how much heat loss occurs through the window. A lower U-Factor means a better insulation and a more energy-efficient (and therefore better) window. Some companies will charge more for windows even if they aren’t more efficient than competing windows. To know for sure how much insulation value you’re getting and to fairly compare windows of different U-values and prices, use this simple equation:
Price of window ÷ U-Factor = Insulation value ratio.
If you rely on the NFRC label, you can see through the hype and the sales pitches and you won’t have to depend on a salesman working on commission or a company trying to make their windows look good. You won’t have to “just trust us” that this window is better than that one—you’ll be able to tell for yourself.
3. The material of the window frame plays a big part in the performance of the window.
Window frames come in several different materials—vinyl, wood, aluminum, and other metals—and these different materials can have a major effect on the performance of the window.
Vinyl is a common material used in manufacturing window frames today, and for good reason. Synthetic vinyl is a non-porous material, so air and water can’t seep through. It doesn’t expand or contract with changes in temperature like wood does, and it conducts heat much less than metals do. It maintains its shape and rigidity very well once adhered to the glass. It’s also very easy to mold, which makes it easier to add advanced chambering and grooves, both of which help with insulation and prevent unwanted airflow. You can also layer wood grain veneers over a vinyl window frame or install them behind your existing wood trim so you can have the look you want without sacrificing energy savings. The Window Source 9000 series offers a variety of wood grain finishes that can be applied to the vinyl frame.
Wooden window frames are beautiful and insulate better than metal frames do, but they have their own weaknesses. When they are subjected to weather and moisture, they can expand and contract or even rot over time. You also cannot manipulate wood like you can vinyl, so you can’t add chambering or enhanced insulation.
Window frames made of aluminum or other metals are common in the construction of new homes because they are usually cheaper, but they perform much more poorly in energy savings. They have very poor insulation properties because metal conducts heat, resulting in fast heating and cooling and an increase in heat transfer. Metallic frames must also be welded or screwed together, and either option increases unwanted airflow.
4. You may not need triple pane windows after all.
You can buy single-pane, double-pane, or triple-pane windows, and multi-pane windows have much better insulation properties, preventing unwanted airflow and heat transfer. You might want the best window that you can get, which would seem like the triple-pane window. It’s important, however, to consider more than just what the best (and most expensive) window is. You also need to know the best window for you and the best window for the cost. The higher cost of a triple-pane window might not be worth the energy savings you’d get compared to a double-pane window. Energy Star published a chart of recommended U-Factor ratings for where you live to help you pick the window that makes the most sense for your region and helps maximize your savings.
5. A good window and proper installation are equally important.
A window’s insulation properties are important, but if it’s poorly installed, a lot of energy waste could still be going on. Poor seals around the frame could result in more energy loss than any other part of the window. Ask your window provider about how experienced your installer is, and make sure they use low-expansion spray foam to close off any gaps between the frame and your home. If you’re worried that poor installation could be costing you money, contact us and we can send one of our technicians out to check the installation quality and test for leaks.