What to Look For When Choosing a Window

Last week we touched on four factors to know about when choosing new windows for your home – either as replacements or for your custom home.  These four factors are: Glass, Design, Frame, and Installation.  Let’s take a closer look at what to know about these four essential parts of a window.

Glass

When it comes to window glass, there are a lot of buzzwords that get tossed around, what is really necessary for a good window that is going to last and be worth the money that you put into it without breaking the bank?  Double-pane windows with a vacuum-sealed argon fill and low-E glass.  It will probably cost you an additional $30-50 per window but you will see a difference reflected in your energy bill.  We have talked in depth about the differences in single, double, and triple pane glass in previous posts.

When looking at windows, you can usually find a sticker directly on the glass that will tell you exactly what the window’s efficiency features are.  If the window has an Energy Star sticker on it then it means that it has met the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)’s standards.  These standards are measured in two ways: Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – measuring the amount of heat entering a house through the glass, and U-Value – measuring a window’s ability to resist heat loss.  For each of these factors, the lower the number, the better energy rating it will receive.

South Texas home owners often choose UV-repellent film as a tint for their windows, it’s practically invisible but it will preserve textiles and paint as well as keeping the interior of a house cooler and save money on utility bills.

Design

The design of a window can have huge effects when it comes to energy efficiency, but that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for something utilitarian or boring.  In the past, custom home builders focused on aesthetics rather than function, but now the modern approach is functionality and beauty in one.  A window can be both décor and an inlet for fresh air, this is especially applicable for transoms (the window above a door or another window).

Decorative windows that are also functional require a deeper casing which can contribute a lot to the aesthetics of your house as “active” transoms.  If you’re looking for further benefits to be reflected in your utility bill, don’t choose a semi-circle or half-moon window as these are not as energy efficient.

Come back next week as we explore the last two of our four important window factors: Frame and Installation.

Casement Windows, Double Hung, R-Value, & U-Factor

As we mentioned in last week’s post about single, double, and triple pane windows, we’re going to spend the next few weeks focusing on explaining the jargon around windows.  By knowing how to talk about windows, you’ll better understand not only how to communicate with your Texas custom home builder, but also what you want for your dream home.  Your window choice does not just affect the ascetics of your home, but also the functionality.

Casement Windows

A casement window is a window that has one or more hinges which attach the window to the window frame.  These can be a single pane or a pair of panes within a single frame.  There are a few particular names that can be used depending on where the hinges are located: hopper windows are windows that are hinged at the bottom, while awning windows are ones that are hinged at the top.

Single & Double Hung Windows

The major difference between double and single hung windows is that for single hung windows, the top sash is fixed and will not move, while both of the sashes on double hung windows will move up and down and may also tilt in.  Because of this, many people choose single hung windows for the lower story and double hung windows for upper levels as they are easier to clean from the inside.

UV ratings or the U-Factor

UV ratings or U-factor is the measurement of how well something performs when preventing heat from escaping a structure.  The higher the U-factor, the worse a product is performing, the lower it is, the better it is performing.  The typical window U-factor will fall between 0.15 and 1.20.

R-value

When talking about insulation, the R-Value is often the most discussed.  The R-Value simply measures the resistance to heat flow, therefore, a higher R-Value means a greater reduction in energy consumption.

Difference between R-value and U-factor

The difference between R-value and U-factor is that while the R-value is to measure heat loss resistance, the U-factor is used to measure the heat transference rate (heat loss).