Windows: Quality Can Be Inexpensive


If you are walking down the street looking at homes probably the first - or tied for first - feature that you will notice about any home is the windows. Features about the windows that may pop out at you are the shapes, styles, numbers and placement. As one designer aptly put it, “If the eyes are the windows to the soul then windows are the eyes of the home.”

Good windows are not cheap but replacing old ones with new, stylish models have almost as much affect on a prospective buyer as a new kitchen or bathroom. While it is not the ultimate feature in the eyes of someone looking for a home, a window remodel will definitely help make the sale. This is especially true if the windows are the new and are the energy-efficient type. There are a few things to look for when buying windows, items that could save you money:

Window Types

The type of window is a large factor in why the homeowner buys it. For example, many like the traditional double-hung where the bottom sash pushes up for ventilation. Then there is the casement window where the sash is hinged on one side and swings out. The style is, in large fact, a determining factor in the price so if you want a simple but clean-looking window grab the double-hung. The slider window is an old-style and does not spruce up the appearance of the home. In addition, window companies and discount places have “left-overs” from commercial orders and part with them at great prices. So if you have an open mind for style check this out.

Window Placement

Another question to ask yourself is: “Where are they going?” This is because size and placement have an important effect on sunlight and ventilation. Smaller windows placed in the south, for example, will provide passive solar heating in the winter but will not catch the hot summer sun. Another consideration of window placement is the view. Windows are intended for the homeowner to look out on something and the “view site” should have the biggest windows.

Window Material

Wood: Window panes are glass but from what materials are the sashes and frame made? Traditionally window frames have been made from wood because they offer a good thermal break and look good. However, condensation can cause them to swell and even grow mold on the bottom edges that can make them rot if not properly protected.

Clad Wood: Painted-aluminum and vinyl-clad windows resist the elements and prevent rot. They also look great and can cost less than pure vinyl.

Vinyl Windows: The nice thing about vinyl is that they are great thermal breaks and resist condensation. They are also easy to install and, since many of the manufacturers are now making vinyl frames, they are relatively inexpensive.

Aluminum: Aluminum is the most expensive of the lot and there is no advantage for the bargain shopper. However, the powder-coated aluminum looks great.

High-Efficiency Windows

High-efficiency in the Canadian climate means that the windows will shield against warm air escaping outside through the glass and raising the heating costs. The old single-pane windows did nothing to prevent this and even putting on storm windows just slowed this process down. The new double-glazed windows are the standard but still are not that efficient, having an r-value just around as compared to r-12-18 for the wall.

Triple Pane Systems: Three panes of glass make the window heavier, especially when the area is large. These three panes block out more transfer of cold than two panes which means you will save more on fuel. This is also dependent on a proper thermal break between the panes that will not transfer heat loss in this manner.

Argon and Krypton Gas: Any space where there is cold on one side and warmth on the other creates convection currents. This how weather patterns evolve. The space between glass panes offers a microcosm of a weather system and this convection process speeds up the transfer of hot to cold. However, if these spaces are filled with a heavy, inert gas like argon this process is slowed. Krypton slows it more but it is frightfully expensive.

Low Emissive Coating (Low-e): Low-E glass coating is a great energy feature for a window and works in 2 ways: First, it lets sun's short-wave energy (visible light and heat energy) in the home that helps heat the home in winter. Second, the coating traps the heat inside the home and reduces the amount traveling to the colder exterior pane.

In summer, the low-e coating reduces radiant heat gain by reflecting the long-wave radiation back outside.


The high-efficiency models used to be around 12-15% higher than the normal ones but changes in the government energy policies - and homeowners' preferences - have encouraged manufacturers to switch over their product lines to include only the better windows. Now, this price difference is very minimal and you can get deals on triple-pane, low-e argon windows and other energy-efficient models.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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