Windows are one of those elements in a home that can often go overlooked, and for good reason. Windows aren’t supposed to be overly flashy. No matter the types of replacement windows, they’re meant to provide a subtle, aesthetically pleasing look to a house, offering ample sunlight and a nice view.
But neglecting your home’s windows puts you at a disadvantage in a number of areas. This includes the obvious risks (like energy efficiency and temperature control) and the less apparent ones, like safety and security. In this blog, we’ll explore the best types of replacement windows, different window styles, and how to spot the telltale signs it’s time to replace your home’s windows.
When to Replace House Windows
Windows typically last around 20-25 years. Unlike some other elements of a home, replacing old windows really is a long-term investment that, if the home window replacement is done correctly, will last you decades.
If you’re wondering how to spot whether your home needs a window replacement, here are some of the telltale signs:
- Cracked window pane/soft frame. If your window frame is soft and brittle to the touch, it’s time you explore replacement window options. Soft frames indicate rot and water infiltration.
- Fogged glass. Condensation building up between the layers of glass means your seals have failed, allowing moisture to become trapped between the glass panes.
- Getting stuck. Not being able to open your windows is annoying and a safety hazard. Leaving your window open all night (especially if it’s a first-floor window) can allow unwanted intruders to enter and possibly, your pets to escape.
- Drafty rooms. If you feel a breeze even when your windows are closed, it’s likely because your window’s seals are failing, and possibly even due to poor installation if your windows aren’t that old.
- High energy bills. Faulty seals, cracked panes, and windows you can’t shut all cause your home’s HVAC system to work harder, costing you more money due to low efficiency.
Retrofitting or Window Replacement?
Home window replacement is an investment. And while it’s well worth it, how do you know whether you need a replacement or a retrofit?
A full replacement entails completely removing the existing window frame and sash. This will cost you more than retrofitting, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run if you opt for high-quality materials and proper installation.
When a Full Replacement Makes Sense
A full window replacement makes sense if you’re experiencing any or all of the following issues:
- Problems with the existing frame. Be on the lookout for symptoms like rot, which can spread mold to your home’s walls if not treated.
- High energy bills. Are you feeling the summer heat on your skin and in your wallet? Maybe you’re always cold? It’s time for a replacement.
- Style upgrade. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with your existing windows, but you feel it’s time to look for different types of replacement windows to upgrade the aesthetics of your home.
When Retrofitting Makes Sense
A retrofit makes sense when there are minor areas of aesthetics or energy efficiency that can be improved upon. Signs you only need a retrofit are:
- Frame and trim are in good condition. Also known as a sash-only replacement, a window retrofit can still deliver a drastic improvement in the areas of energy efficiency and style. A more economical option, this is also a great idea for homes with older wood frames that are still in good condition, allowing you to upgrade your windows while preserving the original charm.
- Glass only replacement. If you’ve had your windows for a decade or so, then you may be missing out on some of the advancements in window glass technology. With options like Low-E windows, finding a contractor that offers ENERGY STAR certified replacement windows can save you a lot in the long run.
Is It Worth Replacing Old Windows?
If you’re someone who isn’t all that interested in aesthetics and the style upgrade options of windows, then replacing old windows can feel like a grudge purchase. But the benefits of replacing old windows are an investment that, while sometimes overlooked by homeowners, can actually provide you with a big payoff in two important ways.
Energy efficiency is extremely important for a homeowner. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates savings between $126 to $465 a year by replacing single-pane windows in your house. But you don’t just save money, you also save your belongings, as windows with Low-e coating can help reduce sun damage to your carpets, furniture, and even photos by as much as 75%.
An estimated 30% of burglars enter through a window. First-floor windows are especially conducive to break-ins, and glass breakage has been found unlikely to catch the attention of a neighbor. If your window frames are weak and brittle, a burglar may not even need to break the glass, as they can simply force their way in. By replacing your home’s windows, you can give yourself peace of mind that you’re keeping your possessions and your family safe.
House Window Styles
With safety and energy efficiency being the most crucial components to look for when browsing different types of replacement windows, style is nonetheless important, and there are quite a few different house window styles available to the homeowner. These options include:
1. Single Hung Windows. This style consists of a bottom window panel or lower sash that moves up and down.
2. Double Hung Windows. Similar to a single hung window, this style allows both the upper and lower sash to move up and down, and sometimes even tilt out for easy maintenance.
3. Arched Windows. Elegant and regal, this style doesn’t typically open and is sometimes installed above standard windows.
4. Awning Windows. Great for areas that get a lot of rain, this style opens out which creates a water-resistant awning when opened.
5. Bay Windows/Bow Windows. Big and beautiful, these are great for giving a living room or sunroom lots of light. This style is slightly curved to create a circular design outside the home.
6. Casement Windows. Great for a modern, or even modern farmhouse look, casement windows swing out to the side or open up, allowing the design to consist mainly of solid glass, creating a less obstructed view of the outside.
7. Egress Windows. Designed for safety above all else, this style is typically installed in the basement of a home.
8. Garden Windows. Almost like mini bay windows, this style has earned its name because they act like mini-greenhouses where you can place your plants to provide them with optimum sunlight.
9. Glass Block Windows. Typically used as accents to add light to a room, this style is often adorned with a patterned design and typically seen in bathrooms.
Best Replacement Windows for Energy Efficiency
When looking at types of replacement windows that prioritize energy efficiency, the first thing you should look for is an ENERGY STAR certification. Finding windows with Low-e coating that can help to better insulate your home is a must.
ENERGY STAR Certification
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed and trusted symbol of efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label was established to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants and make it easier for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that help them and the environment.
For a window to earn the ENERGY STAR label, it must meet the following specifications:
- Contribute to significant energy savings nationwide.
- Deliver features and performance based on consumer demand.
- Feature energy consumption and performance that can be verified by testing.
- Ensure that if the product is more expensive than a less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment through increased energy efficiency.
Windows With Multiple Panes Of Glass
Put simply, double-pane windows are an improvement to your home’s insulation. Multi-pane windows are made and fitted with panes of glass that have insulating gas in between them to prevent heat transfer. This means your home’s HVAC system doesn’t have to overwork, and your heating and cooling bills won’t continually rise.
Argon-Filled Glass Panes
Along with double-pane windows, argon-filled windows provide optimal energy efficiency. Due to its density, argon gas is better than air at keeping the temperature of the window closer to room temperature.