Written by Paul Eastman of The Skylight Place
So you are thinking about getting replacement windows but don’t know where to start. Well you have come to the right place. Whether you have old single pane wood, aluminum windows or dual pane aluminum windows, I bet the main reason you are considering new windows is energy efficiency.
If you are looking for energy efficiency the first thing you want to do is stay away from aluminum windows. Just because a window is dual pane does not mean it is energy efficient. Aluminum windows expand and contract at much higher rates than vinyl, fiberglass, or wood windows. What does that mean for you? It means that you are losing heat in the winter and heat is coming in during the summer. The expanding and contracting of the windows will also generate a higher dual pane seal failure. When the aluminum expands and contracts it moves the glass. Dual pane glass is sealed together by butyl glue and an aluminum or foam spacer. When the glass receives excessive movement (like you will get with a aluminum frame), over time the seal is going to fail which will cause the glass to get moisture in between the two panes. The only way to get rid of the moisture is to change the glass. I am sure you have seen companies advertise that they can get the moisture out but believe me that doesn’t work.
So what window is right for you? If you are on a budget and don’t have ocean-front property, vinyl is the best choice. Vinyl windows are around the same price as aluminum windows but provide significantly more energy efficiency and also fewer headaches down the road. Since they won’t expand and contract as much as the aluminum, you get far less seal failure. I highly recommend Milgard windows. They have two vinyl lines: Styleline and Tuscany.
There are two reasons I recommend Milgard: Quality and Warranty. Milgard has been named best quality vinyl window 8 times by Builder magazine. They also make their vinyl in-house. So unlike other companies who buy their vinyl for a distributor, Milgard’s vinyl doesn’t contain fillers which can weaken the vinyl and make it more likely to crack. Milgard has the best warranty available in the window industry: full lifetime parts and labor. If it is a rental, your warranty is 10 years. The Tuscany also comes with a full glass breakage warranty. Now you can have baseball practice at your house. Milgard has full time service technicians so you don’t have to worry about having a subcontractor out at your house.
The Styleline is your entry mode, vinyl window. It lacks the bells and whistles of the Tuscany window but not the quality. It is a great choice if you are on a budget or if it is a rental. The Tuscany series is the top end of the vinyl window world. It comes with a smart touch lock which has been approved by the arthritic foundation for its ease of use. It also has day breeze latches if you prefer to only have the window open a couple of inches. The Tuscany series is going to get sightly better energy rating because it does seal up a little better that the Styleline.
If you are by the ocean I recommend a fiberglass window. Fiberglass is going to hold up a little better to the salt air and ocean winds. Another main benefit of fiberglass is that it is paintable. Keep in mind, though: fiberglass windows are going to run you about 40% more than vinyl. Fiberglass windows also come with a option for wood on the interior.
If you are looking for energy efficiency replacement windows there are affordable solutions out there. Vinyl and Fiberglass are both good choices depending on your needs, but you will want to stay away from aluminum windows.
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