Like anything you do with your home, choosing replacement windows is not a task to be taken lightly. It can be a big investment, and there are a number of things to consider before you buy.
In places like Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh and Philadelphia counties, homeowners need to find windows that are affordable, attractive and energy efficient, able to contend with Pennsylvania’s hot summers and icy winters.
Here are some steps to take in order to find the best replacement windows for your home.
The Best Replacement Windows Don’t Necessarily Cost the Most
When Consumer Reports compared a number of double-hung clad wood windows last year, it found that the priciest window it tested wasn’t that great at keeping out cold air and rain as its lower-priced counterparts.
Match Your Windows to Your Climate
If you’re choosing replacement windows in a place like Bucks County, you’ll need windows that can handle heat and cold and everything in between. If you lived through Superstorm Sandy, you might want to consider windows that are rated for their wind resistance ability.
Choosing Energy Efficient Replacement Windows
One of the factors homeowners should consider when picking replacement windows is energy efficiency. Windows that have the Energy Star certification can lower your household energy bills by 15 to 25 percent on average with the help of argon gas insulation between the panes. Some utilities offer homeowners financial incentives for buying Energy Star Windows.
Look for the numbers on these windows. It’s what’s called a U-factor or a U-value. The lower the number – it’s typically between .20 and .30 –the better the window is at keeping heat in as well as the cold in while keeping the sun rays from working against your air conditioner.
Go Easy on Upgrades for Your Windows
According to Consumer Reports, adding extra options to your windows can drive up the base price by 50 percent or more. If you’re going to add extra features, choose ones that bring value to your home. A Low-E coating will improve efficiency, but adding triple glazing to your window may not be necessary unless it gets extremely cold where you live. Windows with double hung sashes that tilt inwards are easier to clean.
Know Your Frames When Choosing Replacement Windows
There are a number of types of frames to choose from when picking your new windows. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each:
- Wood frames look good and are energy efficient, but require a lot of upkeep (sanding, painting, staining, etc.) Wood can also warp and rot, which means you’ll need to replace the windows more often.
- Aluminum or vinyl clad wood frames also require maintenance, although not as much as pure wood frames. You’ll get maintenance free on the outside of your window.
- Better vinyl windows tend to cost the least and offer good energy performance, but the lack the strength of wood or aluminum frames.
- True Fiberglass windows, not Fibrex (vinyl windows disguised as Fiberglass) can give you the best of both worlds in strength, maintenance free and performance.
Avoid Disreputable Companies When Choosing Replacement Windows
You’ve found the right windows, but have you found the right window company? Historically, contractors and home improvement companies – which include window replacement – have ranked high on the Better Business Bureau’s list of Most Complained About Industries.
The BBB warns customers against window dealers who push to be paid up front or in cash. It’s also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer watchdog groups to learn the history of the contractors you’re considering.
Other Tips For Choosing the Best Replacement Windows
- Shop around. Don’t feel like you need to make a decision right away.
- Avoid unsolicited offers. Get your estimates from local replacement window dealers and installers with a proven track record and quality references.
- Don’t make a big down payment, and don’t make a final payment until the work is done to your satisfaction.
- Anybody knocking on your door to buy windows, is trying to make a one call close, (hard sell). Watch out for the famous phrase- “this price is for today only” – don’t buy and feel rushed.
You should also ask yourself these questions when choosing replacement windows:
1. What qualities am I looking for in a window?
2. How long will the window last before I need to replace it?
3. What kind of warranty does the window have?
4. What kind of reputation does the contractor have?
5. How energy efficient is the window?
6. Does the window have Energy Star approval?
7. How many panes does it have?
8. Does the window have multiple layers of soft coating?
9. Does the window have gas insulation between the panes?
10. How good are the windows security locks?
Buying windows is a big investment and you should feel comfortable with that purchase and company. It is an investment for your home.
Tom Adams Can Help You Find the Best Replacement Windows
Whether you’re in the market for wood, fiberglass or vinyl, Tom Adams Windows and Carpet can help you make the right choice for your home and your budget. We have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and 60 years of experience serving customers in Bucks and Montgomery counties and the Philadelphia and Allentown areas.
Choosing the best replacement windows can be a tough decision. Let us help you make the right choice.