Q:

What is some advice for comparing replacement windows?

A:

Quick Answer

When comparing replacement windows, be aware that brand names and higher prices do not always indicate good performance. Look for windows with top ratings that match the climate where you live, and avoid expensive options unless they are absolutely necessary. Select a well-established, reputable dealer after obtaining bids from several companies.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, wood-frame windows, though very attractive, tend to be the most expensive. You cannot stain or paint vinyl-frame windows, but they are the cheapest option. Fiberglass-frame windows have limited availability but offer the possibility of painting or not painting them.

Choose window styles based on location, weather conditions, ventilation needs and whether you want to install a window air conditioner. Double-hung windows open from the top or bottom and are good options for air conditioners. Casement-style windows offer good ventilation and close tightly against weather. Hopper-style windows have bottom hinges and open outward or inward, while awning-style windows have top hinges and deflect rain when open. Fixed windows allow light to enter but do not allow ventilation.

Energy-saving windows do not always justify the cost of materials and installation, and special features are only necessary in very cold climates. For instance, triple insulated glass or double glass with argon gas in the middle are not worth the high prices except in extreme climates or areas where the sound-muffling quality of the windows is necessary. Window coatings to reflect heat inward or outward have the drawback of reducing visibility.

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