Return to Window Maintenance, Repair and Design Articles
How Replacement Windows Work -
A Review of Your View
Is your house cold in the winter? Is it drafty? Or is it too
hot in the summer, so you have to retreat to the confines of your cool basement?
It's ok – don't sell your house. There's an easier answer to your woes –
replacement windows. Replacing old windows is a great way to make your home life
easier – in many ways. So we'd like to show you how replacement windows work –
what to look for and how to prepare. And when we're done, you'll be done being
uncomfortable. So get out your notebook, and pay attention.
Why would you want replacement windows?
are many reasons why people decide to shop for replacement windows for their
homes. Most of them are based on either comfort, or cost. If the windows
currently in your home are drafty, or cold, then you'll probably want to
consider replacing them. If your home gets very hot during the summer, then
that's another reason. If you're having trouble keeping up with the rising cost
of heating and/or cooling your home, then that, too, creates a need for you to
replace your windows.
They say "Dreams are the windows of the soul". Well, if your windows are
giving you nightmares, then perhaps your soul is trying to tell you to go
shopping for replacement windows. With the wide selection available these days,
we're sure you can solve your woes with some beautiful windows that'll not only
make your home more attractive, but will make it more comfortable and less
What are replacement windows?
There are several basic types of replacement windows, with each style having
its own special purpose. Pretty well all windows these days are double-pane.
That means that there are two panes of glass with an airspace between them.
These days, they're even adding insulating gas instead of air between the panes,
to reduce heat loss. Double-pane windows are much more energy efficient than
their predecessor, the single-pane window. However, there are still some uses
for single-pane windows - wherever warmth isn't a factor, like in sheds or barns
or other outer buildings. But with the focus on energy efficiency these days,
there's not a lot of call for them in homes.
Another old standard that's slowly making its way out is clear glass. With
technology advancing as fast as it is these days, glass is changing - not the
actual makeup of the glass, but what they put on it and between it. The purpose
of the replacement window industry is to create a window that's functional,
cost-effective, energy efficient, and looks good, too. That's a tall order, but
they're doing a great job of it.
What are replacement windows made of?
There are four basic materials used for making the framework of replacement
windows today. The oldest source of window frames is wood. Wood will always be
the best insulator, but it's the disadvantages that've led to the industry's
pursuit of a higher-quality, more functional material. The first material to be
added to a window frame was vinyl. Vinyl is now added to wood, in a composite
material called Fibrex, that increases the strength and endurance of the window
frame. It also makes windows more customizable.
Aluminum has been a common material used in windows for some time. It, too,
is easily customizable, but it's not a very good insulator. How many times have
you seen mildew around the frame of an aluminum window? That's because it causes
condensation and, unless you wipe it up regularly (which is a pain), you'll have
problems. That's why aluminum windows are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
Some replacement windows are made of fiberglass, but this isn't a very
popular choice because it's quite expensive.
Energy efficiency is a major goal of replacement windows
With the high cost of utility bills these days, and the environmentalists
lobbying for ways to save
energy, the replacement window industry has stepped up to the plate and
produced many ways to please everybody involved. Energy-efficient windows are
becoming the norm today and the methods of accomplishing this are quite
If you stand by your window, it's easy to understand why changes are being
sought. In the summer, it's hot; in the winter, it's cold. So there's a drive to
build a wall between you and the outdoors - a wall you can still see through.
And that's what technology has created. They've found a way to keep your house
comfortable, no matter what the season or climate.
You want your home to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If your
windows are there just to allow you to see outside, then they're doing their
job. But if you want them to be instrumental in keeping your house at a constant
comfortable temperature, then you need more. You need the new technology of
One of the first methods of insulating your windows was to double them - that
is, put two panes of glass in the window frame, with an airspace between the
two. The idea behind this is that the air between the panes will keep the
outside window at the outside temperature, and the inside window at the inside
temperature, and "ne'er the twain shall meet". This worked fine, but not as well
as people wanted.
The next innovation was to cover the window with a clear coating that would
improve heat loss without decreasing light. That improvement came in the form of
low-emissivity (Low-E) glass. It improved heat loss by 40%-70%. But people
wanted still more.
So heat-absorbing glass was developed. This glass absorbs up to 45% of
sunlight, keeping indoors cooler. However, some heat was still getting through.
So on to the next development - reflective glass. Reflective glass is coated
with a film that reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it. So now the heat
stays out, or in, depending on what time of year it is, and on what you need to
make you comfortable.
What type of replacement window should you get?
There are many types of replacement windows. Shopping for them is no different than shopping for any
other major purchase. You need to do your homework - find out what you can
afford, what looks good with your house, what's the most functional for your
home, what's the most energy-efficient. You need to go to showrooms.
"Test-drive" all the models. Open and close the windows. Get to know them well.
It's also very important to get accurate measurements. There's always a
little leeway when you're fitting replacement windows, and there are ways to
make small adjustments, but we're talking about a matter of about an inch either
way - not a lot of room for error.
When you're considering what type of windows to buy, you'll find your choices
are numerous. Depending on its use, you'll be able to pick any one of the
following styles. There are single-hung, awning, bay, bow, fixed frame, slider, double-hung and casement replacement windows. That's a lot of thinking for you. But if
you've done your homework, you'll know when you see it, which style is best for
Replacing your windows needn't be a chore
Have fun with your project. Replacement windows are going to give you all
kinds of advantages with your home. They'll make it look more attractive.
They'll make it more energy-efficient, thus saving you money. They'll make your
cleaning easier. They'll increase the value of your home. All these points add
up to the bottom line - it's worth it!
So don't be intimidated by the size of the job. If you make a plan and follow
it step-by-step, you'll soon be able to sit back and see the fruits of your
About the author: Gareth Marples a successful
homebased freelance copywriter,
one of experience and diversity. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and
valuable insight on typically confusing topics. (This article reprinted with permission.)
© 2004 - Net Guides Publishing, Inc.
Return to Window Maintenance, Repair and Design Articles