Your house of glass

Mmmm, open the windows, let that sweet fresh breeze blow through!

Windows. Partly practical, partly aesthetic, they are an integral part of your home. What is your best option, though? Well, it comes down to one thing: The best windows for you are the ones that meet your own needs for as long as you own your home.

Windows can account for as much as a third of your home’s exterior area. The total window area (or window-to-wall ratio) affects energy performance, and has an impact on your home’s heating and cooling system. Windows also introduce daylight into your homes which reduces the need for lighting. More importantly, they provide ventilation, - that sweet fresh breeze - which is so critical for your health.

While on the job, I’ve operated thousands of windows, and inspected thousands more. The basic nature of windows is simple, they keep the outside on the outside, and the inside on the inside, but for me, they are a luxury. The more windows the better. 

Replace your windows for the right reason

Home inspectors often hear their clients say that the windows in their potential home are old and need to be replaced, but - this may surprise you - replacing windows just because they are old doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

Energy savings
Don’t assume that you will save money on energy bills by replacing windows.

On one hand, replacing single pane windows with double pane windows does make sense - energy loss is typically reduced by two-thirds, so you’ll see a definite improvement in your heating bill. 

On the other hand, replacing older double pane windows with newer and more efficient ones will only offer a 10% saving in energy costs, which means it will take years to recover the cost. 

That aside, by replacing your older windows with newer energy efficient ones, you might qualify for local energy rebates that can be used to offset acquisition costs. 

Improved aesthetics
Changing to new windows for aesthetic reasons makes good sense. New vinyl frame windows are a sure bet to improve the look of your home. 

Better ambient indoor temperature
Older windows were typically made of plain plate glass that allowed for rapid thermal transfer. They were often set in metal frames that offered poor thermal value.

Low E glass - Newer vinyl windows have double panes of insulating glass known as low E glass, which slows down the sun’s ultraviolet rays to reduce heat gain. Low E glass isn’t a type of glass, it is a transparent metallic oxide coating that is applied to the glass, allowing short-wave energy to pass through while reflecting long-wave infrared energy for greater thermal efficiency.

Argon gas - In between the panes of glass most new vinyl windows are filled with argon gas. Argon is an inexpensive, non-toxic, odorless gas that improves the thermal and sound-proofing characteristics of the window. 

Superior performance
In my book, the biggest reason to update to new vinyl windows is ease of operation. New vinyl windows are a breeze to operate over metal framed sliders, they operate much better than older wood framed windows. Vinyl windows slide easily and latch well with a flick of a finger. 

Cleaning vinyl framed windows is easy, compared to double sliding metal framed ones.

If you are looking to invest in new windows, you’ll discover newer vinyl windows offer many benefits. However, new windows don’t always equate to instant savings, so if you do it, do it for the right reasons.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

How does this story make you feel? (38 total votes)
Castanet MoodMeter


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More About the House articles

About the Author

When you need advice or guidance with DIY home improvement and repairs, Hugh Cairns can help you with the answers.

Home improvements can be rewarding, turn your home into a nicer more comfortable place to live, and increase its value.

Whether you are renovating your kitchen, converting a loft, giving a room a lick of paint or making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, this column is here to guide you with useful information and key things to remember.

Do you have a renovation question or concern? Please feel free to send Hugh your questions. Contact him through www.subject2homeinspections.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories