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Choosing the Right Type of Windows for your Home

You probably don't give them much thought on a daily basis, but the types of windows you have in your home can have a huge effect on your heating and cooling bills. If you have an older home, perhaps it's time to think about replacing your windows with newer, more efficient ones.

When choosing from the many types of windows, it's important to consider the frame as well as the glass.

Common Types of Windows: Pros and Cons

  • Aluminum frames have excellent tensile strength and are powder-coated or anodized to resist fading. Aluminum is impervious to rot, flaking, and peeling. The drawbacks? They offer poor thermal performance and are susceptibie to condensation.
  • Vinyl is an economical material with a virtually maintenance-free finish that resists the elements and provides excellent thermal performance. Vinyl windows come in a variety of styles and colors, including simulated wood-grain.
  • Wood is a traditional material with good insulating properties, but requires considerable maintenance and is subject to rot, insects, and peeling. Also, it is more expensive than other materials.
  • Fiberglass is a maintenance-free material with excellent thermal performance. It resists extreme temperatures, water and ultraviolet damage, warping, cracking, and peeling, but it can be expensive.
  • Composite is a resin alloy that has excellent thermal performance and dimensional stability. It's maintenance-free and features wood veneer interior, though it is less expensive than wood.

Factors to Consider

  • Double or triple panes featuring an inert gas (such as argon) will give the best performance.
  • Also consider low-E coatings with a high, moderate, or low solar gain factor, depending on your climate.

Keep in mind that the frame material is perhaps more important than the glass for thermal and sound insulation as well as for maintenance. Ask your contractor or windows dealer to recommend the best window type for your home.