Anatomy of a Vinyl Window

Windows are the most invisible, yet visible parts of your home. If you think about it, most of your time is spent looking through them and not at them, yet they are one of the more prominent features of your living space and one that can be changed without doing a complete remodeling of your home. Windows are also one of the few improvements you can make to your home that will reap immediate benefits in terms of energy efficiency.

It’s no secret that, unless you have a gaping hole in your ceiling, windows are the biggest culprit when it comes to energy loss in the home. While this is not likely to change anytime in the near future due to the very nature of windows, it also makes it the easiest way to improve the energy performance of your house. The energy lost through a window is measured by using what is called the U-Value or U-Factor. This number is represented as a number between 0.01 and 1.00. The closer the number is to 0.01, the less heat loss there is; making 1.00 the theoretical U-Value of a gaping hole (zero effect). Take for example the effects of switching from single pane windows to the new standard of double pane windows. It is assumed for the most part that single-pane windows have a U-Value somewhere between. 0.85 and 0.95. Most double-pane windows will have a U-Value between 0.30 and 0.40. This translates to an increase in efficiency of over 50%! Why is there such a huge difference in the performance? Well, the technology exists where we can coat or “glaze” the glass to help refract some of the suns UV rays as well as create a sealed pocket of air or other gases to provide a thermal insulation layer between the interior of the house and the elements outside.

Modern windows can be made of wood, fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum or even a combination of two of those materials, such as an aluminum-clad wood or fiberglass-clad wood. Each of these materials has their own strengths and weaknesses in a variety of features from a maintenance, aesthetic, structural, thermal, life-span, and cost standpoint. For the most part, most windows are being made as double pane windows, although triple pane windows are gaining wider acceptance in the northeast region of the United States. Triple pane refers to the number of panes of glass used in the daylight opening of the window. There are a couple of added benefits to triple pane windows including increased sound abatement and better thermal performance. Unfortunately, while there are better thermal efficiencies, it is still a judgment call by the consumer as to if it is really enough to justify the significant increase in the cost of the window as the difference in the performance of a double pane versus a triple pane is right around 0.05 in the U-Factor (representing less than 20% increased efficiency) and the cost increase can be 25% or more from a double pane window.

Regardless of which windows you choose, replacing your old windows is one of the better investments you can make when it comes to home improvements. Not only will you feel the effects comfort-wise, but your pocketbook will thank you as well. Additionally, new windows should help you with the sale of your house when it comes time to do so. Feel free to contact our sales office to see if Diamond Windows is the right choice for you!

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