Replacement Windows – Picking The Best For Your Needs

Replacement Windows - Sims Exteriors and remodeling - Madison WI
When comparing vinyl and composite replacement windows, be sure to understand how the interior is constructed

Replacement Windows – Picking the best For Your Needs

Window Replacement can be an expensive proposition. The challenge most homeowners face is choosing the right windows for their home. There are scores of options to choose from when you consider the combination of replacement windows manufacturers, window styles and materials used.

Window Replacement – It’s About Energy Efficiency

There are many things to look at when replacement window shopping, but a good place to start is to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the energy efficiency of all types of windows.  Regardless of different components, you need to know two significant ratios:

  • U-factor

The U-Factor measures how much indoor heat escapes to the outside through the windows. The lower the U-Factor number is (range is usually 0.25 to 1.25),  the better the window insulates.  Greater insulation equates to energy savings in climates where heating dominates home-energy bills.

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

This measures the amount of heat from outdoors entering a house through windows. The lower the SHGC (typically 0.25 to 0.80), the better the window blocks heat caused by sunlight. The result is greater savings in climates where cooling dominates.

A great tool for homeowners in Madison WI is the Energy Star rating system. Energy Star-qualified windows are labeled to indicate to which of four U.S. climate zones (northern, north central, south central and southern) a window is best suited. These ratings are based on the individual window’s U-factor and SHGC, which are also shown.

It’s About Materials With Replacement Windows

Below are general reviews of window materials listing the pros and cons of each type. The comparison is based on a 3-by-5-foot, double-hung unit, excluding installation.

Vinyl Replacement Windows ($200 to $800)

Pros – Maintenance-free.They provide good insulation (especially when air cavities in frame are filled) and are moisture-resistant. Better-quality vinyl windows are more dimensionally stable — they swell and shrink less with extremes of temperature — and resist yellowing, cracking and warping.

Cons – Colors and textures may be limited. Look for paintable or stainable surface treatments and hybrids with interior, wood-veneer finishes.

Composite Replacement Windows  ($600 to $1,000)

Pros: Made of wood and polymer – resembles wood in strength and insulating value and resists moisture and decay better. Can be textured, stained or painted.

Cons: None

Fiberglass Replacement Windows   ($750 to $1,200)

Pros: Strong, durable and dimensionally stable – can be painted – made to simulate wood. When air cavities are filled, insulating value is similar to wood or insulated vinyl.

Cons: Limited number of manufacturers

Wood and clad wood Replacement Windows   ($800 to $1,500)

Pros: Dimensionally stable, naturally insulating and aesthetically appealing. Typically the most expensive material.

Cons:Susceptible to moisture and insect damage. Look for treatments designed to increase durability and reduce maintenance, including exterior metal or vinyl cladding.

For assistance in selecting the best type of window and manufacturer for your needs, contact Sims Exteriors and Remodeling in Madison WI – 608-825-4500. We are replacement window specialists serving the Madison WI area including Middleton, Waunakee, Fitchburg, Oregon Verona, McFarland, Stoughton, Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie, DeForest and all of Dane County.

 Energy Star Performance Ratings