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Shopping For Windows? Read This Before You Reach For Your Wallet

The number and sizes of the windows in a home, significantly affect the quality of life of the occupants. Bigger windows allow more natural light and fresh air to come in. They are manufactured in different styles and materials. The First step is to choose what material is right for you.

1) Wood: If suitable to the design of your home, wood windows give warmth and charm to your home. Stained to any colour you like, they will complement your home and give it a character. They also have relatively great insulation value and tend to keep your home cool in the summer months and warm in the winter months. If properly maintained they will last a lifetime and save you a bit of money on heating and cooling. They need to be painted every few years, or else, they will start to rot. Some other drawbacks are the initial cost and their vulnerability to insects.

2) Aluminum: With a sleek and modern look, these windows are popular among people who like to see more glass than frames. They are durable and can last over 30 years. High in strength, they are suitable for homes built in areas with frequent storms. Compared to wood, they are considerably cheaper, but significantly less energy efficient. Aluminum windows are also more prone to condensation.

3) Vynil: The most popular choice amongst the homeowners, these windows come with a lower price tag. In addition to the lower initial cost, they will save you money down the road as well. These windows are considerably high in efficiency and will help you save on heating and cooling expenses. They are resistant to corrosion, rot, and last decades even in extreme weather. They do not require significant maintenance and are very durable. Reputable manufacturers like Windowcity, have great limited warranty coverage on their products. One drawback I would like to mention is that they come in limited colors.

4) Hybrid: Some manufacturers combine two different materials to make their windows more appealing. As an example, a combination of aluminum and vinyl gives the product efficiency and strength at the same time. Offering all the advantages of both materials together, they do come with a higher price tag than vinyl windows.

After picking the right material for your home, you need to pick the style of the windows.

Casement Windows: These windows are hinged on one side and open horizontally using a crank. They probably the most common type of window and can be used in any room. Most manufacturers make them in such a way, that the exterior of the glass is easy to clean from the inside when they are fully opened. These windows are also very energy-efficient given they close tight when you engage the latch. Their contemporary look complements any room you use them in. As for the drawbacks, when they are open, extreme wind can damage or completely tear the window apart. The maximum size of Casement windows is also limited.

Awning Windows: Popular to use in the basements, these windows are hinged on top and open outward. These windows have their crank handle at the bottom of the window. They are not recommended to be installed on higher floors since they are impossible to clean from the inside of the house.

Single or Double-hung Windows: These windows do not open outwards. They open by the movement of the sash vertically upwards and downwards. One big disadvantage is that they have a horizontal bar in the middle of the window which blocks the view at eye-level.

Slider Windows: Similar to single or double-hung windows, but they slide horizontally. Slider windows and Single or Double-hung windows, compared to Casement Windows, are less energy-efficient and more prone to water penetration since they can not close shut as tightly.

Picture Windows: These windows do not open at all. They work great in rooms where you don't need ventilation.

Another important factor you need to consider is, whether or not you should go for a Triple-Pane Window,

In Canada, windows are classified based on their Energy Performance Rating. A window's Energy Performance Rating depends on:

1) Heat Gain and Heat Loss through the glass and the frame.

2) Solar Heat Gains

3) Air Leakage

Low-E Coating: Applied to the window glass, this invisible coating adds insulating value to your window and blocks harmful UV rays.

Argon: Because of its natural characteristics, Argon decreases conduction heat loss and stops air movement between glazes.

Krypton: Compared to Argon, Krypton gas is a more expensive option and performs slightly better. Typically, Argon is used in double-pane windows, and Krypton is used in triple or quad pane windows. Krypton also reduces noise and sound coming from outside.

On average, triple-pane windows cost 10-15% more than double-pane, but are they worth the investment?

Triple-pane windows are definitely more energy-efficient. not only do they have an extra Low-E coated glass which helps with insulating values, but they also take more gas fill. The extra chamber full of gas improves the windows Energy Rating by almost 20%. More insulating value also leads to a higher temperature in the interior surface of the glass, giving the window a better chance of reducing condensation. The extra pane of glass also helps reduce outside noise.

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