Energy-efficient replacement windows have become big business. More and more people have replaced their old windows (retrofitting, as it’s known) with windows that will stop heat from escaping, thus cutting their energy bills and eliminating a lot of outside noise. There are several different types of energy-efficient replacement windows on the market today, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Not all energy-efficient replacement windows are created equal. You should look for those that meet the efficiency standards of both the government's Energystar rating system and that of the National Fenestration Rating Council, a non-profit, window-industry group.
Vinyl has overtaken other materials to become the frame of choice for energy-efficient replacement windows. This is largely because of its ease of installation and durability. Unlike other frames, it won’t warp or bend, and it doesn’t need to be painted. All it requires is an annual cleaning with soap and water.
The cost of vinyl energy-efficient windows is also low, meaning they’re quite affordable for most people, and various government plans offer credits that make them even cheaper. Because vinyl is a very stable material, the windows seals on vinyl windows tend to stay intact for many years before they need to be replaced.
There’s little doubt that wood replacement windows are the most luxurious option. That also means that they tend to be the most expensive. That means replacing several windows at once could break the bank. Despite the cost, wood is not always a good material. While it offers aesthetic advantages, it’s prone to warping and can rot.
Wood needs to be properly sealed or painted and to be checked regularly, which involves replacing the sealant or paint every few years. In terms of maintenance, it’s far more demanding than vinyl. The potential problems with wood, which can even include splitting, make it an overall less-desirable material for energy-efficient replacement windows than vinyl.
Aluminum windows have come a long, long way since the early days of the 1960s and 1970s. Those windows were very basic and not especially efficient. Modern aluminium windows look and act a great deal better. The frames are no longer bare metal, but usually coated in a material like vinyl. The construction is a great deal sturdier, leaving them less prone to bending and warping, as long as they’ve been installed properly.
More than anything, energy-efficient windows made from aluminum suffer from their previous reputation. These days, they’re virtually as good as vinyl, although a little more expensive, and they require less maintenance than wood. Like vinyl, they enjoy a very high thermal efficiency, making them a good investment in the long term.
With all types of energy-efficient replacement windows, you should look for products made by a reputable manufacturer. These will be under warranty in the event of a problem or failure.