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3 Things To Look At When Buying Vinyl Replacement Windows

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Vinyl replacement windows are an excellent way to update your home. And this especially rings true when considering that the right ones can help you save up to 40% on your heating and cooling expenses. Whether you're thinking of selling, you need a new look, or you wish to save money in the long run, here are three things to look at before buying so you get the most out of your investment.

Cross Section of the Window

Consumers tend to inspect the exterior of a window to determine its esthetic value. But what's on the inside counts too. When doing your initial research, look at a cross section of the windows you're thinking of purchasing. You'll notice chambers inside. These chambers are there for several reasons.

First, they help the window maintain its structural integrity by reinforcing the frame when exposed to heat. Without them, the window would be more likely to change shape over time, especially in hot climates. Second, the chambers contain pockets of air that help to insulate the window, making them much more energy efficient.

Vinyl windows with multiple chambers are more expensive than those with less chambers. But because they're higher in quality, they're a more sound investment.

Construction of the Frame

If you have an eye for this sort of thing, you may be able to spot it yourself. If not, ask the sales associate how the frame is constructed, and specifically, how the seams are sealed. It's generally done in one of several ways.

In the less expensive option, screws are utilized to hold the frame together at the seams. The problem with this is you end up with decreased sturdiness and possible leaks in bad weather. Top-of-the-line models will actually be welded together along the seams in the frame as well as the sash. This creates a stronger product that protects against leaks and breakage of the frame. 

Energy Efficiency

This could turn out to be one of the most important factors influencing your decision. When investing in vinyl replacement windows, you want to choose a model that will keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There's no need to get bogged down with all the different variables, but there are a few things that will be key in your decision, and some of it depends on what part of the country you live in, particularly your climate.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

This number ranges from 0-1. The lower the coefficient, the less likely solar heat is to enter your home. As such, those who live in cold, northern climates who wish to reduce their heating load should choose a window with a higher SHGC. In rare instances, you might have trouble keeping your home or a particular room cool. In this case, go with a lower SHGC (< 0.55).

Those who live in warm, southern climates generally wish to block as much solar heat as possible. Therefore, they should opt for the choice with a lower SHGC coefficient, preferably less than 0.40.


This number reflects how much heat is lost through the window, and thus indicates the window's ability to insulate. The lower the U-value, the better it is at insulating and protecting against heat loss.

Those who live in cold climates and have excessively high heating bills should pay particular attention to this number. If it works with your budget, select a vinyl window with a U-value of less than 0.35.

If you live in a warm climate, you're given a little more leeway with this, but typically it's best to avoid a U-value that exceeds 0.75.

When all is said and done, a good contractor will help you weigh your options and choose a window that is right for you and your home. You can have a peek here for more information about window replacement options.