Window Replacement

Six Options to Consider on Your Window Replacement Project

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Dec. 29, 2014 — Window replacement is an expensive capital improvement. Replacement windows, unlike windows in a newly constructed building, have to be custom-made. However, the hefty sticker price doesn’t mean boards can’t get attractive, efficient windows at reasonable prices. It comes down to knowing what you need and having an architect or engineer advise you and prepare specifications. There are a wide variety of window types — not to mention the size, shape, and thickness of the glass and frames — to consider. And don’t forget about the state and city rules and regulations that will ultimately drive your choice.

What’s Available?

Here are six options to consider.

  • Single-hung or double-hung. This refers to the “sashes,” the part of the window that moves, consisting of the window glass and an interior frame. With double-hung, both the top and bottom sashes move. Single-hung means only one of the sashes, typically the bottom one, moves.
  • Fixed or opening-and-closing. While fixed, non-opening windows are generally used in office buildings, they are also common in high-rise residential skyscrapers.
  • Double-pane or triple-pane glass. Window glass — a.k.a. the glazing — becomes insulated, both in terms of heat/cold and noise, when you have multiple panes separated by air or an inert gas.
  • Low-e coating or lamination. Low-emissivity or low-emittance glazing reduces the amount of the sun’s UV and infrared light rays to help prevent the former from causing fabrics to fade and the latter from transmitting heat into a building.
  • Tilt-and-turn, removable, or casement windows. With the popular tilt-and-turn option, apartment owners use a lever, button, or other mechanism to tilt a sash inward to clean both the inside and outside. Less popular are removable sashes, which leave a large temporary open space that creates the risk of objects, including the sash itself, falling out. Casement windows are hinged like a door and open in for cleaning.
  • Frame material. Aluminum frames are the most common in the New York City area as wood is more expensive and also harder to install without damaging the wall. Some buildings, for historical or aesthetic reasons, want wood on the exterior and aluminum-clad wood on the interior. This wood can be either solid or composite, which is particle board made of sawdust and glue. Composite is often better for window purposes than solid wood, which expands, contracts, and soaks up moisture.

Aluminum frames have come a long way since the 1980s, namely because metal conducts heat and cold really well. Window manufacturers have put in a thermal break — rubber or some other material that breaks the conductivity — between the aluminum on the outside and on the inside; this largely negates the transfer of heat and cold.

There is also better soundproofing because of better glazing, which is the formal name for the double- or triple-paned glass unit within the frame. No one puts in a single pane of glass anymore.

Adapted from “The Day the Windows Died” by Frank Lovece (Habitat, December 2014)

attic spray foam insulation

Poll: Energy Efficiency is America’s No. 1 Housing Concern

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Safety, affordability and privacy – it’s no surprise that these were some of top housing needs identified in a recent national survey of more than 10,000 households. But the No. 1 unmet housing concern, which the Demand Institute that carried out the poll defined as the “satisfaction gap” between what respondents actually have and what they said was important, was not as easily expected: energy efficiency.

Survey respondents were given a list of 52 housing and community concerns and asked to rank them, on a scale of 1 to 10, by how important they felt the issues were and how much their current home satisfied these needs. The result: 71 percent of U.S. households polled placed a great deal of importance on energy efficiency, but only 35 percent felt their homes were very energy efficient with low monthly utility costs (the respondents making up percentages answered these questions with an 8, 9 or 10 ranking).

Based on these numbers, energy efficiency was the housing concern with the largest gap between the rates of importance and satisfaction – beating out consumer needs and wants for updated kitchens, storage space, safe neighborhoods, affordability, landlord responsiveness and more.

Why the strong desire for energy-wise homes?

“Utilities are a significant and regular part of households’ budgets, and spending on utilities has risen more quickly than overall consumer spending – 56 percent vs. 38 percent growth since 2000,” said Louise Keely, president of the Demand Institute, a nonprofit think tank jointly created and operated by Nielsen and the Conference Board to monitor consumer demand.

This interest in reducing utility bills was likely the motivation for another poll finding: 90 percent of households reported taking measures to reduce energy use in the last five years:

  • 67 percent of respondents said they changed their energy-use habits
  • 63 percent switched to CFL or LED bulbs
  • 38 percent sealed air leaks
  • 34 percent replaced old, inefficient appliances
  • 28 percent installed a programmable thermostat

It’s telling that despite the high percentage of households making energy-efficiency improvements, 35 percent of poll participants were still not satisfied with their homes’ energy usage; America’s housing stock has a long way to go before it consumes energy very efficiently.

But there has been a significant investment in the energy efficiency field over the past few years, especially from the 2009 federal stimulus. There are now more trained home performance professionals who know how to weatherize homes, as well as more rebates and services for home energy-efficiency improvements than ever. So, why aren’t Americans taking better advantage of these opportunities, if they say they are so interested in energy efficiency?

Perhaps it’s a simple matter of consumers not knowing about services and programs, or – as is most often the case – it’s about money; individuals simply cannot afford to retrofit their homes, even with the rebates and financing options available to them.

The Demand Institute did find a difference in the types of energy-saving actions taken between higher- and lower-income households, Keely said. (The poll attempted to capture a representation of all U.S. households: renters and owners, young and old, high- and low-income).

“Many energy efficiency enhancing options where there is a significant tax impact, like replacing windows or doors, are very expensive and are more likely to be taken by higher income households,” she said. “Lower income households are more likely to report taking inexpensive actions like applying weather stripping or plastic wrapping to windows and doors.”

Advocates for energy efficiency have long known that financing is the key to convincing more Americans to upgrade their homes – by offering attractive rebates and tax credits, or allowing homeowners to pay for retrofits over time through their property taxes or on their utility bills, for example. But now that consumer demand for energy efficiency is at an all-time high, finding ways to make energy improvements more affordable is more important than ever.

Image credit: Flickr/Brett and Sue Coulstock

Passionate about both writing and sustainability, Alexis Petru is freelance journalist and communications consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose work has appeared on Earth911, Huffington Post and Patch.com. Prior to working as a writer, she coordinated environmental programs for Bay Area cities and counties. Connect with Alexis on Twitter at @alexispetru

Welcome to Green Lite Windows & Doors

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As we continue to grow our business, it’s appropriate, from time to time, to give thanks to our customers, and welcome the new ones. Green Lite Windows & Doors is been profoundly grateful to the hundreds of people that have been a part of our success. We thank you!

With the launch of our new website, we’d like to take a moment and welcome you! We strive to provide the best customer service experience, and deliver value to your home. If you have any questions, please give us a call today. Thank you!