Thursday, August 28, 2014

Choose the right windows for your home

We all love lots of windows - we love the natural light, the views, and the fresh air they offer us. Today however, there are so many kinds of windows available that it's often difficult to decide which windows to choose. Windows must be aesthetically attractive, let in plenty of light, functional, durable, easily maintained, secure and energy-efficient. And we want all this for an affordable price.

How you go about choosing windows for your home will be determined by a variety of factors, including your budget, your area, climate, your requirements and of course, the size and style of your home. However, there are major factors that ought to be considered before making your decision, which include:

Quality and performance

It is essential that when you are choosing windows, you compare their performance ratings. Most windows do an excellent job at keeping out drafts and high winds when the temperature is warm. It is during the chillier winter months, when you really need their protection, that many inferior quality windows under perform and the true quality of the windows is put to the test. So when you are making your comparisons, don’t look at the claims and guarantees for when the climate is fair, look for how they handle extreme conditions. The weather stripping and other components in inferior quality windows can often stiffen or shrink during cold weather, resulting in bad performance.

Compare apples with apples

Experts advise that you speak to window experts in your area – they should be able to recommend which windows will best suit your home’s area and its climate. In most cases, they will no doubt recommend the most expensive window in their particular range. Before refusing point blank and making your decision purely based on price, first find out what makes that window the best option. Once you know this, you can compare apples with apples, and shop around to find the most suitable option for your particular situation. By sifting through the sales pitch, you will be able to evaluate what convenience features you are paying for and whether this extra performance is necessary to you.

Be specific to your home and area

If you are building your home from scratch, it is highly recommended to get your architect involved and source your windows before the building starts. Different windows are created to cater for different areas and climatic conditions. As such, it is essential that you take into account recommendations by experts in the 'know', in order to make a well informed choice. For example, if you live in a noisy location, you will most certainly want double-glazing to reduce the noise. If you live in a very hot area, windows with double-glazing, E-coatings and a low solar-heat-gain rate will be the most functional option. On the other hand, if you live in an area that has very nippy winters, or you are merely concerned with the cost of heating your home during winter, you will give priority to your windows being well-insulated, double-glazed and draft-free.

A question of style

The windows you choose must fit with the architectural style of your home, as well as your personal taste and preferences. For example, many homeowners love wooden windows, however, they often don’t choose them for their homes, as they understand that they require more maintenance than their metal counterparts. Other features that will be influenced by your lifestyle include things like the window’s tilt for example - some windows tilt inward versus opening outwards, allowing you to clean them more easily. Views and security are two other major considerations.

Energy efficiency

With the cost of energy increasing yearly, it is very important to buy windows that will maintain the indoor temperature whether it is heating or cooling that is required. Windows and doors are the primary entry points for cold and the primary exit points for heat. An investment in good thermal windows will save you money in the long run and provide you and your family with the indoor comfort you desire. In today’s market there are a number of energy-efficient options available, including:

- Low-E glass coatings that reflect heat energy while admitting visible light.

- Windows with high visible transmittance (VT) are easy to see through and admit natural light decreasing the amount of artificial light you need in your home.

- Shading coefficient (SC) ratings used to describe how much solar heat their windows transmit can be very useful.

- Windows that block UV-radiation reduce fabric fading - the best windows can block out as much as 75% of UV-energy.

- Edging of windows with multiple-pane glazing that is held apart by highly conductive aluminium spacers to avoid frost and condensation accumulation on windows.

- Energy efficient glazing that reduces condensation and offers good insulation properties.

You get what you pay for

Don't skimp on your window budget – opt for the best quality you can afford. A high quality window has so many benefits, including lower energy bills, less maintenance, reduced fading of furniture and carpets, improved security, beauty and comfort. It most certainly pays to make a good window investment. - Antonella Desi

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