Get More Out Of New Windows

This winter, the cold winds blowing through much of the country may lead many homeowners to take notice of how drafty and inefficient their windows are. If you're thinking about replacing yours, Danny Lipford, the host of "Today's Homeowner", has some options to consider.

Here are four of the main types of windows:

Single or Double Hung: Single or double hung windows are probably among the most common windows that you will see. They are comprised of two separate "sashes" (the actual pane of glass in the inner frame), which open or close by sliding up or down. A single hung window opens from the bottom only by sliding up whereas a double hung window (which looks exactly the same) can be opened from either the top or the bottom. Double hung windows are ideal for many homes as you can lower the top sash and create wonderful ventilation. They are especially suited to homes where there are small children who might climb out of a bottom window.

Product featured: Simonton Stormbreaker Plus Double Hung vinyl window with impact resistant glass. List price per unit: $510

Safety tip: Window screens do not support the weight of a small child.

Casement: Casement windows generally consist of one large pane of glass that is hinged vertically on one side or the other, and opens by swinging and swings open from opposite side. Usually a lever or other mechanism is used to open this style of window.

Product featured: Simonton Casement Window 2'x 3'. List price per unit: $323

Slider: Slider (or glider) windows - do just that. They slide open from side to side. These are an excellent choice when there is limited space outside to swing the window open such as in a casement window.

Product featured: Anderson Model #G336 with Stone Hardware. List price per unit: $675

Awning: Awning windows are hinged horizontally at the top and are opened by tilting the window out from the bottom. As their name suggests, the awning window creates the appearance of an awning. These windows are most popular in coastal areas and in bathrooms.

Products featured: Pella Designer series with slimshades (4129), 41" x 29". Price per unit: $400
Pella Architect Classic series (2121), 21 "x 21". List price per unit: $225


The most popular window materials today are wood, vinyl or PVC (another name for vinyl - polyvinyl Chloride). There are also variations, including "wood clad". (There are also aluminum frames, but they are being used less and less.)

Wood: Wood, of course, is beautiful and certainly resistant to heat and cold. However, the natural look that homeowners love means considerable maintenance. Besides periodic painting and staining, the wood must be treated to protect from moisture as it can warm, crack and stick.

Vinyl: Like their vinyl fences cousins, vinyl windows have become one of the most popular choices among homeowners. Vinyl is virtually maintenance free, provides excellent insulation, is reasonably priced and of course looks great!

Clad: This is a combination of wood and vinyl.

Gone are the days of the single pane clear glass window. Nowadays, as with every other area of our lives, advancements in technology have made choosing glass a lesson in science.

Multiple Panes: There is almost no part of the country where you would invest in a single pane window. So what comes next? Double-pane, triple-pane even quadruple pane. And as if that wasn't enough, you also get to choose the distance between the panes. As a point of interest - the additional panes of glass do not add to the insulating factor of the window. It is the air between the glass that provides the additional insulation. Nowadays, most companies offer a gas fill (usually Argon) that costs very little and insulates better than air alone.

Low Emissivity ("Low-e") Glass: Low-e glass refers to glass with a special microscopically thin, virtually invisible layer of material on the surface of the glass. This serves to reduce the amount of heat that can flow through the glass itself.

Impact Resistant Glass: If you whack this glass with a baseball bat, it may crack, but it will not cause the window to shatter and spread glass all over the place. The beauty of this glass is that under extreme weather conditions it holds up beautifully. And of course the occasional stray baseball won't leave you with a big mess to clean up.


  • Be Careful of Low Quality Products - When choosing windows, one tried and true rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. While cost is certainly important, it is very important to choose a quality product made by a well-known company. It is imperative to choose a well-constructed product that will provide the energy savings with well-made mechanisms that will hold up over time. Two consumer labels to look for that are a sign of good quality and make purchasing decisions easier are:

    "Energy Star" label. This is an endorsement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). They are working together to promote the use of energy-efficient equipment by awarding the "Energy Star" label to products that save energy.

    Another respected energy performance label is from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). This organization adopted a new energy performance label in 1998. It lists the manufacturer, describes the product, provides a source for additional information, and includes ratings for one or more energy performance characteristics.

  • Examine the Warranty - Carefully read the warranties offered by the various manufacturers. This is where a well-known company with a good reputation will serve you well. Companies that have been around for a while are more likely to be around in the future should your lever cease to operate.
  • Choose the product before you get a contractor - There are several ways to find a good window installation contractor. A great idea is to call your local Home Builder's Association also check with the manufacturer. For example, Pella offers a specially training to contractors so that they are specifically trained to install Pella products properly.