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3 Essential Functions of Windows: Are You Being Served?


Windows provide an essential transition between the indoors and outdoors. A favorite pastime is to sit by a window and watch the world go by. However, windows also serve important functions as part of your house’s envelope and also in your daily life.

You may be thinking of replacing your windows. You’ll have some big choices to make that will impact your home and lifestyle for the next several years. Below is a foundation for you to start with so you can make well-informed choices about which replacement windows will best serve your needs.

1. Providing Natural Sunlight

When you think of your windows, probably the first thing that comes to mind is natural sunlight. Homeowners almost universally value more natural sunlight in their houses. Indeed, the amount of natural sunlight a house provides is one of the first qualities potential homebuyers look at when shopping.

Unless you’re doing a major renovation, you may not be in a position to add more window space to your house. One option is to add a skylight, which isn’t quite as involved a renovation as adding wall windows. You might also have the option of enlarging some of your current windows during the replacement process.

While sunlight is valued by homeowners, too much can have negative effects. The main problems are the ultraviolet and infrared rays. UV rays fade belongings and paint while also harming the skin and eyes. Infrared rays increase internal temperatures, which in turn can increase cooling costs. To that end, you’ll want to look into low-E coatings for your replacement windows.

2. Delivering Energy Efficiency

On that topic, savvy homeowners know windows are more than a vehicle for letting the sunshine in. As alluded above, windows should help, or at least not hurt, your utility bills. Low-E coatings are one aspect of a window’s energy efficiency.

Single-paned glass has almost gone the way of the dodo unless you’ve chosen a high-end window coating. A more energy-efficient choice is the double-paned or triple-paned window. These windows feature a space between glass panes that can be filled with inert gases or left with plain air. The benefit here is the UV and infrared rays are slowed down in the space between panes.

Framing also affects your windows’ energy efficiency. For framing, wood still has the best insulative values. However, some homeowners opt for vinyl-clad or composite frames. Both utilize wood in their construction but add manufactured materials to make upkeep easier. Vinyl-clad frames feature a vinyl coating, while composites are made of wood fibers and resin.

3. Ventilating the Home

Getting back to window basics, the other feature homeowners expect from their windows is to provide proper ventilation. Naturally, certain windows, such as picture or clerestory, won’t do that because they’re not made to open. However, when you’re replacing main windows, keep in mind how you can open them to vent out a room or the whole house.

The two main mechanisms for opening a window are sliders and hinges. With sliding windows, the panes can go up and down or side to side. You can also choose whether both panes move or only the one. With sliding windows, half the opening always remains covered, so you don’t get quite as much ventilation.

Casement, awning, and hopper windows all utilize hinges to open. Casement windows open from the side. Awning windows pull up and out from top hinges, while hoppers tip down from bottom hinges. All three provide maximum ventilation, but they do require clearance for opening. Awning and hopper open inside, while casements can go either way — you have to choose at the time of buying.

Don’t choose windows by looks alone. Instead, ensure the replacement windows you pick will best serve the unique needs of your home and your lifestyle. Visit Arch Design when you’re ready to start exploring your window replacement options.

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