Q: We are considering replacing some or all of our windows to high performance, where should we begin?

A: Replacing some or all of your windows can easily cost thousands of dollars. A good place to start is “The Consumers Guide to Buying Energy Efficient Windows and Doors” it’s an excellent source of information. This will help you understand the basics of windows and doors, styles and features, to more detailed information on vinyl extrusions, Low E coatings, gas fills, spacers, as well as installation methods. Once you have familiarized yourself with this information you will be better able to access the quotes you receive.

Q: Should I have my windows installed inside my old frames or have the frames replaced?

A: If your home was built in the 80's or 90's you should consider removing the old frames: Most existing wood window frames have very little or no insulation between them and the frame of the house. Having high performance windows installed on such frames is really only doing half the job, as cold air will still penetrate your home around the wood frame. You will lose a significant amount of glass area by having a new vinyl window installed on an existing wood frame. Existing frames are not shimmed to support your new vinyl window, which will cause it to sag in the future, resulting in problems with drafts and leaks with your new window. If you choose to have your new windows installed with a full frame tear out you will have eliminated the 3 problems stated above. You will also eliminate the bulky look of the aluminum capping that is used to cover over wood that remains.

Q: What is Low E Glass?

A: Low-E glass stands for low emissivity glass. It is a technologically advanced, insulating glass that improves energy efficiency by reducing the transfer of heat or cold through windows. Coatings are microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on glass surface to reduce the U-factor by suppressing the radiant transfer of energy (heat and cold).

Q: What is Argon Gas?

A: An odorless, colorless, tasteless, invisible, non-toxic gas used to replace the air inside the sealed units to reduce thermal transfer. It is six times heavier than air. Since argon gas is denser than air and is not in continuous motion like air, the transference of energy (heat and cold) is greatly reduced. In short argon gas provides extra insulation.

Q: Everyone talks about their “Spacer” why is this so important?

A: A spacer is the material, which bonds 2 pieces of glass together, creating an insulated glass unit or"sealed unit". A good spacer can improve the efficiency of a sealed unit by up to 20%, reducing the transfer of cold from the outer to the inner pane. A warmer inside pane means greatly reduced condensation. A poor spacer (usually metal) allows for the transfer of cold to the inside pane, meaning more condensation. This moisture must drain and usually ends up under the sealed unit. When water freezes below an insulated glass unit it can cause stress on the unit resulting in seal failure (the bond between the 2 panes of glass is broken). Your sealed unit has now lost its insulation value. You now have 2 choices, to pay to have this unit replaced or to live with "foggy" uninsulated glass. *Look for a high efficiency spacer with Warm Edge Technology, and a Lifetime warranty.

Q: How is it possible for a window contractor to offer 40% off my window order?

A: Beware of any window dealer offering huge discounts. Often they have inflated their prices to make an inferior window seem like a good deal. If possible try to obtain 2 or more quotes on the same brand of window, making it obvious which discounts are genuine.