Replacement Windows: All You Need to Know
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Mel in New York who seems thoroughly confused about replacement windows, judging by the question: vinyl with insulation; vinyl with insulation with aluminum; vinyl without insulation. Mel, what’s going on?MEL: I’m very confused. (Tom chuckles)LESLIE: Apparently.MEL: Depending on where you go to, you will get – pushing their products.TOM: Of course.MEL: Empty spaces in the vinyl frame could either be empty or have foam insulation inserted in it.TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep. Right. Right.MEL: And some of them have aluminum for rigidity. And each one is saying theirs is the best. (chuckles)TOM: Of course. So, how do we sort this out? Well, first of all, you’re correct in that this is nothing more than salesmanship. You know, every window manufacturer – and especially when you get into the replacement window business because not as many of the big boys are in that; you get a lot of smaller companies that are making their own windows or buying them from other jobbers and they all want to create features and benefits that are unique to their particular product. It makes it virtually impossible to compare them but, actually, that works to their advantage because the best salesman is going to win. So how do you know? Well, here’s what you need to do.First of all, there’s two things you want to look for. Number one – you’re not going to buy a window unless it’s Energy Star rated because that’s an independent verification right there. And number two – you’re not going to buy a window unless it has a National Fenestration Rating Council Label, NFRC. It’s a big, square label about, I don’t know, 4×6 on the window and it has a set of numbers on it. It’s going to tell you things like the U factor, the solar heat gain coefficient. These are all measures of energy efficiency: how much light gets through; how much heat stays in; that sort of thing. And only by comparing those numbers to each other are you able to make an intelligent decision as to what the best window is for you.Now, we have a guide that we wrote that is on our website. It’s on the homepage; I think it’s the second panel of the slide show. And it’s called “Your Guide to Replacement Windows” and it covers everything that you need to know when it comes to choosing a replacement window: all about the NFRC label; the hardware options; the style options and so on. I would advise you to go there, download that guide. It’s free. It’s actually a chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. We made it available for free on the website. And you can learn all of the different things that you should look for when it comes to choosing replacement windows. It’s a good time to do it because you get a tax credit right now of up to 1,500 bucks.But you need to make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. The window companies make it kind of hard to do that, especially the small ones. You work with a big company like Simonton Windows, who helped us put that guide together, you’re going to get a good-quality product that definitely meets the tax credit requirements. With some of these other companies though, it’s very, very difficult.