Replacement Windows: Aluminum vs. Vinyl
LESLIE: Taking a call from Greg in Louisiana about windows. How can we help you?
GREG: Yes. I’ve got a house that’s about 25 years old and I’ve got aluminum windows; single-pane glass. But I know – I just feel the …
TOM: Sorry to hear that. (chuckling)
GREG: Oh, yeah. And I can just feel the cold coming through. But I’m wanting to replace my windows. I go out on new construction sites, like on custom homes, and I see that they’re using aluminum windows, double-pane glass, but I’ve gotten a quote from a window company; vinyl windows with argon gas. So I’m kind of torn between what do I want to do.
TOM: No question. I would not use a metal window. I would use a vinyl window.
LESLIE: They’re just going to be freezing.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, the vinyl windows are really the hot ticket today and, in your case, you’re probably going to be looking at vinyl replacement windows. The one thing I would check, because it can very confusing when you’re trying to choose an appropriate vinyl window, is to find out if the window is Energy Star rated. That is very, very important. That’s going to give you a standard by which to measure all of the different types of windows that you are looking at. If it’s Energy Star rated it’s going to be a very good quality window.
GREG: Well, yes. But see, I can get a choice between just going in with the low-e with just the air-filled and then versus another window – there again, low-e – but with argon gas.
TOM: Well, low-e is a coating that’s on the interior of the glass that’s going to reflect UV radiation. That’s a definite. I would definitely get low-e glass. As far as the type of gas that’s used to insulate, there’s different types of gas. There’s argon, there’s krypton, there’s different formulations of gas. And all the window manufacturers have their own secret formula for whatever they put in between the glass. That’s why I say that if you are buying a window that’s Energy Star rated then you can fairly compare them side by side with other windows.
TOM: So don’t be confused by how every manufacturer manufactures their window. They’re all going to be slightly different. But if they’re Energy Star rated then you can expect they’re going to be at least fairly comparable and then, from there, you can decide on the color and the size and the features and all that sort of thing. But make sure the window is Energy Star rated.
Another thing to check is the National Fenestration Rating Council label.
LESLIE: The NFRC.
TOM: Yeah, there’s a label on all of the glass that will give you information on how much light goes through and how much radiation can bounce off of them because of the coating. And it’s a standard label; NFRC label. It’s another way to compare apples to apples. It’s very confusing to buy windows. That’s why the easiest thing to do is to use the Energy Star rating.
And if you want more information on those windows, go to the EPA website which is called EnergyStar.gov. You can get some tips right there. OK, Greg?
GREG: Very good, then. Great.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.