I'm very interested in making my home more energy efficient, both for the environment and for cost savings. I've been thinking about installing new windows but I'm feeling overwhelmed by the choices available. What are the most important things I should consider when looking at a window installation?
Nicoletta V. ~ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I am going to start this response with how important it is to familiarize yourself with your local building codes and how they pertain to windows. Egress is a very important issue when it comes to windows in bedrooms, and retrofit windows can affect this. A retrofit window can reduce window size 3" in width and 2" inches in height, enough to disqualify a new retrofit window from meeting egress requirements. Tempered glass is also very important, and should be installed in accordance with your local building codes. Many old windows do not have tempered glass where they should, so plan accordingly for your new windows.
Finally, you will need to determine if you want retrofit windows or new construction windows. New construction windows have pros and cons as do retrofit windows. The pros of new construction windows are that you will get a more custom finished look; they are less leak prone, there is no loss of glass area, and you will be able to fix any problems that an old window may have had with its original installation. The cons, they are more expensive to install, they take longer to install, and they will cause some damage to exterior trim details and siding when removing the old windows.
The pros of retrofit windows: they are less expensive to install, they are faster to install, and they do not damage the exterior of your house. The cons: less glass area, often times look cheaper, and they tend to be more leak prone.