Living in warm climates, you can benefit from having highly efficient, dual-paned windows to keep a lot of the heat and sun out of your home.
In homes 20 years and older, you may already have dual-paned windows, but they won’t measure up to today’s models. Homes that are even older can have windows that are especially vulnerable in very hot as well as very cold climates.
Of course, when you buy new windows for your home, it can be a very expensive investment. You want to buy carefully. It doesn’t pay to buy cheap windows. They will fail to do the job you expect and may also deteriorate quickly.
The good news about the cost of new windows is that they are an excellent investment. According to recent Cost vs. Value Reports, published annually in Remodeling magazine, if you install new windows in the Phoenix area, you can recoup 80 percent of their value when you sell your house. It’s a feature that buyers really want.
Here are ideas on what windows to buy in Arizona, plus advice on keeping down costs.
1 | The material in the frames is a key factor when you buy.
My favorite choice has always been wooden windows that have aluminum cladding. That means the wood frame is sheathed in aluminum on the outside to protect the wood from rain and damage by the sun. The wood inside of the house provides more insulation in summer and winter. It won’t conduct heat or cold from the aluminum. You can stain or paint the wood frame inside as well. The aluminum outside can be painted or not.
But wood clad with aluminum is costly. A very large wooden window with aluminum cladding can cost thousands just by itself – a choice most homeowners may not make.
Today’s fiberglass framed windows, greatly improved over the years, fall into a mid-priced range, perform well and are an attractive alternative.
Pella Windows, for example, has its line of Impervia windows featuring an engineered fiberglass composite that withstands high heat and subzero cold. It resists warping in summer and will not grow brittle in colder climates. The powder-coated finish comes in a choice of colors that make the interior of the window look like painted wood.
The lowest-priced option is vinyl framing. But if you’re buying vinyl you need to be extra careful due to the inferior quality of some products. Poorly made vinyl windows can quickly discolor and deteriorate in a hot, dry climate. Only buy high-quality vinyl that has a strong warranty.
2 | No matter where you live, you generally need dual-paned windows with some type of gas – usually argon -- piped in-between panes.
Some people think that if they buy triple-paned windows they will do even better on utility costs and feel even cooler in summer. But the extra savings that homeowners can get from triple-paned windows as compared to dual-paned will be very, very small. Dual-paned windows do just as well in cold climates as they do in hot climates. The main reason for installing triple-paned windows is if your home is in a very noise area with heavy traffic. Triple panes can be very effective in making a home much quieter.
3 | You want a low emissivity (low-e) coating on your windows.
This means one of the panes in your windows will have a thin coating of microscopic layers of metallic oxides. You won’t see the coating, but it will help protect your home from ultra-violet rays that can burn skin, fade carpets and damage furniture. Today’s coatings differ from those in the past that could “tint” the view outside your window. Your view will not be affected by the new coatings.
4 | Upgrading from single-paned windows provides a quicker return-on-investment than those replacing windows on a 10-year-old home with dual-paned windows that are old and tired.
Estimates are that you can save up to 35 percent each month on energy bills. However, most of us will not recoup our entire investment in new windows just from paying less for cooling and heating. Check the energy rating on the windows you buy at www.energystar.gov to find out what you might save on your bills.
5 | New windows can have other benefits.
They will block the amount of dust that infiltrates your home. Desert areas have a tremendous amount of dust in the air. Whether it is a simple dust storm or a major haboob, you will notice a difference in your home’s cleanliness after your next storm. Depending on the glass package you buy, you should not have to use external sun screens anymore, allowing your new windows to bring all the natural light in, but keeping the heat out, according to Adam Homer, sales manager with Pella Windows & Doors Mountain West.
6 | Order wisely and you can save.
Obviously, cost depends on how many windows you replace, how big they are, and the type of window you choose. If you want bigger windows than you have now, your bill will be bigger. Doing windows the same size is cheaper. You can save more by asking for “pocket windows.” That means having windows installed that are slightly smaller than what you have now. The downside with pocket windows is that you lose some glass, but the upside is less construction mess.