A Window Buyer’s Guide

Filed in Construction by on February 15, 2014

Do your research before investing in new windows

Photo Courtesy Thermo-tech Premium Windows and Doors

Photo Courtesy Thermo-tech Premium Windows and Doors

The windows of a home reflect its soul – they reveal a bright and welcoming destination with a cozy, safe, restful appeal. Windows provide a portal to the landscape and natural surrounds that are stunningly beautiful season after season, year after year. And, ideally, those windows are also attractively designed to provide decades of energy efficiency. An investment for windows designed for Minnesota’s weather extremes is a purchase that will pay off in dollars and comfort, whether you’re buying new or replacements.

The following is a consumer’s guide to researching and buying new windows for your home so you can go into the process as a savvy consumer.

Shopping starts online

There are several area window manufacturers and dealers ready to provide information about their products; their websites are an excellent launching point to explore your window options.

For example, Minnkota Windows – based in Fargo – has 73 dealers across Minnesota. A handy online tool on the company’s website provides dealer location and contact information, as well as specifications for each window style that Minnkota makes. The site provides customer testimonials, quick links to brochures, color options and product fact sheets.

Photo Courtesy Thermo-tech Premium Windows and Doors

Photo Courtesy Thermo-tech Premium Windows and Doors

Like Minnkota Windows, Thermo-Tech Premium Windows and Doors – a family owned business in Sauk Rapids – has a website that offers a comprehensive look at the company’s replacement and new construction window products. The website displays a photo gallery, dealer locator tool and advice on things like the proper installation of your windows (the company strongly recommends contacting a professional to assist you with installation). Plus, most manufacturers’ websites include measuring and installation guides and videos, if you plan to tackle installation on your own.

Checking out the websites and learning the lingo will help simplify the shopping and decision-making process, making you an informed consumer.

The best piece of advice when window shopping? Brad Bushaw, general manager of Minnkota Windows, says, “You need to trust the people you’re dealing with. Purchasing from somebody you know, or from a company that has a long history, is the best option. Be cautious of low-price advertisements or ‘free window’ type ads. Of course companies can’t give windows away. This should be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. The quality of the product and the integrity of the company you are buying from should be of the utmost importance.”

Energy Efficient Option

When shopping for new or replacement windows, energy efficiency is likely your top priority. The following is a brief guide o the energy lingo you’ll encounter in researching what’s best for your home’s window needs:

Double or triple glazing:Double or triple glazed windows have a sealed space between the two or three panes of glass. The air in the space acts as an additional layer of insulation. Compared with a single pane, double glazing can cut heat loss nearly in half, and triple glazed windows save even more energy – but also cost more.

Photo Courtesy Thermo-tech Premium Windows and Doors

Photo Courtesy Thermo-tech Premium Windows and Doors

Low-E cost: According to Consumer Reports, clear glass allows larger amounts of radiant energy to pass through – heat in from the sun in summer, heat out from your house in winter. A low-E, or low emissivity, coating is a microscopically thin metallic film that acts something like a two-way mirror, reflecting heat back into the house in winter and blocking heat from the sun in the summer.

Gas-filled: Instead of air in the sealed space between the glass panes, gas-filled windows use argon, krypton or another inert gas. These gases are denser than air, so they provide better insulation. This option also has varying degrees to help block harmful ultra-violet light rays.

U-Factor: U-factor is the measure of a window’s ability to conduct heat. The lower the U-factor, the better a window can keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Window Design

An abundance of design options also wait you when choosing new or replacement windows – everything from awning and double-hung to single-slider to bow windows.

Design options for windows are too numerous to mention. Check out other homes and get an idea of the window design you like. Then go online for a wealth of design ideas and let local dealers help make it reality.

Tags: , ,