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Buying Windows in Portland, Oregon
Living in Portland, you know that energy efficiency has been a priority in your city for a long time. Since 1979, when the city founded the United State’s first energy conservation focused organization, Portland has been searching for creative and effective ways to help citizens embrace a more sustainable way of life.
One way you can embrace this vision is by installing energy efficient products in your home. If the time has come to replace your windows, understanding the essential role they play in keeping your energy consumption and utility bills low will help motivate you to find the windows best suited for your home.
When it comes to buying replacement windows, your search should be heavily influenced by two factors: your city’s home improvement regulations and the specific demands placed on your windows by the weather where you live.
You don’t have to do the research alone. If your windows have started to show tell-tale signs of age, such as becoming hard to operate or letting air leak into your home, use the information provided in this Portland window buying guide to help you seek out the best windows for your home.
How to Know When a Window Replacement is Necessary in Your Portland Home
Any window that has to withstand a climate like Portland’s is going to show its age sooner rather than later. If your windows receive full sun for most of the day, there is a high likelihood that they have warped over the years, resulting in windows that no longer seal properly when closed and take a lot of strength to open. Unfortunately, there is little repair work that can be done to combat this issue other than simply replacing it altogether. However, if your main issue is small patches of rotted wood, you can get a bit more life out of your windows by repairing them with epoxy. Be sure to properly inspect that you have thoroughly sealed all rotted areas and that there are no open gaps that would allow water to enter the walls of your home.
Even if your window frames are in good condition, that doesn’t mean that you are off the hook for a window replacement. Due to technological advances, treated glass used in modern windows is substantially more energy efficient, allowing for less heat transference and a more constant temperature within your home. The 2015 Remodeling Impact Report found that 61 percent of homeowners have a “greater desire to be home” since completing their renovation mainly because the level of comfort has increased so drastically. When you, then, factor in that homeowners typically see an increase of 80 percent of their renovation budget in their home’s property value, it’s easy to see just what a great investment a window replacement really is.
Finding Windows for the Climate in Portland
In Portland, the weather is mild for much of the year. During July, the hottest month of the year, the average high is 81 degrees. In January, the coldest month of the year, the average low is 36 degrees. Portland rarely receives severe weather of any kind. The average yearly rainfall is 35.98 degrees, which is right in line with the annual average of 37 inches in the United States. Portland only receives an average of 3 inches of snow each year, which is significantly less than the national average of 25 inches.
One climate related concern in Portland is the persistent heavy rains this area of the country receives. Some windows are better suited to resist condensation, so this is great place to start when looking for windows. On most new windows, you can find a National Fenestration Ratings Council label that rates the performance of the window. On that label, you will find a Condensation Resistance rating that measures performance of the window in high humidity regions. Windows are rated from 1 to 100 and a higher number indicates a better resistance to condensation.
On this label you will also find a U-Factor rating that measures how much heat can escape the home through the window. In their residential window replacement guide, the city of Portland requires that homeowners invest in windows with a U-Factor rating of no more than 0.40.
Complying with Portland Window Replacement Requirements
In an effort to promote energy efficiency in their community, the city of Portland has provided very clear information concerning window replacement guidelines for homeowners in a residential window replacement guide. Along with the guidelines provided above, this resource also explains when you are required to apply for a building permit.
If you are installing replacement windows identical in size to existing windows, you do not need to apply for a permit before installing new windows in your home. However, if you are installing a window where one did not previously exist or installing a window that is smaller or larger than the existing window, you will need to submit a building permit application before moving forward with the project.
If your window replacement project requires a permit, you can download a copy of the application online on the Development Services website. Your application can be submitted in person between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and on Thursdays between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The office is located on the first floor at 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97201. If you have more detailed questions about applying for a permit you can call the office directly at (503) 823-7300.
The state of Oregon requires that all contractors performing home improvement projects that exceed $1,000 in value carry a general contractor’s license. Before hiring a contractor for your window installation, ask them to provide proof that they are in full compliance with the state’s requirements. In addition to a license, Oregon requires contractors to carry general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance before they can perform an major home improvements on residential or commercial buildings in your state.
As a resident of Portland, Oregon, you have access to a wealth of information concerning the steps you can take to live a more sustainable life in your home. The city provides very clear information that will help your make energy efficient home improvements, including window replacements, on the Development Services website. Energy efficient windows that comply with ENERGY STAR® requirements not only benefit the environment, they have also been shown to lower monthly utility expenses by $57 to $460 over the course of a year.
Window Replacement Basics: What Makes a High-Quality Window?
Deciding on replacing your window on your Portland home is a big step to improve your home and increase its value. A window replacement in Oregon costs about $200 to $700 per window. Estimation changes depending on the materials you choose, the window type, the contractor fee, and the taxes involved.
With the estimated cost given above, it is smart to make sure that the window you choose is high-quality. Quality goes with the materials used. The government supports the Energy Star program, an initiative that determines if a product is high-quality and energy-efficient based on various criteria.
Here are some points that will tell you whether the window you choose to replace your old ones is of high quality.
Window Frame Types
To check if the frame is high-grade, check what the material used is. Is it vinyl, wood, or aluminum? Is it a combination of these materials or a composite? This factor is essential if you are going to have a Window Replacement in Portland as the climate in the area is very humid.
- Vinyl: Requires minimal maintenance, a heavy-duty material, excellent insulator, lowest cost
- Wood: Best design finish, superb insulation, higher cost
- Aluminum: Durable, best for windows with unconventional shapes, lightweight
- Combination: Manufacturers put together the best features of various product materials, but the benefits depend on your current house design and requirements.
- Composite: Recycled sawdust, can be designed to mimic the look of a wood window
Window Pane Types
There are four kinds of panes available. Each corresponds to the number of glass layers it has. According to the Energy Star criteria, the best kind of window panes is those with double glasses. These double-pane windows have air or gas in between the glass to increase the windows insulation ability, lower the outdoor noise, and decrease damage in case of impact.
An additional glass coating or glaze can further support insulation, which can significantly decrease your monthly utility bills. These two applications can also lower your exposure to ultraviolet rays, which can damage your furniture and other home appliances. For glass coating, it is best to choose the Low-E type, which is more reflective of the sun’s heat.
Window Spacers and Fillers
Window fills and spacers also affect the quality and energy-efficiency of your windows. As discussed above, panes that have multiple layers have air or gas, known as a fill, in between to improve the quality and efficiency of the window pane. Typically, a window fill can be argon or krypton. According to Energy Star, the fill must be colorless, have no odor, and insulate well.
A spacer, on the other hand, is something that keeps the panes away from each other. It prevents pane expansion and stress that can lead to glass tension. It also serves as additional prevention against moisture build-up, which can foster mold and insect infestation in your windows.
The quality of your window affects your daily home living more than you’ll notice. It provides a way for you to see the outdoors, which has proven health benefits. For this reason and many more, it is crucial to choose high-quality windows for your window replacement project.