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Window Replacement in Alabama
In theory, replacing your windows sounds as simple as choosing durable, appealing products and hiring an installer. But, the numerous options of styles, glass, frames, and energy efficient features can leave you wondering where to start. This guide will walk you through the process of replacing unappealing, inefficient, or damaged windows with ones that work better for your Alabama home or business.
Benefits of Installing Replacement Windows in Alabama
If your windows are older than 15 or 20 years, they may contain cracks and leaks that lead to poor energy efficiency, causing you to waste money on heating and air conditioning and sacrifice indoor comfort. They can also diminish curb appeal and act as a stumbling block when it comes to selling your home. New windows, on the other hand, can optimize energy efficiency, raise your home’s value, and protect your biggest investment in life from damaging leaks and mold.
In addition to upgrading to sturdier and more efficient products, installing new windows also gives you the opportunity to add style or a new safety feature. Bay windows can increase square footage, or visually open up a room and give it a greater view of the outdoors. Installing windows on your exterior doors can add character and bring more light into your home. A quality egress window in the basement can be a potentially life-saving emergency exit. New windows are typically tested for forced entry and come with sturdy locks.
Newer windows also don’t require as much maintenance as older ones since the paint and hardware are more durable than those of outdated windows. Many come with lifetime warranties.
The Right Window Style, Frame, and Glazing for your Alabama Home
You may be tempted to look for the most affordable products to keep the costs of this sizeable home upgrade reigned in. Or you may want to buy the most extreme energy efficient windows on the market to cut down energy bills. But your home represents your tastes and your unique style, and the aesthetic of your property shouldn’t have to suffer for the sake of finding the cheapest materials or saving a bit per month on utilities. If the replacement windows are ultimately unappealing, you may find yourself replacing them again down the road, or not benefitting from the investment as much as planned when it comes time to sell.
Consider the following window styles and how they would fit into your home’s aesthetic:
- Light enhancing windows: Bay windows, bow windows, garden windows, and picture windows can work miracles when it comes to opening up a dark house. All of these styles incorporate multiple panes in one casement.
- Decorative windows: If you are looking to add an elaborate or decorative feature to your home, consider French casement windows, arched windows, or elliptical windows.
- Single hung and double hung: A single hung window includes a fixed upper sash and a lower sash that opens up for ventilation. A double hung window gives you the option of opening the upper or the lower sash.
The window frame material plays a role in both the appearance and performance of the window. Aluminum is lightweight, durable, and easy to maintain, but it conducts heat. Fiberglass is strong, has a versatile appearance, and can be insulated for extra heat protection. Vinyl is the most common material due to its moisture and weather resistance. Wood has a classic and beautiful appearance, but it is vulnerable to the weather and requires maintenance.
The number of panes is an important aspect of energy efficiency. Single paned windows offer the most sunlight, but the lowest energy efficiency. Double paned contain a layer of gas in between the panes that decreases heat transference and increases energy efficiency. Triple paned windows have three glass layers and therefore are the most efficient.
Understanding Window Ratings in Alabama
When it comes to choosing products, there are several ratings that can help you decide what will be most effective. Here are qualities you should look for and the ratings associated with them:
Ability to block and buffer heat – Windows play an important role in keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, which is why the “U-Factor” of your new windows is so important. This rating shows you how much heat is transferred, as well as the airflow and emissivity. The lower the U-Factor, the less heat is transferred and the better the quality.
Air leakage resistance – Poor insulation and air leaks are top offenders when it comes to poor energy efficiency. Blocking heat transfer isn’t enough – your windows need to prevent air leakage if you want to cut down on energy usage and costs. Look for low “air leakage” (AL) ratings.
The amount of light let in – Energy efficiency should certainly be a priority, but some energy efficient products end up blocking light. Windows are an important feature of your home because they bring the beauty of natural light into the space, so make sure you look for products with a high visual transmittance (VT) rating.
Effectiveness of shading – The solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) represents the fraction of solar radiation admitted through the window and the effectiveness of shading. If your main interest is keeping your home cool in the summer, you’ll want to look for a low SHGC.
Choosing the Right Windows for Alabama Weather
Humidity, heat, and copious rainfall are certainly worth factoring in if you are an Alabama homeowner looking to replace your windows. If the new products do not protect your home from the humid subtropical climate, this can easily lead to damage from moisture or an overworked air conditioning system.
Now that you’re more familiar with the rating systems and materials, you can figure out what products work best when it comes to keeping your home cool and dry on hot or humid days. A product with a low SHGC will be more effective at reducing your cooling load (versus a high SHGC, which signifies better heat collection in the winter). Vinyl is a durable material that resists moisture and doesn’t require much maintenance, if any. It can hold insulation, which means greater energy efficiency from the heat. Since wood is susceptible to weather damage and temperature fluctuations, this may not be the best option unless coated with vinyl. Likewise, aluminum’s heat-conducting properties may not make it the best choice for Alabama’s high summer temperatures.
Double or triple paned glazed windows are going to be most effective at keeping the heat out of your home, as opposed to single pane, which have higher heat transference. They will also minimize sound transference, which can be a plus during heavy rainfall and storms.
Hiring a Contractor for Alabama Window Installation
Whether you’re replacing windows or installing new ones, the project requires expertise when it comes to correct sizing, framing, insulation and weatherstripping, caulking, and glazing. Some projects, such as installing a bay or egress window, will require additional skills. The contractor should also inspect the area before installation and point out any potential problems, and should also have knowledge of how to increase energy efficiency.
Make sure to shop around for the right person, and get written estimates from at least three reputable contractors. These should outline the the costs of the labor and materials involved. Make sure that the contractor you choose is licensed by the Better Business Bureau – visit Alabama’s Better Business Bureau directory to verify.
Permits for Window Installation in Alabama
In order to obtain the proper permit for your new window or replacement window, you or the contractor need to file an application with the building department of your city government. If you don’t live within a city, contact your county offices. Generally, obtaining a permit for replacement windows will take less time than obtaining for windows installed on a new construction. It’s important that you obtain the requisite permit to ensure that your windows meet current safety and building regulations. Requirements vary depending on your area.
Other Factors to Consider When Replacing Windows in Alabama
Check out Energy.gov and the Database of State Incentives to learn about Alabama rebates and incentives for energy efficiency programs. Make sure to prepare your home for replacement window installation by clearing all window coverings and furniture away from the windows and giving the contractor clear access to any area that will need work done. Cover your furnishings and floors to prevent damage and make sure your family and pets are safe from debris.