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Information About Window Replacement in Michigan
Straddled across four of the Great Lakes, Michiganders experience their fair share of wind, rain, snow, and ice. Homes here have to be built to withstand those fierce winter storms, and that goes for windows, too. That’s why when you’re considering a window replacement in the Great Lakes State it’s best to consider how the climate will factor into your ultimate selection of window glass, insulation, and frames. Certain features can even make your home’s heating more effective and efficient, which can reduce your energy costs overall. Read this guide to learn about the basics of window replacement in your area—from energy efficiency measures you can take, to the best way to select a contractor to what permits you’ll need to pull—everything you need to get you project done quickly and seamlessly.
What to Know About Window Installation in Michigan
Window replacements are usually not a very complex job, particularly if you’re not making changes to the size of the window. However, that being said, most homeowners would do best to hire a licensed contractor to do the work for them—windows must be installed according to building codes and manufacturer guidelines for safety purposes. An experienced contractor will be able to ensure that your project is above board and will keep you and your family safe and secure.
The right window can also significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs. Air leaks in windows often result in an increase in energy consumption, driving up utility bills—but windows that are rated for proper insulation and energy efficiency can even potentially reduce energy spending by 25 percent. Additionally, when you decide to make efficiency improvements to your home, many area programs will help you mitigate those project costs. In fact, Michigan state offers its own loan program, known as Michigan Saves, to state residents who install energy-saving technologies like efficient windows. Meanwhile you may also qualify for additional rebates as well from your local utility. DTE Energy’s Insulation and Windows Program, Consumers Energy Energy Savings Solutions Program, and Efficiency United’s Energy Efficiency Program all offer significant cash rebates for customers who install new windows, so it can really pay to check with your area utility and local municipal government to see what programs might be available to you.
A window replacement generally won’t take long to complete—just a few hours is enough for your average contractor. However, if you are making structural changes to the wall opening or need to uninstall storm panels before putting in the new window, the project could take longer.
Hiring a Contractor for Michigan Window Installation
Finding the right contractor means doing your homework, so be sure to obtain at least three different estimates before deciding on one. Besides just giving you a feel for the average going rates for this work in your area, multiple quotes will allow you to feel out your potential contractors differences in communication and experience. The contractor you select for your project should be able to answer all your questions clearly, and should maintain a pleasant and professional demeanor, as well as being accessible when you contact them.
Meanwhile, Michigan has a fairly in-depth licensing program for contractors, requiring all builders to hold a state license in order to operate in your state. Ask contractors to see their license before hiring them, or verify it yourself by calling the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department. Also request a list of references—a good contractor will be happy to oblige.
Once you select your contractor, they should provide you with a full contract. Make sure to review it thoroughly to ensure that the details match the information quoted in your estimate. Ask your contractor to explain any clauses in the contract that don’t make sense to you, and if they ask you for a deposit, make sure you’re clear on which portion of the project that deposit will cover. Request a completed copy of the contract after both parties have signed.
Permits for Window Installation in Michigan
Permit requirements for window replacements vary from place to place, so you’ll need to check in with your local building department before beginning your project to see if a permit is required. Also ask if there is any supplementary materials you’ll need to submit along with your application—some areas require you to turn in window specifications, plans detailing the project, or copies of your homeowners insurance. If the application is especially technical, the contractor you hire should be able to help you complete these portions.
Some areas may abide by energy codes or have in place weatherization requirements that will determine the type of window you can choose from, so make sure to ask if there are any product requirements, as well.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Michigan
A window replacement project will proceed a lot more smoothly if you do a few things to ready your home for the contractors. Namely, you should:
- Take down window treatments and wall hangings like artwork and photos on the wall surrounding the window.
- Trim back tree branches, shrubs, and other foliage that may be in the way of the window.
- Move furniture and rugs away from the area and place drop cloths on floors to protect them from debris.
- Temporarily deactivate window sensors on your home security system.
- Secure children and pets in a room or area away from the construction.
Michigan’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Due to the extreme lake effect weather, preparing a home to withstand freezing temperatures and high winds is key. Window glazings, insulation, and reinforced frames can all help protect your home from the elements. Window glazing, in particular, can help insulate your home and let in solar heat that can offset heating costs. The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) tests windows for various measurements and rates their performance so that buyers can understand how they’ll perform once installed.
In a Michigan home, one measurement is of particular importance: the window’s U-factor. The U-factor is a rating between 0 and 1 that indicates how well a window’s glazing insulates your home. A lower rating will provide better insulation and keep your home’s energy costs low. Look for a window with a U-factor no higher than 0.30. If you’re looking for superior energy performance, however, look for a measurement that’s even lower—0.25 or lower, for instance.
The U-factor is usually listed on the product’s label or in the manufacturer’s pamphlet included with the window. Look here to see if the product bears the ENERGY-STAR logo, as well. This certification means that this window meets the minimum requirements set forth by the EPA for energy efficiency, and it can also make you eligible for area incentives as well.
Understanding Michigan Window Ratings
Besides the U-factor, there are several other industry ratings that can help you understand how the windows will affect your home. These are those measurements:
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): A measurement between 0 and 1 that indicates how much solar heat a window allows into your home—a higher measurement will let in more heat. In colder climates, like Michigan’s, a higher SHGC may be an effective passive heating method.
- Air Leakage (AL): Air leakage indicates the air circulation the window allows in your home. In Michigan, an AL of 0.30 or lower is ideal to keep homes from becoming too drafty.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This is the measurement that tells how much light is allowed into your home.
Window Styles and Frames for a Michigan Property
Beyond the window glass, there are many options for your window’s style and frames that can affect your home’s overall appearance—and help with insulation as well. Here are some of the most popular window models:
- Arch top: An arch top window is made of a tall rectangular panel topped with a decorative rounded arch.
- Bay window: A collection of windows that project outward into a window seat.
- Box windows: These windows are usually hung in groups of threes or fives, and contain many small square panes.
- Double hung: Double hung windows have a lower and upper sash, and can be opened from either side.
- Elliptical: A large half or quarter circle-shaped window that is great as a decorative accent.
- French casement: These windows open outward from a vertical center line, much like French doors.
- Picture windows: A large single-paned glass window that provides a great spot for taking in a beautiful view.
- Single hung: A single hung window has two sashes: an operable lower sash that can be slid above the upper portion to open it.
Frames can also play a significant part in your home’s efficiency, comfort, and appearance. Here are the details of those options:
- Aluminum: Aluminum frames are extra sturdy and strong for reinforcement during extreme weather events.
- Composite: For homeowners that crave the authenticity of wood, composite is made from natural wood fibers mixed with synthetic materials for a frame that is more durable than wood.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a sturdy material that can be combined with insulation for good weatherization.
- Vinyl: Vinyl is naturally insulative, sturdy, durable, and UV-resistant.
- Wood: Wood can lend your home an authentic air, but also needs to be replaced frequently due to degradation of the material—particularly in moisture-prone areas.
Glass Options for Michigan Windows
Windows can also be hung to maximize insulation and energy efficiency. These include insulation systems and coatings like the following varieties:
- Single-pane windows: Single-pane windows have a single pane of window with little to no insulation, and are generally not used in modern homes. They are not recommended for Michigan.
- Double-pane windows: An inert layer of gas trapped between two window panes keeps double-pane windows insulated and keeps out drafts.
- Triple-pane windows: For very windy and cold areas, triple-pane windows come with an extra layer of insulating gas to add extra protection to homes.
- Low-E glass: Low-emissivity glass is a transparent coating added to window surfaces to reflect infrared heat back into homes, keeping your heating and cooling more effective.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Michigan
New windows come with many benefits: an improved curbside appeal, which can raise property values and fetch more for your home on the market if you’re thinking of selling soon. Meanwhile, efficient models can reduce heating and cooling costs significantly, saving you money and keeping your home more comfortable and pleasant, even in the dead of winter.