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Buying Windows in Grand Rapids, Michigan
If you are considering replacing the windows in your home in Grand Rapids, there are a few things you should know before getting started. First, windows are built to last for a minimum of ten years and many will last beyond 15 years. Replacing your windows prematurely is not a worthwhile investment, because the energy savings provided will not match the cost of window replacement for several years after they are installed. Instead, as a homeowner you should wait to buy new windows until your existing windows are 15 years or older, or have begun to show signs of poor performance such as air leaks and drafts or moisture collecting between the window panes.
The next thing you should know before replacing your windows is how the climate where you live should affect your window purchasing decisions. In order to increase the energy efficiency of your home, it is important to invest in windows that are specifically designed for the cold and snowy winters in Michigan.
Lastly, before moving forward with installation of your newly purchased windows, you must be sure your are complying with the window replacement guidelines put in place by your city’s government and that you have applied for a building permit if necessary.
In this window buying guide, we will outline the information you need to make smart window purchasing decisions and move forward with installation in your home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Prepare Your Home for Cold Weathers and Heavy Snowfall
Each year, Grand Rapids experiences cold and snowy winters, with an average low temperature of 18 degrees, and mild summers, with an average high of 83 degrees. Grand Rapids receives an average snowfall of 76 inches each year, over 50 inches more than the national average.
In order to simplify your search for the best windows for you climate, ENERGY STAR® places a National Fenestration Ratings Council label on new windows. This label includes a U-Factor rating that indicates how much heat can leave or enter your home through the window. Grand Rapids is located in the Northern Climate Zone, an area of the country known for long winters and short and mild summers. ENERGY STAR® guidelines suggest that, if you live in the Northern Climate Zone, you buy windows with a U-Factor Rating of no more than 0.27.
The ratings listed on the National Fenestration Ratings Council label are a great start for finding energy efficient windows for your home, but you will also want to consider the materials use to build your windows. A wood frame is the most efficient frame in cold climates, but it is also the most costly of materials used to build frames. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, consider fiberglass or vinyl frames. Both offer remarkable insulation, but cost significantly less than wood frames. The glass in your window also plays a role in maintaining the energy efficiency of your home, and a two layered pane with inert gas filling and low-e coatings is considered to be the best option for cold climates.
According to Ready.gov, the United States weather preparedness website, if you are a homeowner living in an area of the country that receives a significant amount of snow, installing storm windows will provide the added protection your home needs from the winter weather.
Applying for Permits and Hiring a Contractor in Grand Rapids
The city of Grand Rapids does not require homeowners to apply for a building permit when replacing their windows as long there are no changes being made the surrounding wall. If you will be installing windows that are a different size than your existing windows, and this requires you to make changes to the surrounding wall, you will need to submit a building permit application to the Department of Design and Development Services. A printable permit application can be found here and can be submit to the department directly at their offices at 1120 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.
If you plan to hire a contractor to install your new windows, the city suggests that any contractors making major renovations or repairs have a general contractor’s license that allows them to work in the state of Michigan. Additionally, it is important to protect yourself in case one of the contractor’s employees is hurt in an accident while working on your home. Because of this, you should always hire a contractor who carries both general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
Using the information provided above, you can find the windows most appropriate for the cold climate in Grand Rapids, and your choice could save you between $91 and $465 on heating and cooling your home each year. Decreasing your reliance on your HVAC system not only saves your money, it also decreases your consumption of energy created from non sustainable sources, allowing you to embrace a greener way of life.