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Window Replacement in Mississippi
Weeks of high temperatures, muggy weather, and regular tropical storms and hurricane winds mean Mississippi homes have to do a lot more than just look pretty. Particularly, windows here have to be as functional as they are beautiful, and that means selecting the right type for your area’s climate. Meanwhile, a high efficiency window can also cut costs on air conditioning—a must during The Magnolia State’s seemingly endless summers. This guide will help you select the right type of glass, frames, and insulation for your area, as well as giving you some information about incentives available in your locale, how to select a local contractor, and obtain permit.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Mississippi
Although not a complicated job for an experienced workman, a window replacement is nonetheless beyond the average homeowner’s skill and expertise. Replacements require knowledge about manufacturer guidelines, area building codes, and safety best practices, so they’re usually better left to the pros, unless you are familiar with window repair work. A licensed contractor can ensure that the job is done safely and legally.
When you make your window selection, it’s wise to consider your home’s climate—and certain features that can reduce your household energy consumption and lower your utility bills. Homeowners often lose heating and cooling through outdated, inefficient windows, so investing in insulation and climate-appropriate glazings can help reduce that air leakage, ultimately saving you money. In fact, if you decide to purchase certain energy efficient or insulated windows, you may be made eligible for local incentives and loan programs. For instance, Mississippi Power offers a low-interest financing program for homeowners who purchase energy-saving windows. Additionally, Southern Pines Electric Power Association’s Comfort Advantage program, Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association’s Comfort Advantage program, Coast Electric Power Association’s Comfort Advantage program, and Entergy’s Residential Solutions program all offer their customers rebates for installing energy-efficient windows in their homes. Many local governments and utility providers have similar programs, so it’s definitely worth it to do your homework before your buy.
A window replacement won’t take an experienced contractor very long—just a few hours or less is all they usually need to complete this project. However, there are certain complications that can add hours to the project, including whether you will be making adjustments to the size of the window and window opening in your wall, or whether you have storm panels installed over your windows that will need to be taken down before the project can proceed.
Hiring a Contractor for Mississippi Window Installation
Unless you have the name of a contractor who has come recommended from a friend or acquaintance, it’s a good idea to gather a few different estimates before hiring a worker. Usually, at least three is sufficient. Ask each contractor to break out your estimates in terms of labor, material costs, and other expenses—that way you’ll know where your money is going.
You shouldn’t necessarily just choose the contractor with the best rates—ask your contractor questions to gauge their experience, and request a few references. A qualified contractor will be happy to help you with both. Ask to see each candidate’s state license (you can also verify this yourself using the Mississippi State Board of Contractors License Search tool. Lastly, don’t discount the value of your own intuition. Your contractor should be someone you trust, who possesses good communication skills and responds to your questions. If your contractor doesn’t exude these qualities, they may not be the right person to hire, no matter how cutthroat their rates.
Once you decide which contractor to go with, they should provide you with a full contract that matches the amounts quoted in your earlier estimates. Review the contract to ensure that this is true. Ask the contractor to explain any portions of the contract where you have questions, and if a deposit is required, make sure you understand which portion of the work this down payment covers. Lastly, ask for a copy of the completed contract for your records.
Permits for Window Installation in Mississippi
Permits are usually administered by your local building department, and local municipal governments are generally allowed to make their own regulations for permitting and zoning. Whether or not you’ll be required to pull a permit for a window replacement depends upon the requirements set forth by your local government, so check with your local building department for the details before beginning your project. Permitting offices may require you to submit additional materials along with your application, including proof of your homeowner’s insurance, plans showing the proposed changes, or copies of the manufacturer’s brochure for the windows. If you require assistance completing the application, generally your contractor can help you fill it out, especially the technical sections.
In Mississippi, there may be requirements in place that determine what windows you can purchase, particularly when it comes the window’s wind load design. Ask your local building department for the specifics of any such regulations, so you can make sure you purchase a window that is appropriate for your area.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Mississippi
Before installation, there are a few preparative measures you can make around your home to make the project proceed smoothly:
- Clear the wall of window treatments and nearby wall hangings.
- Trim back foliage that may be covering the window area.
- Move furniture and rugs aside to clear a path from the front door to the window.
- Deactivate security systems temporarily.
- Keep pets and children out of the work area to prevent injuries.
Mississippi’s Climate Concerns for Windows
With storms hitting regularly off the Gulf coast, Mississippians’ windows need to be strong enough to stand up to extreme weather. Many area governments require residents to purchase windows designed to withstand certain wind speeds or pressure loads, or glass that has been designated as shatter-proof. Your local building department should be able to provide the specifics of the rules for your area.
Meanwhile, you’ll also want to make sure your windows can keep you comfortable, and your home energy-efficient, all year long. With Mississippi’s regular heat and humidity, that means that one measurement will be of particular importance when you’re shopping for new windows: the product’s solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) reviews window products and designates this rating, along with other measurements. The SHGC measures how well a window resists solar radiation, or in other words, how well it shades your home’s interior. SHGC ratings will be listed on the product’s labeling or on the brochure that comes with the window, and falls somewhere between 0 and 1. In Mississippi, look for a product with a SHGC of 0.27 or less—the lower the SHGC, the less heat allowed in.
If you live in the very southernmost part of the state, or if you’re hoping to save the most money on your utility bills, purchase a product with an SHGC no greater than 0.25. In fact, you can make sure that the window you choose has superior energy efficiency by looking for the ENERGY-STAR logo on the outside of the window’s label. This logo means that the window has been reviewed by the EPA and has been determined to demonstrate the very high efficiency, so you know that you’ll be purchasing a product that will reduce your energy consumption. Purchasing these products is sometimes an eligibility requirement for incentives and loan programs, as well.
Understanding Mississippi Window Ratings
A window’s SHGC is one way to understand how it will perform once installed in your home, but there are other measurements that are important too. They are:
- U-factor: A rating between 0 and 1 that indicates how well a window insulates your home’s interior. Mississippi households should purchase a window with a U-factor that is lower than 0.30.
- Air Leakage (AL): A measure that indicates how much air flow is allowed through the window. Energy efficient windows should have an AL of no greater than 0.30.
- Visual Transmission (VT): VT helps you understand how much light is allowed to filter through the window into your home.
Window Styles and Frames for a Mississippi Property
Windows come in a wide variety of styles and can be framed with several different materials, which mean more decisions when you’re purchasing. Here are the basic differences between several popular window styles:
- Arch top: A decorative window with a large, rounded top.
- Bay window: Several panels form a projection outside the window’s outer envelope for a perfect window seating area.
- Box windows: Grouped in panels of three or five, these small-paned windows add a decorative touch to a home.
- Double hung: Two operable sashes make this window highly functional, as it can be opened from the top or the bottom of the window.
- Elliptical: A large half or quarter-circle-shaped window.
- French casement: Two vertical panels open outward from a vertical center line, similar to a French door.
- Picture windows: A large, single pane of glass makes this window perfect for beautiful views, although not very energy-efficient.
- Single hung: A very classic window type, single hung windows have an operable lower sash that can be raised above the upper.
Window frames are an important part of a home’s wind-resistance and strength, so picking the right type for your area’s climate is key:
- Aluminum: Strong and extra-tough, aluminum windows can also conduct heat into homes on hot days.
- Composite: For historic homes or homeowners who crave the natural look of wood, composite frames make an ideal choice. They contain wood fibers mixed with synthetic materials for a substance that’s more durable and lower-maintenance.
- Fiberglass: Sturdy, durable, and low-maintenance.
- Vinyl: Fade-resistant, durable, and can naturally insulate a home from drafts.
- Wood: Adds an authentic note to a home, but is also subject to warping, decay, and damage from moisture.
Glass Options for Mississippi Windows
Windows can also be combined with insulation for maximum energy efficiency, or coated to keep air conditioning working well. Here are the details of those options:
- Single-pane windows: Leaky and inefficient so they are generally not used in modern homes. If you do choose to install them in your home, make sure to add storm panels over the glass for extra protection.
- Double-pane windows: Contain a layer of inert gas trapped between two layers of glass panes, which insulates a home, keeping air conditioning more efficient.
- Triple-pane windows: Have yet another layer of gas and another set of glass panes to keep homes extra insulated. They may be more insulated than homes in Mississippi need.
- Low-E glass: A microscopically-thin layer coated on window glass, that reflects both heating and cooling back into a home, keeping both more efficient.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Mississippi
New windows in your Mississippi home can help improve your home’s curbside appeal and add to your home’s natural beauty. It can also reinforce and protect the interiors from winds and rain brought on by extreme weather conditions, and even help you use less AC, which can save you money during those long Mississippi summers.