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Information about Window Replacement in Montana
Montana’s big skies come with a wide variety of weather and temperatures, meaning that homes here have to work to keep interiors cool during the summer and warm in the winter. Energy-efficient windows can help give a boost to HVAC in Montana homes, making heating and cooling more efficient overall. This guide will help you choose the right windows for your area’s climate, no matter what kind of weather comes up.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Montana
A window replacement is typically not a very complicated job—if you have the right expertise. Homeowners unfamiliar with window repair should probably elect to hire a licensed contractor to do the job for them. That way, they can ensure that windows are installed safely, and in accordance to area building codes.
If you decide to purchase windows with your home’s energy efficiency in mind, you may be eligible for certain rebates, as well. Many local utilities or municipal governments offer cost-saving programs for homeowners who choose to install energy-efficient equipment in their houses, including windows. For instance, Flatland Electric Cooperative offers its customers six dollars for every square foot of energy-efficient windows installed in a home through its residential rebate program. That can definitely put a dent in the costs of your new windows, so it can really pay to investigate incentive programs in your area before you buy.
A window replacement is not a complicated job for a professional—several hours should be all that’s required. However, if you need to deinstall storm panels before beginning the project, or if you will be making structural changes to the wall opening surrounding the window, the project length could be extended.
Hiring a Contractor for Montana Window Installation
It’s best to gather a few contractor quotes before signing a contract—at least three different estimates is advisable. Ask each contractor to break out their quotes into labor, materials, and other expenses.
Additionally, dig a little bit into your contractor’s qualifications. Ask them to provide several references—most contractors will have them ready for homeowners who ask. Also verify that your contractor holds a license to operate in your state. Ask the contractor to see their license or use the Montana Department of Labor and Industry Contractor search tool.
Choosing a contractor is about more than just finding the cheapest rates. You want the person you hire to have good communication skills, to be knowledgeable about the project, and to be responsive to your needs and inquiries. If a contractor falls short of your expectations in any one of these areas, don’t sign with them.
Once you decide which contractor you’d like to hire, ask them for a full contract, and verify that the details and amounts match what was discussed in the estimate. If something is off, don’t sign—instead, ask the contractor for clarification. Additionally, if the contractor asks you to provide a deposit, make sure you’re clear which parts of the job the deposit amount covers. Once you’ve signed, ask for a copy of the completed contract for your records.
Permits for Window Installation in Montana
Whether or not a permit is required will depend upon the regulations in effect in your area, so it can vary from place to place. Contact your local building department to see if you need a permit before beginning your project. Permit offices may also require supplemental materials along with the completed application, items like copies of your homeowners insurance, plans showing the proposed changes to the home, and the window manufacturer’s brochure. If there are technical questions on the application, ask your contractor to help you complete them.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Montana
Before your contractor arrives on installation day, make sure to take the following measures to make the project come off without a hitch:
- Clear the wall of window treatments like blinds, shades, and curtains.
- Remove nearby wall hangings like artwork and photos.
- Trim foliage around the window area.
- Move furniture and roll nearby rugs to create an unobstructed path from the front door to the window.
- Temporarily deactivate security systems.
- Keep pets and children away from work area to avoid injuries.
Montana’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Windows in Montana homes need to be flexible enough to handle a wide range of temperatures. That means choosing a glazing that’s appropriate for both cold and hot weather. Glazings are reviewed by the National Fenestration Council (NFRC) and are assigned ratings based on how they performed during testing. In particular, two ratings will be important to your home: the window’s solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and its U-factor.
SHGC measures the amount of solar heat that is allowed through the window. Ratings fall somewhere between 0 and 1—the lower the rating, the less heat allowed through the window. In Montana, an SHGC between 0.42 and 0.32 is ideal, although if you have significant cooling costs, a lower measurement may be called for.
U-factor, on the other hand, indicates how well the window glass insulates your home’s interior. Very cold homes should opt for a lower U-factor—that will keep your home warmer and better insulated. Ideally, look for a measurement that is 0.30 or lower, or for superior energy efficiency, seek out a product with a U-factor lower than 0.25.
Both of these measurements will be listed on the product’s packaging, or inside the manufacturer’s brochure. Along with this measurement, check to see if your window bears the ENERGY-STAR logo, a certification that lets you know the product is approved by the EPA for maximum energy efficiency. Purchasing products with this label can also make you eligible for rebates and incentives.
Understanding Montana Window Ratings
There are other measurements window manufacturers use to let you know how a window will perform once it’s installed in your home. They are:
- Air Leakage (AL): This rating tells you how much air flow is allowed into your home through the window. Look for an AL of no greater than 0.30 for superior energy efficiency.
- Visual Transmission (VT): VT indicates the amount of light that is allowed to through the window.
Window Styles and Frames for a Montana Property
Selecting a window means also choosing a style and frame material that match your home’s needs. The following are popular choices for window styles:
- Arch top: A rectangular base with a large, rounded top.
- Bay window: Several panels project outwards in this window to form an area for seating and storage.
- Box windows: These small paned windows are grouped in panels of three or five.
- Double hung: Double hung windows have two operable sashes so that they can be opened from the bottom or the top.
- Elliptical: A large half or quarter-circle-shaped window that is great as a decorative accent.
- French casement: Similar to a French door, a French casement window contains two vertical panels that open outward from a vertical center line.
- Picture windows: A large, single pane of glass hung to appreciate a view.
- Single hung: Single hung windows have an operable lower sash which can be pushed over a stationary upper sash to open it.
Window frames can also affect your home’s strength in the face of extreme weather and its overall insulation. Here are the various options:
- Aluminum: Tough and durable, aluminum windows also conduct heat into homes during warmer temperatures.
- Composite: For homeowners who desire the authentic feel of wood, contain wood fibers mixed with vinyl, making them more durable and lower-maintenance than wood.
- Fiberglass: Sturdy and durable, fiberglass can be combined with insulation for superior energy efficiency.
- Vinyl: The chemical composition acts as a natural insulator, and is durable and UV-resistant as well.
- Wood: Can be a high-maintenance material, as it needs to be replaced frequently due to warping and decay.
Glass Options for Montana Windows
Windows are often hung in “systems”—several panels combined with insulation that helps to reduce air leak. They can also be coated with energy-saving films that make them more efficient overall. Here are the details of those options:
- Single-pane windows: Generally not used in modern homes, due to their poor energy efficiency and lack of insulation.
- Double-pane windows: A layer of inert gas sandwiched between two layers of glass panes insulates the home’s interior.
- Triple-pane windows: Yet another layer of gas and another set of glass panes keeps homes extra insulated. Use them only in homes that experience regular cold weather.
- Low-E glass: Low-emissivity glass is a thin, transparent coating on window glass which reflects infrared heat back into a home, keeping both heating and cooling more efficient.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Montana
Windows have many benefits, for beautification and financial savings. The right window can boost your home’s property values, add curbside appeal, and make your home more marketable if you’re thinking of selling soon. They can also reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 25 percent, and make you eligible for cost-mitigating incentives. Meanwhile, you’ll stay feel more comfortable in your home, no matter the weather.