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Buying Windows in New Hampshire
New Hampshire homeowners face many options after making the decision to update their windows. It can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to home renovation. If you find yourself in that situation, use this buying guide as a starting point to find a contractor, learn about permit requirements, and familiarize yourself with different types of windows available for your home.
New Hampshire Window Permits
Check your city’s municipal websites for building code permit requirements. They will tell you if you need a permit to repair a window, or add a new one to your home. If you have renovated your home in the past, make sure to review building code guidelines, as permit requirements may have changed since you last checked.
There may be some fees to pay when you apply for your window permit, however don’t let that deter you. Securing a permit for the new windows is one of the most important steps. It is also the most tempting step to skip. However, if it is discovered that you didn’t acquire the proper permit, you may be charged with a large fine and have to pause construction while you wait for your permit to be approved. Those delays are not worth it and can be easily avoided.
Finding a Contractor in New Hampshire
New Hampshire does not require its contractors to be licensed or have a certificate if they are installing windows, however it is suggested that you still research each contractor well. Check with the Better Business Bureau, ask friends for recommendations, and read client testimonials to learn about various window contractors in your area. Look into the insurance the contractor carries, and double check with your county as contractor requirements can change.
Before signing the contract, do make sure to read through it carefully. If there is anything you don’t understand, stop and ask your contractor. You don’t want to accidentally agree to something you don’t like, especially when it could potentially affect your home for many years.
New Hampshire Window Trends
Depending on your desired aesthetic, there are many window styles to choose from. Below are some of the more popular window styles:
- Awning windows– are windows that open out and up using a crank, most of the time.
- Bay windows– project outside of the home slightly. Can be comprised of any combination of single or double hung windows, picture windows or awning windows.
- Bow windows– are extremely similar to bay windows, but on a curved plane instead of straight across.
- Casement windows– offer good visibility and they open out from the hinge on the window frame. They can be opened using a crank or just pushed open.
- Garden windows– project outside the house more than bay windows, providing more natural light and allowing you to enjoy greenery, even during winter. They are scaled smaller than bay windows.
- Picture windows– don’t open open at all. They are considered the most energy efficient as they don’t have any hinges or openings.
- Single hung windows– are very common in most homes. They open vertically- bottom to top from.
- Double hung windows– differ only from single hung windows in that they open vertically both bottom to top, and top to bottom. This provides more options to maximize airflow.
New Hampshire Climate Considerations for Windows
New Hampshire enjoys short, cool summers and long, cold winters. Seasonal temperatures vary widely, which requires unique solutions to making your home as energy efficient as possible. Choosing the best combination of window frames and energy efficient windows will decrease your energy bill drastically.
But how can you tell if your window is energy efficient? Look for the stickers on the new window with National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) rating. These ratings are decoded below:
- U-Factor- measures the indoor heat that can escape from your home. This will come in handy during the winters, because the lower the U-Factor number, the warmer the home stays.
- Visible Transmittance (VT)- measures how much natural light comes in. High numbers mean a lot of light is let in, and low numbers mean not much light enters.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)- measures how much heat from the outside can enter your home through the windows. The lower the number, the less heat gets through these windows. As important during the summer as the U-Factor rating is during the winter.
- Air Leakage- essentially measures how drafty your windows will be. It measures how much air from the outside can enter your home.
In addition to getting the best ratings for your windows, it’s important to look for double or triple paned glass. Double paned windows add extra insulation thanks to argon gas that is inserted between each pane of glass. The argon gas adds another level of protection for your home against heat loss during the winter.
Triple pane glass offers another level of insulation, but also adds more weight. Check with your contractor to ensure the glass is not too heavy for the window in question.
Low-E glass coating, on the other hand, protects your home from thermal energy. It allows for the same amount of light to enter, but blocks harmful ultraviolet rays from coming in and fading furniture, wall paper and any art that has direct contact with the sun.
Energy Saving Window Frames in New Hampshire
Finally, look into the best window frame for your house- based on the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve and the energy efficient technology that is available to you. There are several options:
- Wood– provides fair insulation. However, wooden expand and contract depending on the weather. While they can be treated against moisture damage, wooden window frames still require a good deal of maintenance.
- Composite– resists moisture damage better than regular wood frames. However, because they are made of a composite of woods, some maintenance will still be necessary.
- Aluminum– very lightweight and durable. However, aluminum frames conduct heat which can increase energy bills during the summer.
- Vinyl– resistant to moisture, durable and doesn’t require much maintenance, which makes vinyl a popular framing choice. Because they are the same color throughout, if they are damaged or chipped they won’t require painting. To increase energy efficiency, you’re given the option of adding insulation to the inside of the frame
- Fiberglass– even more difficult to damage than vinyl. Fiberglass does not expand or contract much with weather temperatures- similar to the properties of glass. This property of fiberglass provides a tighter seal between the glass and the frame. New technology allows for insulation to be injected into pockets within the frame, further increasing the energy saving properties of this frame.
Things To Consider Before Renovating Windows
Renovating your windows not only updates the look of your home, but it adds value to your property. However, it can be a daunting financial investment right upfront. Look into any rebate or incentive programs New Hampshire has to offer those making energy efficient improvements to their home or businesses.
Also, take into consideration the time it will take to prep the window areas for construction. You will need to remove any shutters or awnings on the outside of the window. On the inside of your home, you will need to remove any window curtains, blinds or window shades. Don’t forget to take the curtain rods down either. Move all art and anything fragile to a different part of the house, where it won’t be damaged. Roll up any rugs or floor coverings and move those as well. Because this is a dusty process, anything that remains in the room should be covered with a sheet.
Finally, if you live in one of the 56 historic districts in New Hampshire, find out any regulations exist in regards to home renovation and home improvement.