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Buying Windows in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Before you begin shopping for replacement windows for you home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you should know that the choices you make will influence the performance of your windows and the energy efficiency of your home for the next 10 to 15 years, or more. Windows manufactured with high quality materials should function well for as long as 15 years – 40 years, and may continue to work well beyond that if well maintained.
The only reason you should be faced with replacing your windows sooner than 10 or 15 years is if you are finding moisture being trapped between window panes, having trouble getting your window to open and close, or if you are beginning to notice air leaks or drafts.
Although many windows boast energy savings, and rightfully so, replacing fully functional windows has very little benefit. If you replace your windows before it is time, it could take years for you to save enough on utility costs to recoup what you spent on their purchase and installation.
If it is time to replace your windows, there are a few things you should know before beginning your search. The climate where you live in Philadephia should influence your decisions, since the best window for your home will be one that is specifically designed for your climate. Additionally, there are important permit requirements to consider, outlined by your local government. Ready to learn everything you need to know about making changes to the windows of your home? Continue reading our Philadelphia window buying guide.
Preparing Your Philadelphia Home for All Four Seasons
When you live in Philadelphia, you have the pleasure of experiencing all four seasons. Winters are cold and snowy, with an average low of 26 degrees in January, and summer is warm and sunny, with temperatures reaching an average high of 87 degrees in July. When you replace the windows in your home, you are tasked with the responsibility of preparing your home for all four seasons. Your city also experiences average precipitation each year, receiving an average of 23 inches of snow and 41.45 inches of rain each year.
Understanding the climate where you live is important to you, because it gives you a guide for selecting the best windows for the climate. ENERGY STAR® has made the whole process even easier with the National Fenestration Ratings Council labels placed on new windows, complete with region specific ratings to guide your search.
ENERGY STAR® indicates that Philadelphia is located in the North Central Climate Zone. As a homeowner living in this region of the United States, you can expect to use your heating system heavily during colder months and will only use your air conditioner during the few hot months of the summer.
When you live in this area of the country, your main focus on the NFRC label should be the U-Factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient ratings. The amount of heat gained or lost through the window is indicated by the U-Factor Rating. A U-Factor rating of no more than 0.30 is most appropriate for Philadelphia. Solar radiation can pass through windows, and passively heat your home, and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient is a rating that indicates how much solar radiation will enter your home through a specific window. Since the climate in Philadelphia is cold, any SHGC rating lower than 0.40 is appropriate according to ENERGY STAR® indications.
Using these guidelines, you should be able to find the windows best suited for the varying temperatures in Philadelphia. The materials used to construct each window is important to consider, as well. Wood, for instance, is the most efficient material to use for window frames but is also among the most expensive. If you are a looking for a less expensive option, one that is better suited to a moderate budget, consider fiberglass or vinyl, both are energy efficiency and priced affordably. When choosing glass, choosing two panes with inert gas filling that has a Low-e coating is the most energy efficient choice for homes in the North-Central climate zone.
In your region, it is not necessary to invest in storm windows since Philadelphia only receives average rain and snow each year.
Philadelphia City Requirements for Window Replacements
Before beginning installation of the replacement windows in your home, you may need to obtain a permit from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. The city of Philadelphia does not require a permit if you will be using a window identical in size to your existing window and you will not be making any changes to the surrounding wall. If you will be changing the size of your window opening, you will need to fill out an application for a repair and alterations permit. According the city website, once you have submitted a residential permit application, you can expect to wait for no more than 15 days before a decision is made about your permit.
Permit applications can be submitted to Permit Services at 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102. If you have questions about completing your application, you can contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections at 215-686-2576 or visit their website here.
Unless you are planning to replace your windows yourself, you will need to hire a contractor who has obtained a general contractor license. Any contractor who has employees working under them is also required to carry workers compensation insurance. Medical expenses and missed work time is covered by this insurance if something goes wrong and someone is injured while working on your home.
Choosing to replace outdated and inefficient windows is one of the best decisions you can make. Not only will you increase the value of your home, you will also experience significant energy savings for years after replacing your windows. In Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, ENERGY STAR® compliant windows have been found to result in annual utility savings between $91 and $424. You can also take pride in knowing you have made a choice that will decrease your use of energy that is derived from nonrenewable sources.