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Buying Windows in Rhode Island
If you are thinking about replacing or upgrading the windows in your home, the entire process- from finding a contractor to deciding on the new windows- can seem like a major challenge. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Let this window buying guide steer you in the right direction. With a little bit of preparation and research, you’ll be enjoying lower energy bills and the view from your new windows before you know it.
Licensed Rhode Island Window Contractors
All contractors that work on windows must be licensed and registered in Rhode Island. Looking for a contractor online is a great place to start. Read as many reviews and testimonials as you can, and also make sure to request quotes from multiple contractors. Be transparent about the type of work you want done on your home- mentioning the style and function of the windows you’re looking for, so their quote is as accurate as can be. This will avoid any cost-related surprises for you in the end.
After you’ve found a contractor for your project, be sure to carefully read over the contract before you sign it. Make sure you understand everything, and the scope of the project is what you and your contractor have discussed. If not, or if you disagree with anything there, discuss it with your contractor.
Window Permits in Rhode Island
If you are having new windows installed- that is, creating a window where previously there was none- Rhode Island requires homeowners to obtain permits. If you are simply replacing the glass, no permit is necessary. However, if you are replacing the frame and sash, not just the glass, you will need a permit. If you are ever in doubt, check with your local building code and permit office. Rhode Island’s Building Code Commission is located at:
1 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908
Or you can contact them by phone at (401) 222-1129.
If you live in Providence, Rhode Island be sure to review the city’s frequently asked questions about zoning and structures before you start renovating your home.
The Best Windows for Rhode Island’s Climate
Rhode Island’s climate is very humid and is considered subtropical in many parts of the state. Summers are short, rainy and warm; Rhode Island winters are cold and can be wet. Knowing this, there are several choices you can make that will increase the energy efficiency of your home.
Residents will want to take advantage of the improvements made in energy efficient window selection. When you are shopping for new windows, you may see stickers on the glass with some ratings on it. The ratings were determined by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and they help measure how energy efficient that particular window is. Below is a breakdown of each rating and what that means for your home:
- U-Factor- this measures how much warm air can escape your home during the fall and winter, and the lower the U-Factor number, the warmer your home stays.
- Visible Transmittance (VT)- this measures how much natural light comes in via the windows. A high VT rating means a lot of light comes through the glass, and therefore a low rating means not a lot of sunlight will get through.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)- this measures how outside heat enters your home through the windows. The lower the number, the less solar heat that can get through your windows. This is as important to your energy bill during the summer as the U-Factor rating is during the winter.
- Air Leakage- this essentially measures how drafty your windows can be. Air leakage measures how much air from the outside can enter your home.
Another way to boost energy efficiency is to opt for double or triple pane glass windows. Double pane glass adds extra insulation because argon gas is injected between each pane of glass, providing yet another level of protection against heat loss.
Similarly, triple pane glass offers another level of insulation, however adding another pane of glass adds more weight to the window. If you think you may be interested in triple pane glass, talk with your contractor to see the types of window styles and frames that can support the weight.
Finally, you can get glass with a low-E coating on it. This coating protects your home from thermal energy by blocking harmful ultraviolet rays from coming in. The same amount of light can enter your home, but your furniture, wall paper, art and photographs are protected from fading.
Your window contractor may have more suggestions for what is best for your home. Don’t hesitate to utilize their expertise to get the best windows for your lifestyle.
Popular Window Styles For Rhode Island Homes
There are several window style options to choose from, depending on the aesthetic you’re aiming for and the view you want to capture. If you live in a historic neighborhood, you may need to renovate within those requirements. If that is the case, you can still upgrade your windows to make your home as energy efficient as possible while keeping the integrity and historic feeling of your house.
- Awning windows– windows that open out and up via a hand-crank
- Bay windows– project outside of the home slightly. Bay windows can be comprised of any combination of single or double hung windows, picture windows or awning windows.
- Bow windows– similar to bay windows but curve instead of projecting straight across.
- Casement windows– offer uninterrupted views. They open out, horizontally, from the hinge on the window frame. They can be opened using a crank or pushed open by hand.
- Garden windows– project outside the home more than bay windows, though on a smaller scale than bay windows. Garden windows allow you to enjoy greenery year round- even during winter.
- Picture windows– don’t open open at all. Picture windows are considered the most energy efficient as they don’t have any hinges or openings for air to escape from.
- Single hung windows– very common in most homes. They open vertically- from bottom to top.
- 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.
Before Your Window Renovation Project Starts
One thing to keep in mind before your project starts, is that you will need to prepare the area that is being renovated. This will include tasks like removing curtains or outside shutters, moving items you don’t want to get dusty or damaged to a safe spot in the home, and keeping all pets and children out of the way of the contractor and workers. Do the prep work before your contractor shows up on the first day, as it may take longer than you expect to get your home ready. If your contractor has to move everything, there is the risk that your finish date will be delayed.
Installing new windows -or replacing less energy efficient ones- can be a significant financial commitment. However, the payoff is worth it. New windows greatly increase the value of your home, especially if they lower your carbon footprint. You may be eligible for a home improvement loan, so check with your bank. Another option to recoup some of the money spent on renovation is by checking with your city about reimbursements or tax credits for installing energy efficient windows. Cities are rewarding people who take steps to decrease their home’s energy consumption.