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Window Replacement in South Dakota
South Dakotans know a little bit about weather—with average temperatures ranging between 0 degrees in winter to highs up to 84 degrees in the summer, window replacements here become as much about function as they are about changing your home’s appearance. Taking the time to understand how different windows affect your home’s look and insulation will help you save overall on your energy bills, and keep you nice and warm when fierce winter winds blow. This guide will give you a rundown of the various types, as well as an understanding of the building requirements and insulation recommended for your area’s climate.
Things to Know About Window Installation in South Dakota
A window replacement is a little bit more complicated than you might initially think—there’s more to it than just picking out the glass and throwing it in. Windows must be permitted according to area guidelines, and generally should be installed by a licensed contractor, especially if you will be enlarging or adjusting the surface area of the wall surrounding the window. Additionally, there’s the matter of picking a window that will be appropriate for your area’s climate, both in terms of the model’s insulation and glazing, and in South Dakota, that means selecting an energy-efficient type that can prevent air leaks and winter chill.
In colder areas, windows need not only to be rated for proper insulation, they should also be installed with quality air sealing and weather stripping that will reduce leakage—and ultimately, save you money on your heating and cooling costs.
Having a contractor inspect the air sealing in the walls and area surrounding the window can significantly reduce your energy consumption. And in South Dakota, some local utilities may be willing to help with cost-mitigating incentives or low-interest loan programs, such as Otter Tail Power Company’s Dollar Smart Financing Program, NorthWestern Energy’s Energy Efficiency Rebates, or Bright Interest Solutions Residential Rebate Program, which offers rebates for energy-efficient windows to customers of eleven different South Dakota utilities.
Generally, a window install is a pretty quick job, which can be performed in about an hour on average for a simple replacement. However, there are a few things that can add time to the job, including whether the surrounding wall opening needs to be adjusted, and whether or not there are storm windows installed on the glass.
Hiring a Contractor for South Dakota Window Installation
Unless you already have a contractor in mind, it’s wise to collect at least three different quotes for the job. That way, you’ll be sure you get the best deal possible from the workman you ultimately hire. Make sure that each contractor’s estimate breaks down the job in terms of labor, costs, and materials, at the very least, and ask to verify that each contractor is licensed to do work in your area. Generally, you can check this using the South Dakota Contractor Licenses Directory.
Meanwhile, once you choose a contractor and receive an official contract, review the details of the document to ensure that they match all the information listed on the estimate—if anything has changed or seems out of order, don’t sign. If you’re asked to put down a deposit, make sure to verify what part of the contract costs your deposit covers. After you sign, request a copy of the completed contract for your records, in case you need it for reference later.
Also, don’t discount the value of your natural instincts when selecting a contractor—if a potential hire doesn’t seem to have the level of know-how or information you’d expect, then they may not be the right person for the job. Window replacement may seem simple, but it requires a lot of specialized information, including familiarity with building codes, permitting guidelines, installation safety, and knowledge about window products and materials, particularly which kinds are appropriate for your area’s climate. If a contractor can’t provide clear information on any of these subjects, then don’t let them do work on your home.
Permits for Window Installation in South Dakota
South Dakota abides by the 2015 International Building Code, which requires that windows be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Furthermore, this code dictates that flashing is installed around the opening of the window.
Generally, most local municipal governments in South Dakota require that homeowners obtain a permit before installing or replacing a new window in their homes, although particular requirements may differ from region to region, so it’s best to check with your local building or zoning department before beginning your project.
Permit offices may require you to sign an affidavit attesting to your home ownership or ask you to certify certain levels of homeowner insurance protection. Further, they may have energy or climate codes that dictate the type of windows that can be used on your home, so it definitely pays to familiarize yourself with your local building requirements by calling or visiting your local permitting office.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in South Dakota
To save time, money, and hassle, it’s a wise idea to prepare the area around your window before your contractor arrives to install the window. The following steps will make your replacement as painless as possible:
- Remove and store all curtains, blinds, shades, and window treatments.
- Take down photos, artwork, or shelves hung on the walls surrounding the window.
- Trim any tree branches, shrubbery, or other landscaping that might interfere with the window installation.
- Move any furniture so that there is an unobstructed path from the door to the window.
- Deactivate any window sensors on your home security system.
- Protect furniture in the room by moving it or covering heavy items with dust covers. Protect your floors by laying down a tarp or drop cloth.
- Put away pets that may be accidentally let out by contractors coming and going.
South Dakota’s Climate Concerns for Windows
South Dakota is in a part of the country that experiences severe winter weather, with average wind speeds approaching nearly 20 miles per hour all throughout the state. That makes a window’s insulative properties, known as its U-factor, a particularly important measurement for your new windows. You’ll want to check your window’s manufacturing brochure to ensure that it is rated for installation in your area; however, generally, for the best performance, look for a model that has a U-factor rating of 0.25 or less (or less than 0.50 for skylights).
Less pressingly for your area, but still important, is the window’s solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC—an industry measurement that indicates the level of solar radiation the window glass allows through. An SHGC measurement between 0.35 and 0.60 will allow heat from the sunlight to filter in during the winter, which can help offset heating costs and consumption.
To verify these measurements, as well as check your window’s energy efficiency, you should check the model’s National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label at the time of purchase. Ideally, look to see if the window contains certification from the EPA’s ENERGY-STAR program, meaning it is rated for the highest energy efficiency.
Understanding South Dakota Window Ratings
As mentioned in the section above, there are several measurements labeled on each window that can help you determine how the model you select will behave in a variety of different conditions. These include the following standards:
- U-Factor: This measurement determines how well the window insulates your home.
- Air Leakage (AL): This measurement determines the amount of air that can penetrate your home through the window glass.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This determines the amount of light let in through the window glass.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This measurement rates how well the window shades your home from additional heat from sunlight.
Window Styles and Frames for a South Dakota Property
There are many window styles to choose from for your South Dakota home. Here are the basics to know:
- Arch top: A square window with a rounded decorative top.
- Bay window: A window that projects outward, providing a seating area for a window seat or nook.
- Box windows: A wide set of windows with smaller panes, usually installed in groups of 3 or 5.
- Double hung: Can be operated from the lower or upper sashes, allowing you more flexibility to open and enjoy the outdoors.
- Elliptical: A wide, decorative window in a half or quarter circle.
- French casement: Wide glass windows that separate in the center and open outward like a French door.
- Picture window: Pane-free windows that offer unobstructed views of a surrounding area, these windows are often hung in series, and do not open outward.
- Single hung: The most traditional window style, these feature a lower sash that can be pushed up above the stationary upper level.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider the material your window frame is made out of. The following are some of the most common types and their differences:
- Aluminum: Strong and lightweight, aluminum can withstand strong winds and severe weather, but may conduct heat into your home on warmer days.
- Composite: For those who prefer the look of natural wood, composite frames, a combination of wood fibers and synthetic materials, can provide that appearance without the threat of warping or decay.
- Fiberglass: Durable low-maintenance fiberglass frames can be used in almost any window style and combined with insulation for better air sealing.
- Vinyl: The super star in window efficiency, as it can easily trap air from escaping from or entering the home. It’s also durable, UV-resistant, and virtually maintenance-free.
- Wood: A beautiful, authentic look and insulates well, but can warp and mold over time, especially in areas with intense weather, like South Dakota.
Glass Options for South Dakota Windows
A window’s “glazing” refers to the type of glass used in the panes. Most modern windows come equipped not with a single pane system, but with complicated multiple pane systems with energy-efficient coatings. To help you make a decision about your window glazing, you should get to know the basics of four different kinds: single, double, or triple pane glazings, in addition to low-emissivity glass.
- Single-pane windows: Old-school and are generally only used for decorative purposes, since they tend to offer scant protection from wind and heat, raising energy bills enormously. If you decide to purchase a single-pane window, make sure to place it in a sturdy, insulated frame, with a storm panel accompanying the window.
- Double-pane windows: Provide a barrier from the elements using a pocket of inert gas pumped between the two layers of glass, which serves as an insulative buffer. If you choose to install double-pane windows, you typically do not need to install storm windows.
- Triple-pane windows: These are some of the most efficient windows available, and as you might have guessed, contain two layers of gas between the interior glass and the outside, making them perfectly suited for cold climates like that of South Dakota.
- Low-E Glass: Low-emissivity glass coatings on your windows can significantly reduce heating costs—glass that is specifically coated to retain heat can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 25 percent, making it well worth the extra 10 to 15 percent you’ll spend on the window.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in South Dakota
When you choose to install new windows in your South Dakota home, you’ll get the benefit of better curb appeal, which can even raise property values or help your home sell more quickly. Meanwhile, inside your home, you’ll reap the benefits of superior comfort—and lower energy bills, that will make life much easier throughout those long winters.