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Window Replacement in Tennessee
Tennessee window replacement is all about striking a balance. Muggy, humid summer temperatures, combined with icy, winter lows, mean that residents in this area need windows that can help them keep cool during the warmer months and save heating costs in the winter. Selecting the right type of windows for your area and your home’s needs is the key to keeping energy expenses low throughout the year, and that means learning about the different types of windows available, in addition to understanding the basics of building codes, permitting regulations and climate concerns in your area.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Tennessee
A window replacement may seem like a simple enough project at first blush, but it’s actually a complicated job that requires skilled knowledge to ensure that it’s installed safely and in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Ideally, you should use a licensed contractor who is qualified to do this work in your area, especially if you’ll be enlarging the window or making adjustments to the surrounding wall—a misstep here can result in serious damage to your home, or even injury, in rare cases.
Furthermore, you want to make sure that you’re selecting a model with the appropriate glazing and coatings, that will make life comfortable in your home year-round, as well as ensuring that your money’s not going right out the window, literally. In Tennessee, that means selecting a model that’s not only well insulated, but also has properly treated glass.
Along these lines, one of the first things you may want to check is your home’s air sealing. A contractor can inspect the walls and area surrounding the window to determine whether additional insulation is called for. Additionally, you may want to contact your local government or utility provider to see if they have an energy efficiency program available for homeowners making improvements to their homes. Many Tennessee utilities actually offer rebate and loan programs to residents who invest in energy-efficiency updates—for instance, customers of Bristol Tennessee Electric Service can participate in their low-interest Energy Savings Loan Program which offers homeowners up to $10,000 in financing for energy efficiency projects, including higher efficiency windows. Meanwhile, residents serviced by Murfreesboro Electric Department can receive several hundred dollars towards the purchase of double-pane windows through that utility’s e-Score Program, so it can definitely pay to do some investigation of the rebates on offer in your area before you plan your replacement.
Although it requires skilled knowledge, a simple window replacement generally only takes about an hour or two. However, if you need to widen or reduce the wall opening for the window, or remove storm windows prior to installation, the job may take significantly longer.
Hiring a Contractor for Tennessee Window Installation
Finding a qualified contractor can be tricky business—that’s why, unless you already have someone in mind, it’s best to gather at least three separate estimates for your window replacement before making your final decision. A good contractor should be able to break out your estimate in terms of labor, materials, and other expenses. Additionally, you should be able to verify that they are licensed to do work on homes in your area. Ask to see your potential contractors’ licenses. You can verify the validity of those licenses through the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance License Search and Verification Tool.
Once you’ve reviewed your contractor’s estimates, validated their license and feel confident about your choice, ask for an official contract. Compare the details of the contract to those expressed in your initial estimate—if there are any discrepancies, do not sign. If your contractor requires a deposit, make sure you’re clear on what expenses that deposit covers, and then request a copy of the completed contract after both parties have signed.
Also, trust your instincts—if something feels off or if you feel like you won’t work well with a contractor, don’t sign a contract with them, no matter how cutthroat their estimate. Window replacements may not require many man hours, but you still want the worker you ultimately hire to have the know-how to answer any and all questions you have about materials, climate concerns, as well as feeling confident that they will be able to install windows correctly and safely. If your contractor can’t provide clear answers, then don’t sign with them.
Permits for Window Installation in Tennessee
Most cities and municipal areas in Tennessee abide by the 2012 International Building Code. This code generally dictates that windows be installed according to manufacturer guidelines in order to be considered legal and safe.
Some city and county governments may not require a permit for a direct window replacement, while others require permitting for all window work. Almost all local jurisdictions will ask you to obtain a permit if you are enlarging the window opening or making other changes to the wall area surrounding the window. However, to ensure that your project is completed according to area guidelines, be sure to check with your local government’s building department and obtain all the necessary permits before you begin any work.
Some permitting processes may also require you to submit plans, certify your homeowner’s insurance, or testify to your ownership of the property using a signed affidavit. Your contractor should be able to help you complete any parts of the permit application that require specialized technical knowledge.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Tennessee
You can take a lot of the headache out of a window installation project by preparing the area around the window or windows before your contractor arrives. This includes the following steps:
- Take down all window treatments, including curtains, curtain rods, shades, and blinds.
- Remove any artwork or other wall hangings nearby.
- Trim exterior landscaping, like tree branches and shrubs, that may interfere with the window replacement.
- Move furniture between the window and the front door to create an unobstructed path for the contractor.
- Deactivate security sensors located on the windows to avoid complications.
- Protect furniture and floors by covering them with a drop cloth or tarp.
- Keep pets and children away from work area.
Tennessee’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Tennessee receives a wide variety of weather, from lows averaging around 25 degrees in mid-winter, to highs climbing up to an average 88 degrees in high summer. The southeastern corner of the state may experience slightly warmer weather overall. Finding an ideal window here will mean striking a balance between two industry measurements, the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which indicate how well the window insulates your home, and how much solar radiation and heat the glass allows through.
Most windows have these measurements printed on the labeling, alongside the National Fenestration Rating Council insignia. In most areas throughout Tennessee, a window with a U-factor of 0.30 at most and a SHGC of no higher than 0.40 is ideal; however, in the warmer southern reaches of the state, look for a SHGC of less than 0.25. Generally, the pamphlet accompanying the window will tell you if a model is rated for use in your area, which should paint a clearer picture of which ones are ideal for your home’s specific climate.
For the best energy efficiency and the highest savings on your heating and cooling bills, you can also look for the ENERGY-STAR labeling on the window. That means the window has been tested and found to contain the highest efficiency available for your area.
Understanding Tennessee Window Ratings
There are several measurements listed on a window’s labeling that will help you understand how the window insulates and allows heat and light into your home. The following are the details of those ratings:
- U-Factor: A window’s U-factor tells how well it insulates and keeps out wind and chill.
- Air Leakage (AL): Indicates the amount of air flow the window allows through its glass and frame.
- Visual Transmission (VT): A measurement of how much light the glass lets through.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This measurement indicates how well the window shades a home’s interior.
Window Styles and Frames for a Tennessee Property
There are multiple styles of windows and window frames that will affect the look and energy efficiency of your home. Here are the basics of each:
- Arch top: Contains a rounded, decorative top.
- Bay window: Otherwise known as a window seat, this type projects outward to make an area for seating or storage.
- Box windows: Usually these contain many smaller panes and are installed in groups.
- Double hung: Both the upper and lower sash are operable in these windows, allowing you to open it from either side.
- Elliptical: A decorative window that is usually shaped in a wide quarter circle.
- French casement: Functions much like a set of French doors and can be opened outward.
- Picture window: Inoperable pane-free glass that offers a crisp view and poor energy efficiency.
- Single hung: Feature a single operable sash that can be slide up over the top portion.
Furthermore, you’ll need to consider what kind of material you’ll select for your window frame. Here are some of the varieties.
- Aluminum: Durable and extra strong, made for extreme weather. However, they may not be ideal for areas that receive lots of sun.
- Composite: Has all the benefits of natural wood frames, without the drawbacks of warping and decay that may be visible in 100 wood models.
- Fiberglass: Do well combined with insulation, and are tough and low-maintenance to boot.
- Vinyl: Have excellent energy efficient levels, and are also fade-resistant and durable.
- Wood: Offers your home a classic, authentic appearance, but can warp and contract over time.
Glass Options for Tennessee Windows
If you’re unfamiliar with windows, you may be surprised to learn that most contain not only a single pane of glass, but multiple “glazing” systems that help keep out drafts and reduce heating and cooling costs. To understand the basics, we’ll cover three types, as well as a fourth coating option:
- Single-pane windows: Most homes do not use single-pane windows, since they tend to let out lots of heat and air conditioning from the interior. If you do decide to go with single-pane windows, be sure to use an insulated aluminum or wood frame, and install a set of storm windows.
- Double-pane windows: A layer of inert gas trapped between two sets of glass keeps wind from entering your home, and prevents air leakage as well.
- Triple-pane windows: Provides additional insulation beyond double-pane windows by employing a second layer of trapped gas. However, they may be more than you need in your Tennessee home.
- Low-E Glass: A low-emissivity coating over a window’s glass can help retain heat and lower cooling costs, by up to 25 percent, by some estimates.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Tennessee
New windows can add a lot to your home—they’ll make your home more visually appealing, which in turn can boost curbside appeal and fetch more on the housing market. At the same time, energy efficient windows can reduce heating and cooling costs and increase the overall comfort of your home to boot, so you’ll be prepared no matter what the weather decides to dish out.