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Window Replacement in Utah
Utah’s semi-arid climate means the nights can get just as chilly as the days are hot—and for your home in the Beehive State, it means your windows have to do double duty: keeping cold air out when temperatures drop, and heat out during the long, hot summer afternoons. Thankfully, there are window models that can easily handle both conditions, but it’ll be up to you to purchase the best model for your area’s climate, to ensure that you’re not driving heating and cooling costs up throughout your home. This overview should provide the general knowledge you’ll need to know to make an informed window purchase in your state, as well as informing you of the basics of obtaining a permit and selecting a contractor to get the job done right.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Utah
Although a direct window replacement may seem like a very simple job, there is plenty of specialized information the installer needs to know to ensure that windows are repaired in accordance with state, local, and manufacturer guidelines. Generally, unless you’re familiar with this kind of work, it’s best to seek out the professional help of a licensed contractor in your area. A contractor can help you make sure the window is being installed properly and can even help you pick out a model and type of window appropriate to your area.
Meanwhile, any qualified contractor worth their snuff will be able to investigate the insulation and air sealing in the wall and openings around the window before you even begin—a new energy-efficient model won’t do you much good if the wall surrounding your window is seeping heated and cooled air.
If you do need to make improvements, or are just looking for a way to afford energy efficient windows, your local utility may have a program that can help. For instance, the Rocky Mountain Power Wattsmart Residential Efficiency Program and the Questar Gas Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program both offer customers money back for installing more efficient windows. It can pay to check with your utility and your local government to see if they have any incentives for customers like yourself, that are making energy efficient improvements to their homes.
A simple direct replacement is a quick job, that can be finished in under an hour, under ideal circumstances. However, if you need to adjust the wall opening to allow for a bigger window, or if you have storm windows installed on the glass, it can add man hours to the project, so timelines can vary.
Hiring a Contractor for Utah Window Installation
Generally, you’ll get the best feel for the average price of a window installation in your area if you gather at least three estimates from different contractors. Ask contractors to break out your estimates so that you can see labor costs, material expenses, and other charges. Additionally, you can save yourself some potential heartache by verifying that they are licensed to work in your area. You can use the Utah government’s Licensee Lookup and Verification System to validate the license.
When you’re deciding which contractor to go with, don’t discount the value of your own intuition, as well. Your contractor should be someone with whom you feel you have positive communication, so don’t just go with the lowest estimate to save a few dollars if there’s a better candidate available. Your contractor should also be able to answer any and all questions you have about the project details, so if a potential workman can’t provide clear answers, don’t work with them.
After you make your choice and receive a final contract, make sure to review it to see that everything is in order—no details should be changed since your initial estimate without your prior knowledge. If a contractor requires you to put down a deposit, make sure you understand which portion of the project is covered by that amount. Request a copy of the signed contract for your records, just in case.
Permits for Window Installation in Utah
Utah requires that all windows be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Generally, most local city or county governments also require the homeowner to obtain a permit for the work before beginning a replacement project—you may even need a permit for a direct replacement that doesn’t necessitate any structural changes. Additionally, your local permitting office may request copies of your homeowners insurance, or detailed plans showing the changes you’ll be making to your home. And they may ask you to sign an affidavit certifying your ownership of the property.
Since the specific requirements vary from region to region, it’s best to get in touch with your local building department to familiarize yourself with your area’s regulations. Always do so before beginning your project so that you can ensure everything is above board.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Utah
A window replacement is not a time-consuming project, but you can make things even easier on your contractor (and yourself!) by taking time to prepare the room and area surrounding the window before the project begins. Specifically, make sure to:
- Uninstall window treatments, including curtains, blinds, shades, and valances.
- Remove wall hangings like artwork, shelves, and photos hung near the window.
- Take time to trim back trees, shrubs, and other landscaping that could potentially interfere with the exterior installation.
- Clear an unobstructed path to the front door by removing furniture that might be in the way.
- Deactivate your home security system—especially if it uses window sensors.
- Cover furniture and floors in the area with drop cloths.
- Keep pets and children away from work area.
Utah’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Utah’s weather can change rapidly, and varies greatly depending upon the part of the state you live in. However, generally, homes here need to be able to both insulate the interior from winter cold and keep out the sun on hot, summer days. Because of the area’s mixed climate, you’ll need to pay attention to two measurements labeled on the outside of the window: the U-factor and the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).
U-factor indicates how well a window insulates a home. Most parts of the state would do well with windows that have a U-factor of 0.30 or less, although for superior energy performance, look for a U-factor that’s at least as low as 0.25. The solar heat gain coefficient, on the other hand, measures the level of shade the window provides—the amount of solar radiation allowed through the window. A high SHGC measurement can be used to offset heating costs in areas that experience cold winters, but generally, in Utah, a measurement between 0.42 and 0.25 is best.
These measurements will all be listed on the window’s National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label. If you’re looking for the highest energy efficiency—and hoping to take advantage of incentives and rebates—you’ll want to check that your window also has the ENERGY-STAR certification on its label as well. This rating means that the window meets the EPA’s guidelines for maximum energy efficiency.
Understanding Utah Window Ratings
Picking out your new window will be easier if you understand the rating system for a few basic window measurements, and how they’ll affect the comfort level of your home’s interior. The following standards are the most important:
- U-Factor: A measurement that indicates a window’s insulative properties.
- Air Leakage (AL): The amount of air a window allows through the glass and frame.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This measurement indicates the amount of light window glass allows through.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This rating expresses how well the window’s glass shades your home.
Window Styles and Frames for a Utah Property
Although selecting a window style will depend on your personal taste and its location within your home, some windows have certain benefits over others, including better energy efficiency, or operable sashes. Here is a brief guideline to the most popular styles:
- Arch top: Has a rounded, decorative top attached to a square window.
- Bay window: Projects outward to form a seating area.
- Box window: Usually combined in groups of threes or fives, these large, decorative windows contain small panes of glass.
- Double hung: These windows can be opened two ways, from the upper or lower sashes.
- Elliptical: These windows are wide, decorative options, available in a quarter or half circle shape.
- French casement: Similar to French doors, these windows feature two vertical units that open outwards.
- Picture windows: Ideal for picaresque views, these windows contain a large, single and inoperable pane of glass.
- Single hung: This is the most classic window style, with an operable lower sash that can be raised above the top sash to open.
Furthermore, you’ll need to think about the window frame material as well. Different materials have different benefits and appearances that they bring to the window. Here is a basic summary of those differences.
- Aluminum: A tough, lightweight material that can withstand extreme weather, but may actually conduct heat into a home during warmer days.
- Composite: Composed of wood fibers and synthetic materials, usually composite frames allow you to experience the beauty and authenticity of natural wood without worrying about damage from moisture.
- Fiberglass: Among the many benefits of fiberglass is its insulative properties—it can be combined with insulation making it a great choice for homes that experience frequent cold snaps.
- Vinyl: Perhaps even better at insulating than fiberglass, since air pockets in the material trap air from escaping or entering. It’s also just as durable and is UV-resistant.
- Wood: Classic and offer homes an air of authenticity, especially in historical properties. However, they’re also harder to maintain, and are frequently subject to warp and decay.
Glass Options for Utah Windows
Windows also come with glazing options and coatings, which can help insulate and protect your home. Although older windows were generally simple, single-pane systems, modern windows contain multiple panes of glass with insulative layers, and homeowners can opt for low emissivity coatings that can reduce heating and cooling costs significantly. Here are the basics of those options:
- Single-pane windows: Traditional, older windows were single-pane, but they have, for the most part, been dropped in favor of multi-pane models that can reduce heating and cooling costs.
- Double-pane windows: An inert gas pumped between two layers of glass forms the insulative layer present in a double-pane window system, creating a barrier between your home and the elements.
- Triple-pane windows: Super-efficient triple-pane windows contain yet another pane of glass and another layer of insulating gas trapped between the interior and exterior layers. These windows are generally only recommended for areas that experience severe cold.
- Low-E Glass: Low-emissivity glass is a name for a microscopically thin coating that reflects infrared heat, meaning it works to keep an ideal temperature throughout your home during both cold and hot weather. While it may drive up your window’s cost 10 to 15 percent, it’s well worth it, since it can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 25 percent.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Utah
New windows come with many benefits, particularly if you invest in high-efficiency models. Windows can boost a home’s curb appeal, leading to higher market values when you choose to sell. Additionally, they can significantly reduce costs on your energy bills, especially if you’re replacing older, outdated models causing high levels of air leakage. Overall, they’ll help you maximize your home’s comfort, even throughout wildly fluctuating temperatures.