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Window Replacement in Vermont
With annual mean temperatures around 43 degrees, Vermonters definitely know cold weather—and homes here have to be built tough enough to withstand long winter cold snaps. Still, Vermont is no stranger to humid, hot days as well, meaning that windows, in particular, need to cater to the demands of a wide range of temperatures. Modern windows let you do just that, keeping homes both warm through the winter and cool in the summertime. This guide will give you a rundown of the basic window measurements and features that will help you maximize comfort and save money on your utility bills—as well as providing direction on how to select a contractor and obtain a permit to boot.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Vermont
Window replacements may not be the most complicated project in home repair, but they definitely require some construction know-how. That’s why it’s best to look for an experienced licensed contractor in your area who can get the job done quickly and safely. Professional contractors, in particular, have experience with building codes and manufacturer guidelines for windows—both of which need to be followed to keep your window replacement above board.
Another thing to consider when you begin your replacement project is the insulation and air sealing throughout your home, particularly in the wall surrounding the new window. A high-efficiency window model won’t be much good if your wall is poorly insulated, and a professional contractor can help you examine these areas and verify that your air sealing is performing as expected.
For many homeowners, energy efficient windows aren’t just a smart way to save on their heating and cooling bills—they also make residents eligible for local rebate and incentive programs that can help them afford the cost of new windows. Your local government or area utility provider may have a loan or rebate plan to offset the expense of energy-efficient products, like high-performing windows, so it’s a smart idea to check with them before making your final purchase.
In the majority of cases, a window replacement takes just a few hours—even less for a direct replacement. However, if the project will involve enlarging or reducing window openings or removing storm paneling, it may add man hours to the job.
Hiring a Contractor for Vermont Window Installation
To ensure that you’re getting the best deal on window installation in your area, it’s a wise idea to gather at least three different estimates from various contractors before going with a workman. Contractors should be able to break estimates down to show labor costs, materials, and other expenses to give you a detailed idea of what goes into an estimate. Make sure you also ask to see the contractor’s state license before signing a contract. You can also double-check yourself using the Vermont Secretary of State License Check Tool.
Another thing to consider is your own intuition—even if a contractor provides a cutthroat deal on your estimate, you want to be sure you select a worker that you can communicate with. If something feels off, don’t sign a contract with that person.
Once you do receive a final contract, look to see that the prices and work match the amount you were quoted on your estimate. If there’s something missing, or costs you never agreed to, don’t sign. Once you do finalize the contract, request a copy for your records, just in case.
Permits for Window Installation in Vermont
Many local city and county governments require homeowners to obtain a zoning permit before commencing repair work like window replacements. Additionally, permitting offices may ask you to provide supplementary materials, like the window manufacturer’s brochure, plans detailing the extent of the work, and documents certifying your home ownership and proof of homeowner’s insurance. The specifics of what is required vary from region to region, so call or visit your local building department before beginning your project.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Vermont
A window replacement is not the most complicated project a homeowner can undertake, but it still requires some preparation in order to proceed smoothly. At the very least, the following steps will help you get the job completed as quickly as possible, so before the contractor arrives, make sure to:
- Store away any window treatments like shades, blinds, curtains, and valances installed over the window.
- Remove any window hangings, such as photos and artwork, shelves, or other items that may be disturbed by the construction.
- Trim trees, shrubs, and remove other landscaping around the window that may get in the way.
- Deactivate your home security system while the contractor works.
- Cover your furniture and floors with dust covers and drop cloths to protect them from dust stirred up by the project.
- Place pets temporarily away from the window area so they are not let out by accident.
Vermont’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Vermont is located in one of the cooler parts of the country, meaning that windows here need to be both insulative and sturdy enough to withstand harsh winds and weather. All new windows have been tested and rated for their performance in a variety of weather conditions, and will display the unit’s measurements on the labeling, next to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) certification.
For homes in cold weather climates, one of the most important ratings is the window’s U-factor, or the measure of its insulative properties. The lower the U-factor, the better a window insulates your home. A U-factor no greater than 0.30 is ideal for Vermont’s climate; however, more efficient models will have even lower ratings—0.25 or less. To ensure that the model you pick demonstrates superior energy performance, and is eligible for the maximum number of incentives, look for the ENERGY-STAR rating on the labeling or manufacturer brochure. This label, given by the EPA, means that the product has been rated for the best energy efficiency.
Understanding Vermont Window Ratings
Beyond the U-factor, there are several additional measurements to look at when shopping for windows:
- Air Leakage (AL): Air leakage, as you might guess, tells how well the window allows air flow through.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This is the measurement that indicates how much light the window glass allows into the interior of your home.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This is the level of solar radiation a window allows into your home—in other words, how well it shades the interior. In colder areas, a window with a high SHGC can help warm a home throughout the day and offset heating costs.
Window Styles and Frames for a Vermont Property
There are a variety of window styles available for your home, each with its own appearance and energy-efficiency levels. Here are the details of the most popular:
- Arch top: A tall rectangular window topped with a rounded decorative half circle.
- Bay window: Project outwards into an area that can be used for seating and storage.
- Double hung: Two sashes so that the window can be opened from above or below.
- Elliptical: Long, half- or quarter-circle-shaped windows, these are a popular choice for a unique decorative element in your home.
- French casement: French casement windows open outwards into two vertical panes, much like a French door.
- Picture windows: A large, single-pane window that does not open, picture windows make a good choice if you wish to appreciate a view, but are not especially efficient.
- Single hung: The classical window, single hung windows feature two sashes with an operable lower level that can be lifted above the upper.
In addition to the window type, there are several options for your window’s frame, which exhibit different looks and efficiency levels.:
- Aluminum: Make a great choice for storm-prone areas, as they’re both sturdy and lightweight.
- Composite: A mixture of wood fibers and vinyl, composite frames are the perfect choice for homeowners who desire the look and feel of natural wood without the threat of warping.
- Fiberglass: A durable option that can be combined with insulation for maximum energy efficiency.
- Vinyl: Fade-resistant, durable, and well-insulated, vinyl frames are an excellent choice for all climates.
- Wood: Despite its classic look, wood is a high-maintenance material that is subject to warping and wear.
Glass Options for Vermont Windows
Window glass also comes with several options that can ensure that a home stays as warm as possible during fierce winter weather. A window’s glazing system—the number of panes and insulation—as well as additional energy efficient coatings can drive down heating and cooling costs in your house.
- Single-pane windows: Most homeowners do not opt for single-pane windows any longer, as they contain little to no insulation and increase energy expenses. If you do choose to install single-pane windows, be sure to use aluminum frames combined with protective storm paneling.
- Double-pane windows: These systems contain two panes of glass, pumped with inert gas for extra insulation.
- Triple-pane windows: Twice as efficient as double-pane windows, triple-pane windows feature another insulative layer of gas trapped between a second and third set of glass panes—a good choice for especially cold areas.
- Low-E Glass: Low-emissivity coatings over window glass are the best of both worlds: they reflect both heat and air conditioning back into a home’s interior using a micro-thin film installed over the window. They’re slightly more expensive than non-coated windows, but they can cut heating and cooling costs by up to 25 percent.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Vermont
New windows improve the look of your home, adding beauty that improves curbside appeal, increasing market and property value. Meanwhile, newer energy-efficient windows will dial down those energy expenditures and keep your home more comfortable—keeping the green in the Green Mountain State.