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Window Replacement in West Virginia
West Virginia homes experience a range of climate conditions—from deep mountain snows to blistering summer heat—and those conditions can seriously affect a home’s energy performance. In fact, you may be using a lot more heat and air conditioning that necessarily, especially if your home’s windows are old, outdated, or inefficient. That’s why, when you’re weighing a new window replacement, it’s best to choose high efficiency windows that can work to insulate your home during the winter and keep it well-shaded and cool throughout the summer. This guide will take you through a variety of measures you can use to select the best windows possible for your area, as well as what you’ll need to know about contractors, permits, and how you can save money through regional rebates and incentive programs.
Things to Know About Window Installation in West Virginia
A window replacement is generally an easy project for an experienced contractor, but because windows must be installed according to regional guidelines and manufacturer’s recommendations—often, with serious legal or safety hazards for those who don’t comply—most homeowners would do best to hire an experienced, licensed contractor who can help you complete the replacement properly.
If you’d like your replacement to improve the overall energy efficiency of your home, saving you money on heating and cooling costs, then you may be eligible for local incentives and rebates from your municipal government or your regional utility. Many local programs offer loans and rebates for efficient windows or for sealing the outer envelope of your home or investing in better insulation, so it’s a good idea to check with your regional providers before you begin planning your replacement.
In the majority of cases, a window replacement is a quick project that can be completed in less than an afternoon. However, the project may go longer if the wall opening needs to be enlarged to accommodate a larger window, or if you have storm panels installed on your window that need to be removed before the installation can begin.
Hiring a Contractor for West Virginia Window Installation
When selecting a contractor, don’t just opt for the first one you see—collect at least three different estimates so you can compare prices and services. Also take into consideration how well you and the contractor communicate, as that will be a huge indicator of your overall satisfaction with the project. You intuition is often just as important a predictor of a job’s success as affordable rates, so if something feels off, don’t sign any contracts. Ask your contractors to break out estimates in terms of labor, materials, and other expenses so you can see what each area costs. Additionally, request to see their licenses and references—a good contractor will be able to provide both. You can also verify a contractor’s license yourself using the West Virginia Division of Labor Contractor Licensing search tool.
When you’ve decided which contract you’d like to use and accepted a contract, review the details of the document before signing to ensure that nothing is different what you’d previously discussed and were quoted in your estimate. If the contractor requires a deposit, make sure you understand what portion of work that amount covers. Ask for a copy of the final contract to keep with your records.
Permits for Window Installation in West Virginia
Permitting for your window replacement can be a bit tricky, especially since different areas have differing regulations and may require various supporting documents to obtain a permit and proceed with your repair—or none at all, depending on local regulations. However, if you are required to pull a permit, you must have your application approved before any work can begin on the replacement. Your permitting office may ask you to provide documents certifying your homeownership and level of insurance, or may request copies of the manufacturer brochure that accompanies the windows or plans detailing the changes that will be made.
If you have questions about the permitting process, contact your local building department for assistance. Your contractor should also be able to help you complete the application, particularly any portions that require technical know-how.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in West Virginia
While not a complicated project, there are some things you can do around the home before installation day to help your replacement proceed smoothly:
- Removing all wall hangings and window treatments on the wall near and around the window.
- Trim back tree branches and shrubberies that may create obstacles for the installer.
- Move furniture, roll up rugs, and cover floors with drop cloths to create an unobstructed path from the window to the front door.
- Deactivate the window sensors on your home security system.
- Shut pets away into enclosed areas so they won’t be accidentally left out.
West Virginia’s Climate Concerns for Windows
West Virginia has a range of temperatures, but is generally temperate, which means you need windows that can handle a wide range of conditions. A window’s glazing is generally rated for different factors that can increase the insulation in your home or reduce the amount of solar radiation allowed through the glass. The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) tests various window products for these considerations and rates them using industry standards. In particular, when shopping for a window in your West Virginia home, research the product’s U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), usually found on the window’s label and manufacturer brochure.
The U-factor is the measurement of how well the window insulates your home—the lower the U-factor, the better the insulation. For the majority of homes in the state, a U-factor measuring 0.30 or less is ideal, although homes in the state’s higher altitudes and those in mountainous regions may be more comfortable with a U-factor that is even lower than that.
Then there’s the SHGC, or the measurement of how well a window shades a home’s interior. The lower the SHGC rating, the less solar heat the windows allows into your home. Sunnier, warmer parts of the state may find that an SHGC of less than 0.40 is ideal, possibly even going as low as 0.32. However, for those homes that want to take advantage of passive solar heating, purchasing a window with a higher SHGC, up to 0.42, can help bring heat into your home in colder weather.
For superior energy performance, also look for a window that bears the ENERGY-STAR label on its packaging. This rating means that the product has been reviewed by the EPA and has been approved for the highest energy performance among comparable products. Purchasing windows with this label is also often an eligibility requirement for incentive programs as well.
Understanding West Virginia Window Ratings
In addition to the U-factor and SHGC, there are several other measurements that the window ratings industry uses to indicate how a window will perform once it’s installed in your home. These measurements are:
- Air Leakage (AL): Air leakage indicates how much airflow and circulation allowed through a window’s glass.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This measurement rates how much light a window’s glazing allows into your home.
Window Styles and Frames for a West Virginia Property
Beyond the glazing ratings, there are many different styles of window and several window frame materials to choose from when making your final purchase. Popular window styles are as follows:
- Arch top: A rectangular shape with a rounded decorative top.
- Bay window: These windows project outward past a home’s outer envelope, forming a seating area.
- Box window: These small-paned windows are generally hung in panels of three to five windows.
- Double hung: Two sashes, so that the window is operable from both the upper and lower portions.
- Elliptical: A window in a large half or quarter circle shape that makes a beautiful decorative accent.
- French casement: French casement windows open outward along a vertical center line.
- Picture windows: Composed of a single, large pane of glass, picture windows are a nice decorative touch for homes with a great view.
- Single-hung: Your most classic window style, single-hung windows contain an operable sash that can be lifted above a stationary upper portion.
The type of frame you select can have a significant impact on your window’s overall insulation, strength, and resistance to fading from UV exposure. Here are some of the different types available:
- Aluminum: Tough, sturdy aluminum frames are great for storm-proofing your home, but may conduct heat into your house on warmer days.
- Composite: Composed of wood fibers mixed with vinyl, composite frames offer all of the authenticity of natural wood without the threat of warping.
- Fiberglass: Can be combined with insulation for superior energy efficiency.
- Vinyl: Sturdy, fade-resistant, and insulative, vinyl is one of the most popular materials for window frames.
- Wood: Offering classical authenticity, wood frames nonetheless require frequent maintenance to protect from decay and warping.
Glass Options for West Virginia Windows
A last feature that will determine your new window’s overall energy performance is in its glazing system—whether it is made with insulative layers or energy-efficient coatings. Here are some of the options to consider:
- Single-pane windows: These windows are composed of a single pane of glass in a frame—and due to their overall poor energy performance, are generally not used in new windows. If you choose to install them, make sure to use a strong frame material, like aluminum, for reinforcement, and add storm panels.
- Double-pane windows: These window contain a layer of inert gas trapped between two glass panes, which can form an insulative barrier in your home.
- Triple-pane windows: If you live in an especially cold home, then you may appreciate a triple-pane window, which has an extra layer of insulation and another pane of glass for extra protection from the elements.
- Low-E glass: Low-emissivity glass contains a specialized coating that reflects infrared heat back into a home, keeping the temperature comfortable throughout the interior.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in West Virginia
West Virginia homes benefit enormously from the installation of new windows, particularly when those windows are installed with a home’s energy efficiency in mind. Window replacements pump up the value of a home, make it more desireable on the housing market, and boosting curbside appeal. Furthermore, they can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 25 percent, and keep you more comfortable in your home, no matter what the weather decides to serve up.