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Window Replacement in Wyoming
Land of mountain peaks soaring thousands of miles above sea level, and searing miles of desert scrub land, Wyoming’s climate can best be summarized in one word: varied. Homes here have to compete with all kinds of extreme weather, along with a wide range of temperatures, that can make it difficult to keep homes comfortable. These conditions should ultimately inform the type of window you select for your window replacement—improvements to frames, insulation, and glazing can significantly improve your home’s energy use and improve the quality of your HVAC, while saving you money at the same time. This guide will help you get to know the types that are well-suited to your area’s climate, as well as providing information about obtaining permits, hiring a contractor, and qualifying for area incentives, as well.
Things to Know About Window Installation in Wyoming
While not an incredibly complex project, a window installation is generally above the average homeowner’s expertise, particularly if you’re new to window repair. It’s best to locate and hire a qualified contractor who is licensed to do this work in your area, and who can make sure your project is in line with local regulations and safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
Window replacement projects are a good chance to increase your home’s overall energy efficiency, as leaky or outdated windows are often a source of increased heating and cooling costs. If you choose to make improvements to your windows by purchasing energy-efficient products, you may be eligible to save some money as well. For instance, the Wyoming Community Development Authority offers a low-interest loan program, known as the Wyoming Energy Savers program, that can be used towards the purchase of weatherizing equipment, like storm windows. Local utilities can also help—the Rocky Mountain Power WattSmart Incentives program offers customers cash rebates for energy-saving window installations, as does the Questar Gas Thermwise program and the Black Hills Energy Efficiency program. These incentives can significantly mitigate the costs of more energy-efficient products, so it pays to check with your local government and area utility to see what kinds of programs may be on offer before beginning to shop for windows.
Generally, a window replacement is a fairly simple project—an experienced contractor can usually get the job done in around two hours. A few things can extend the length of the project, including whether you will be enlarging the opening surrounding the window, or if there are storm panels installed over the window that need to be removed first.
Hiring a Contractor for Wyoming Window Installation
Before you can decide on a contractor to hire, you’ll want to gather estimates from at least three different prospects. Their quoted amounts will help you understand the going rates in your area for the work you need completed.
There are other factors beyond the contractors’ rates that should help inform your decision—namely, how you feel you communicate with each one. You want the one you hire to listen to your needs and to be able to provide answers to any questions you have. If something feels off during the estimate process, don’t sign with them.
Additionally, check that your contractor is licensed to work in your area. You can ask your contractor directly to see their license, or you can verify a license yourself by contacting your local licensing office. Also ask for references—a good contractor will be able to provide them upon request.
Once you’ve decided on your contractor, they should provide you with a contract that matches the details and figures quoted in previous estimates. Review the final contract before signing to ensure that this is true—if there are changes you haven’t discussed, don’t sign. If the contractor asks you to provide a down deposit, understand which portion of the work that amount covers. And lastly, ask for a copy of the completed contract for your records.
Permits for Window Installation in Wyoming
Whether or not a permit will be required for your window replacement depends upon the rules set forth by your local zoning department, as well as the scope of the project. Typically, if you will be making any structural changes to the wall to enlarge the window opening, you will be required to pull permits no matter what.
As part of the permit application process, you may be asked to provide supplemental materials, such as copies of your homeowners insurance, the manufacturer’s brochure listing the product specifications, or design plans showing the adjustments you plan to make to your home. You may also be asked to sign an affidavit certifying your ownership of your home.
Your local building department will be able to let you know if a permit is required, and whether or not you need to provide any additional information when you apply, as well as if there are product requirements for windows, like weatherization measures or energy codes that must be followed. Meanwhile, your contractor should help you complete any parts of the permit application that require technical knowledge.
Preparing Your Property for New Window Installation in Wyoming
To ensure that your project proceeds as smoothly and quickly as possible, there are a few things you can do around your home before the contractor arrives:
- Take down and store away wall hangings and window treatments like curtains, blinds and shades.
- Trim tree branches, shrubberies, and other foliage that may be in the way of the window’s exterior.
- Move aside furniture and rugs in the area to clear a path from the window to the door.
- Cover furniture and floors with drop cloths and tarps to protect them from flying dust.
- Deactivate any window sensors on your home security system.
- Shut away pets in enclosed areas so they are not accidentally let out.
Wyoming’s Climate Concerns for Windows
Wyoming residents experience a wide range of temperature extremes, which can vary from high highs to low lows. Typically, though, weather here tends to be on the cooler side, meaning you’ll want to pay particular attention to one performance measurement that will be expressed on your window’s packaging: its U-factor. The U-factor is a rating determined by the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) to express how well a window’s glass insulates your home. U-factor ratings range between 0 and 1—the lower the number, the better the insulation.
In your Wyoming home, look for a window with a U-factor no higher than 0.30. For superior energy performance, an even lower rating, like a 0.25 is ideal. You can find that rating on the window’s label or inside the manufacturer’s brochure that accompanies the product.
Another measurement that may be of interest to those in warmer areas is the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). This measurement indicates how much solar heat the window allows through its glass and into your home’s interior—essentially, how well it shades your home. A window with a low SHGC will allow less solar radiation into your home. Homes in the hotter portions of the state will do well with a SHGC between 0.32 and 0.37. However, if you’re hoping to take advantage of passive solar heating to offset heating costs in your home, a higher SHGC, somewhere around 0.42, can help lower winter energy expenses.
Another item to look for on your window’s labeling is the ENERGY-STAR logo. Products that bear this insignia have been tested by the EPA and found to demonstrate the best energy performance, meaning you stand to save the most on your heating and cooling costs when you install them. Meanwhile, purchasing these products may allow you to meet eligibility requirements for various efficiency rebates, as well.
Understanding Wyoming Window Ratings
Beyond the U-factor and SHGC, windows are rated for their air leakage and visual transmission, two measurements that indicate how they’ll perform once installed in a home. Here are the details of those ratings:
- Air Leakage (AL): This measurement rates the airflow the window allows through the glass, rather than through the frames. It’s an important measurement to consider in areas where winds are a concern.
- Visual Transmission (VT): This measurement indicates how much light is allowed to filter through the window glass.
Window Styles and Frames for a Wyoming Property
Windows also come in many styles and with several choices for frame materials, that can affect a home’s appearance and enter into its efficiency equation. The most popular frame models are the following:
- Arch top: A rectangular window with a rounded, decorative top.
- Bay windows: These windows form a unit and project outwards beyond the home’s outer envelope.
- Box windows: Several windows grouped in threes or fives, which have small, square panes.
- Double hung: These windows have an upper and lower sash, each of which can be opened separately.
- Elliptical: A long, quarter or half-circle shaped window.
- French casement: A long window opening along a vertical center line, that functions much like a French door.
- Picture windows: Perfect for homes with a view, picture windows are a decorative, single paned window that cannot be opened.
- Single-hung: Your classic window type, single-hung windows feature two sashes, an upper stationary level, and a bottom portion that can be raised to open the window.
Window frame materials play an important part in your home’s comfort, energy savings, and overall appearance. Here are the most popular types of frames:
- Aluminum: Storm-resistant and do well in windy areas, but may also conduct heat on warmer days.
- Composite: For those who prefer the look of natural wood, composite frames offer a lower-maintenance alternative.
- Fiberglass: Sturdy and can be combined with insulation for high energy performance.
- Vinyl: A natural insulator, vinyl frames are also sturdy, low-maintenance, and UV-resistant.
- Wood: A classic, timeless choice, but also may require frequent replacement due to warping and moisture damage.
Glass Options for Wyoming Windows
Modern windows come with glazing “systems”—as well as energy-efficient coatings—that can help insulate your home’s interior. Here are the details of those options:
- Single-pane windows: Contain virtually no insulation and are thus rarely used in modern window replacements. Should you choose to purchase single-pane windows, protect your home by pairing them with a sturdy aluminum frame and storm panels.
- Double-pane windows: These windows insulate your home using a layer of inert gas trapped between two panels of glass. The gas resists drafts and air leakage, keeping your home more comfortable and efficient.
- Triple-pane windows: Double up a home’s insulation by employing a second layer of gas sandwiched between a third pane of glass. These windows are great for homes in very cold areas, but may be too much for warmer homes.
- Low-E glass: Not a glazing system, but a microscopic film placed over a window that helps reflect heating and cooling back into a home, rather than allowing it to travel through the window. These coatings on a window can potentially reduce energy spending by 25 percent.
Benefits of Installing New Windows in Wyoming
New windows can improve a home’s appearance, comfort, and can even help you save money in the long run. Windows raise property values and make homes more marketable, good news if you’re hoping to sell soon. They also improve curbside appeal—and opting for energy efficient glazings, frames, and coatings will make your energy bills a little easier on the eyes as well. Lastly, they can keep you more comfortable in your home, no matter where you live in the Cowboy State.