Vinyl windows come in no-fade colors and faux-grain finishes that weather well in any the harsh climates of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. And their sturdy construction and insulated glass meet Energy Star criteria. Read on for other features worth a second look.
1. Go for Top-Quality Construction
The best vinyl has additives that protect against brittleness, yellowing, or fading. Sash and frame extrusions should have welded corners and numerous internal air chambers for strength, rigidity, and insulation.
2. Assess the Glass
To minimize heat loss and gain, a quality window uses “warm-edge” spacers between double panes. Low-e coatings reflect heat and protect furnishings from fading. Check the windows Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (or SHGC). SHGC is expressed as a number between 0 and 1, the lower the SHGC rating, the better the ability of the window to block the heat from the sun. SHGC ratings express the performance rating for the entire window, not just the glass.
Also be aware of the windows U-Factor which measures how well a product prevents heat from escaping from your home. U-Factor ratings generally fall between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the U-Factor, the better the product is at keeping heat in. U-Factor is particularly important during the winter months.
3. Study the Warranty
Look for a “extended lifetime” warranty that covers potential performance problems, such as seal failure, and can be transferred to the next homeowner.
4. Read the Fine Print
Look for an Energy Star-qualified unit; its efficiency and air-tightness have been independently verified by the National Fenestration Rating Council. Windows with Gold Seal Certification from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association have also passed strict structural-integrity tests.
5. Check the Care Instructions
Double-hung windows that tilt in are easiest to clean (no need for a ladder), as are double panes with grilles sandwiched in between. Never use a pressure washer, which can damage seals and break glass.
6. Consider Color
Premium windows can be ordered with a different color on the exterior to match or contrast with house trim.