Closed windows are supposed to keep cold air out of a house, not allow a chilling breeze to ruffle the curtains. Many New Castle, New York homes, however, are “bleeding” heat due to old and inefficient windows, defeating their purpose and causing high heating bills to rise even more. But the remedy may just be a phone call away.
“Today’s double-paned and triple-paned windows are generally more superior in terms of energy efficiency than a window that’s retrofitted with a storm [window],” according Kathy Krafka Harkema, Pella Windows corporate spokeswoman.
Actual fuel savings vary, but what prompts most homeowners to investigate window replacement is likely jamming or the indoor breezes in January.
Chappaqua’s John Buckley called Briarcliff’s Wiser Windows & Doors when his 300-year-old house was giving him the chills. Noting that many people with very old homes mistakenly believe that preserving the integrity of their authentic homes cannot coincide with modern and efficient windows, Wiser’s Derek Tacon came out to the house to review Buckley’s options.
Researching And Choosing The Right Window Company
According to Mr. Tacon, the best way to locate a local window company is through the website of the three major window manufacturers – Andersen Windows & Doors, Marvin Windows & Doors and Pella Windows & Doors. The companies’ websites list local businesses that are certified to replace and repair their windows. And homeowners often fail to fully research the multitude of options available to them. A qualified firm should leave a level of comfort (beginning with their initial walk through) and supply the information they need to proceed – options, detailed drawings, price sheets, labor costs and cost verses value breakdown.
Good window manufacture is useless if the window is installed improperly. “Do-it-yourself” homeowners often order the wrong-sized window or do not set it level, which impedes the open/close mechanism. Homeowners using a handyman to install windows, as opposed to the window company, should check his references and look at his work.
Ms. Krafka Harkema of Pella also suggests testing his knowledge of window installation by asking him questions regarding measuring methods, sun exposure issues and type of glass (double or triple-paned). Furthermore, Tacon cautioned that large companies such as Home Depot usually subcontract the work, with the subcontractor getting paid by the number of windows replaced, resulting in “rush” jobs because “faster” translates into more money.
Tacon also suggests that homeowners determine whether large companies, whether Home Depot or Pella, offer a comprehensive package. For example, do they have an installation process for use by professionals as well as written or video instructions for the do- it-yourself types? Pella’s Krafka Harkema adds that the company offers architectural support to assist with installation problems.
Piecemeal Approach and Timing
Many homeowners replace their windows in stages, over several years. Such an approach can amortize costs and be more convenient. Rooms, floors or entire sides of a house can be done one at a time. And a window replacement should not mean a wind tunnel for longer than a day.
Don’t be subconscious about being a “tree hugger” – you’re not alone. The big companies offer composite frames of plastic and various fibers, which actually last a bit longer and expand and contract a lot less. They may not be as attractive as wood frames, but the companies recognize the practical benefits and the ecological savings. In addition, said Tacon, today’s vinyl and aluminum frames are virtually maintenance free, and even wood frames are factory primed and do not need new paint for at least 10 years.
Benefits: Warm In Winter, Cool In Summer
New windows will negate the need for storm windows and allow you to survive the summer -even without air conditioning, as a film coating will filter out the ultraviolet rays.
Staying warm in winter will follow from the perfect fit, multi-paned glass, and for older windows, removing the pockets from the old weight and pulley system. The chained weight of a new window will now hang alongside the frame, creating a larger pane that maximizes light and ends drafts. And sound transmission changes dramatically with the newer materials, resulting in a quieter house.
Replacing Doors: The Same Principles Apply
A new door that is properly set in its frame should last forever. And while “your home is your castle,” homeowners should be dissuaded from purchasing “fancy” doors that often are at odds with the house design and often do not properly fit the opening, according to Tacon. And sliding doors to access patios actually save space and promote convenience.
And the products deliver, according to Chappaqua’s Jill Hart, who recently replaced windows. “We absolutely love the new windows,” she says, observing that the draft has disappeared, the noise has diminished, more light comes through and she no longer has to bang the frames to free the locks. It’s likely that her winter oil bills will be lower as well.
Rich Monetti interview of Kathy Krafka Harkema, John Buckley, Derek Tacon and Jill Hart