While many replacement window manufacturers tout their glass packages, you need to look at the overall window before deciding which will give you the most energy efficiency for your home. More than just a “holder” for the glass, how your window frame is constructed and the material with which it is made will have a big impact on window efficiency. In fact, the frame can contribute from 10% to 30% toward the overall insulation value. Some materials commonly used in window frames insulate better than others. Here is an overview of the most popular frame materials.
Aluminum frames are light and durable. However aluminum frames are poor insulators because they absorb and transfer both heat and cold. In cold temperatures aluminum can also cause condensation, which results in moisture buildup within the window surface.
Wood frames are popular for cosmetic reasons, and because older homes traditionally used wood window frames. But from an energy efficiency perspective wood insulates only marginally well. Wooden frames are more energy efficient than aluminum, but are less effective than more modern materials.
Wood clad frames
Essentially a double-sided frame using wood for one side, and aluminum or vinyl for the other side. Improving window energy efficiency is not the reason for using two different materials — reducing maintenance and lowering initial cost is the goal. The maintenance free aluminum or vinyl is used on the exposed exterior, while the attractive wood is used on the inside.
Vinyl is a very durable multipurpose plastic that requires no painting or maintenance. Vinyl frames are very good at insulating and resisting moisture. Insulated vinyl frames have recently been introduced that contain other materials within the frame to provide further insulation and even less condensation.
Composite and Hybrid frames
Composite frames are made up of different compressed wood particles. Hybrid frames consist of two or more materials, which are used throughout the entire window frame. Composite and hybrid window frames are more energy efficient than aluminum or wood, but are generally less effective at reducing energy loss than vinyl or insulated vinyl frames.
Fiberglass frames are as maintenance free as vinyl frames. But fiberglass is considerably stronger, making these frames considerably more durable. From a window energy efficiency standpoint, fiberglass frames are superior to wood, aluminum and most hybrid frames; but are matched for insulating properties by vinyl frames, which are less expensive to buy and install.
At Rescom Exteriors, we can help guide you through the decision making process so that you choose the best replacement window for your home and budget.
For more information about upgrading your home with energy efficient replacement windows call us toll-free at (866) 410-5884. Or visit our web site at www.iwantnewwindows.com.