An easy upgrade that can help you save money on your energy bills today, as well as increase your home's value in the future, is to replace your windows.
But how do you know it's time to give your current windows the boot? An annual performance check is good practice, say experts.
"Virtually every building component in a home needs to be replaced at some point, and windows are no exception," says Matt Minerd of Simonton Windows, a leading vinyl window and patio door manufacturer.
With that in mind, Minerd is offering some do-it-yourself tips to discover how well your current windows and patio doors are functioning:
s Examine the inside of your windows and patio doors for hot and cold "drafty" spots or areas. This indicates air infiltration, which can lead to reduced energy efficiency.
s Check every window for adequate weatherstripping and caulking around the units, which help eliminate air infiltration and ensure a weather tight, secure seal.
s Look for "burnt out" or faded areas on your furnishings and carpeting. This could indicate that harmful, damaging UV rays are entering your home through windows and glass doors. You may want to consider more energy efficient options containing Low E, which is a special glass coating designed to reduce heat transfer.
s If your windows no longer open or close easily, or if they need to be propped open, it could mean key components within the units are damaged or need adjustment. It could also mean the unit needs to be replaced entirely.
s If you have wood windows, look carefully at the frames for signs of rotting, warped wood or other problems with the frame itself. These are an indication the window has exceeded its lifespan.
Should your evaluation turn up one or more problem areas, and it's time to replace your windows, do your homework. While price is important, it shouldn't be a sole decision factor, as functionality is a critical consideration.
Look for low-maintenance materials that offer energy efficiency. For example, vinyl is an excellent insulator and many people choose low-maintenance vinyl frames with a Low E glass coating and an Argon or Krypton gas fill.
These harmless gasses are denser than air and serve as an excellent thermal barrier.
Information about energy-efficient glass options is available Simonton.com.