We feel that this page is one of the most important on our website.
- This information will empower & arm You with the “Facts” not “Fluff”
- It’s designed to educate & inform you about buying new windows
- You’ll understand what makes one window more efficient than another
- You’ll understand exactly WHY a good installation is so vital
- How to avoid the common pitfalls of choosing the wrong company
Helpful Topics Include:
- Understanding how to compare window performance ratings
- Four elements that ultimately determine total performance
- Why window companies use subcontractors
- How to get a first-class installation
- Weeding through all the marketing gimmicks
- Tips on getting in-home estimates
- Further resources
Understanding how to compare window performance ratings
- For ANY window to qualify for Energy Star, tax credits, or even meet energy code it must have a certain performance rating. They all go by U-factor so this is a very important number to know. Essentially, U-factor is derived from BTU loss. The Lower the number the Greater its ability at keeping the heat IN your home, meaning higher efficiency. According to nfrc.org most U-factors fall between .15 and 1.20. Obviously, the .15 is the BEST and most efficient. At Window Perfections we have multiple windows that have a .15 U-factor.
- Another important number to know is the AIR rating. This is the Air Infiltration Rating based on (cfm/ft2) cubic feet per minute of air that comes through a product. Many window companies don’t talk very much about this number. In fact, most companies product literature doesn’t even show it. Why? Common sense would indicate that their numbers are not really that good or else they would show it. Imagine if you manufactured a truck that got 50 miles a gallon, wouldn’t you put that in the product literature? Of course!
- Air ratings are also referred to as air leakage. According to nfrc.org the ratings usually fall between 0.1 and 0.30. The industry minimum that’s considered acceptable (but really not that good) is 0.30. At Window Perfections we have a double hung, tilt-in window that has an AIR rating of 0.01. That is 30X less air infiltration than the industry minimum.
Four elements that ultimately determine TOTAL Performance
- We’re going to share the four elements with you in a minute but before we do let’s pretend these four elements are actually ingredients to your favorite recipe. Now, let’s say you Forgot ONE of the four ingredients but made it anyway. Your dish just doesn’t taste right because ALL the ingredients weren‘t included. Therefore, it does NOT turn out as you had hoped. There are many homeowners that bought windows that the end result didn’t turn out as they hoped either. Hopefully, this information will prevent that from happening to YOU. Remember, make sure ALL four elements are included in EACH window; Otherwise, it could lead to poor performance and in some cases perform worse than your old windows. We do have some customers that this actually happened too. We even have the windows and pictures to prove it. Okay, the Four Elements that will determine TOTAL window performance are…
- Bonus Element: Hire a Company that genuinely cares about their customers and depends on word-of-mouth advertising to expand their business, not tons of gimmicky TV ads and billboards.
1.) Good Thermal Performance Rated Window (see window performance ratings above).
2.) Proper Fit/Measurement.
3.) Proper Installation.
4.) Proper Insulation around perimeter of new window (more on #2-4 under topic How to get a first-class installation).
Why window companies use subcontractors
- One of the main reasons? It’s MUCH cheaper! Subcontractors are considered independent contractors. So basically, if you were to hire a company that uses subs, your money is paying for two separate contractors. The one you hire and the one THEY pay to physically DO the work. Also, know this, the company that pays the sub to do the work typically pays them a VERY small amount for each window they install. Of the amount they get paid, the sub has to pay ALL of his own expenses out of that. Some of the expenses the sub is responsible for include, insurance, vehicle, fuel, tools, taxes, equipment, and even pay a helper if he has one.
- Now you see why it’s so advantageous and common for companies to sub?
- Also, by all the money the companies SAVE by using subs this gives them a lot MORE money to market and advertise.
- Now you just might be thinking what’s this have to do with ME? Well, if you’re the type of homeowner that is particular and wants the extra-mile service, Don’t bank on getting it if the company is planning on subbing your job out. Here’s why. Remember, the sub is only getting paid VERY little “per” window, and he’s there to get them installed as FAST as possible.
- If not, he could actually lose money because he still has to pay all of his own expenses. Generally, they are more “quantity minded” and not “driven” by High quality craftsmanship and attention to fine details. What IF they find some rotten wood that needs replaced? They Don’t get a penny more to do ANY additional work on your windows unless it’s written in your contract. The sub knows he’s not making much per window as it is, let alone do any extras, even though these extra steps are necessary to do the job properly. Generally, any Business that uses subs is NOT very concerned about doing high-quality work. Typically, they are more concerned about how cheap they can get it done.
How to get a First-Class Installation
Do you know how to get GOOD window performance? A GREAT Installation! Remember this valuable tip: The window is only going to perform as good as the installation & insulation. Installation MATTERS!
Here are 7-things that will attribute to a first-class installation
1.) Having a quality window to install that has good thermal specifications.
Low U-factor and Low AIR rating.
2.) The windows must FIT the openings properly therefore they must be measured right in the beginning.
Caution: Be leery if your sales rep is taking the final measurements. Many sales reps have NEVER installed a day in their life. Needless to say, chances of the windows NOT being FIT properly are very good and a chance you would be taking.
3.) Hire a company that is a window replacement specialist.
4.) Hire a company with a good reputation for quality and character.
5.) Deal with a company that does NOT outsource (subcontract) your installation.
6.) Hire a company that has full-time hourly staff that installs windows everyday. Typically, this way takes a little bit longer than a subcontractor doing the work but more attention to detail is likely. Therefore, a Better end result and maximum window performance should be achieved.
7.) The windows MUST have the right amount of insulation around the perimeter or they will NOT seal properly. This can fall back on #2. If the window wasn’t measured right from the start, then proper insulation may NOT be possible.
Over the years at Window Perfections, we have replaced many windows that were already replacement windows. Some of the jobs we’ve done the windows were less than 10-years old. On one job we did in Altoona, the windows were less than 2-years old. There are things we’ve discovered over the years that can cause a window that looked GOOD in the beginning to turn out BAD in the end. If you’ve read this far, some of this is going to sound very familiar.
5-Reasons That GOOD Windows…Can Go BAD
1.) Because too much air was able to penetrate around the window unit, it caused the newer window to ICE up on the inside of the window. Customers we know this happened to were NEVER told what the air rating of the window was nor did the brochures state it.
2.) The windows were NOT installed properly, therefore, they didn’t open and close the way they were designed to.
3.) The windows were never measured or fit right from the beginning.
4.) The windows did NOT have ANY insulation around them or not enough.
5.) The sealants used didn’t hold up and caused water damage and rotten wood.
So it seems, that the very things that should have been done RIGHT in the Beginning caused more problems in the end. That IS the IMPORTANCE of hiring a company that has their own Full-Time staff that is responsible for making sure all these details are CORRECT. THIS is far more important than hiring a company just because they claim to have the lowest price in the world. Your Home is the largest investment of your life. Why would anyone want to go with the cheapest window? After all, we ALL know you GET what you pay for. Don’t gamble or roll the dice. At Window Perfections, we STACK the deck in YOUR Favor, so…YOU Win!
Weeding Through All The Marketing Gimmicks
How do you really know if it’s a gimmick or not? Well, if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is. Some ads promise LOW price others advertise “Buy 5 Get 5 FREE“. These ads actually humor us because how do you know that they don’t just inflate the price of the first five to cover the second five? You really don’t know that’s just it. Understand this, these particular type of ads are designed for one purpose and that’s to get their phones to ring. Today it seems we even have companies competing with who has the BEST deal/gimmick going. The Federal Trade Commission calls ads like this Bait Advertising. They are designed as a lure or bait to reel you in. These ads are legal as long as they CAN sell the window at that advertised price. Here’s what you don’t know. The billboards and ads you see everywhere with any size installed and a really low price are the most deceptive of all! The product they advertise does not qualify for Energy Star, doesn’t qualify for any tax credits, and doesn’t even meet code? Plus all the hidden add-on charges that you don’t see.
Tips On Getting In-Home Estimates
- Get all details of the estimate in writing. If the Rep is telling you they don’t use subs, get that in writing too.
- Make sure you know WHAT model they are quoting and you know WHO manufactures the window. This way you can verify thermal performance specs on www.nfrc.org.
- Demand the windows have certified NFRC labels shipped on the windows. This lets you know your getting what you paid for. Otherwise, they could substitute a less efficient (cheaper)model and you’d never even know.
- Do your research. Read reviews, check out Angie’s list, check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. How many complaints do they have? Read problems the customers experienced with that company if there are any. Do you see a particular TREND in the any negative reviews?
- Ask LOTS of questions.
- Ask yourself…Do I have a positive feeling about this company? Do I think they can measure up to my expectations? If you hesitate for even a split second to say yes, get another quote.
- Make sure you SEE the actual window you are getting an estimate on.
- Don’t fall for TODAY only sales. If they aren’t willing to come back a second or third trip to get your business, look elsewhere.
- www.bbb.org (Better Business Bureau)
With the above link you can research complaints that customers had with a particular company. Typically, zero complaints is ALWAYS best.
- www.nfrc (National Fenestration Rating Council)
The above link has a WEALTH of knowledge about understanding window performance and thermal efficiency. NFRC has tested over 1.5 million products from almost 700-different manufacturers. You can compare and verify performance ratings from any window company as long as you know the Manufacturer, Style, and Model.
- www.efficientwindows.org (Efficient Windows Collaborative)
The above link is another area to get educated about buying new windows. This site seems a little easier to navigate through than NFRC. The information you find will be very helpful.
Find Energy Star’s Most Efficient windows of 2015 at link above. They, also, have Performance Grade (PG) listed as well (Higher is Better).