Knowing what to look for in Vinyl Windows
Vinyl windows are not all the same. They may all look alike from the exterior, are easy open and have security locks, but understanding what a vinyl window is really made of can help you choose your replacement vinyl windows more carefully.
Dual paned windows are a standard feature with most vinyl window manufacturers. They offer noise reduction and energy savings. The U-Factor will tell you how much heat is able to escape from your vinyl window. You want to look for a low U-Factor number. The range runs between 0.20 and 1.20. Obviously, a vinyl window with a U-Factor of 0.85 would not be as energy efficient as one that had a rating of 0.33.
One of the main reasons you are probably choosing vinyl windows is because of the lack of insulation that your old windows currently have. In deciding on new windows, always check the Air Leakage (AL) rating of the vinyl windows you are considering. Not all windows have this rating. There are also other beneficial ratings that you can check. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is a rating that is becoming more standard to the industry. This rating measures the external solar radiation that is admitted through a window. Ranging from zero to .87, a zero rating is the best that you can buy but anything under .4 is pretty good. Another rating is the Visible Transmittance (VT) that has little to do with energy savings but it does tell you how much light is being transmitted through your window. A zero rating indicates that no light is coming through the window while a 1.0 is full light. These usually fall around .5, as no one wants full light without some type of buffer.
Any salesperson is going to present the best that their vinyl windows have to offer in an attempt to make a sale. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau regarding any complaints on installation. You want to make sure that your vinyl windows are installed correctly or that the company you are dealing with is reputable. Also check for feedback from previous clients and how the vinyl window manufacturer is rated on a professional level. You want the best deal that you can find for vinyl windows but sometimes if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask for a list of homes or buildings in your area that have had their vinyl windows installed so you can see for yourself what type of job has been done. Vinyl windows are a good alternative to old drafty windows that can last the life of your home but only if you investigate what different companies are really offering.