The replacement window industry is unlike a lot of other industries that sell products to consumers. In many cases, a consumer can take one look at a product and tell if it’s well made or poorly made. On a more cheaply manufactured product, certain parts may look flimsy, or the product could just not feel as solid as you think it should.
When it comes to replacement windows, a lot of the products on the market look very much the same—especially if you’re only looking at vinyl replacement windows. To confuse things even further, pretty much all replacement window products on the market make similar claims, such as “durable” or “energy efficient.”
A lot of San Diego homeowners reach the conclusion that they should just go with the least expensive product they can find. This almost always proves to be a mistake. Like with most products, you get what you pay for, and a cheap window will show its true colors after not too long. The seals between the two panes of glass in double pane windows will start to fail, the locking mechanism will break, or other problems will pop up that will make you regret your penny-pinching ways. In other words, you won’t care about the money you saved when only a few years down the road, your windows are not holding up well.
Good Energy Efficiency Numbers from the NFRC
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is an independent organization that evaluates all major window brands. It is a voluntary rating program, but most replacement window manufacturers participate in it because they are unable to get ENERGY STAR Certified without being evaluated by the NFRC. Their ratings are the best way for consumers to compare “apples to apples” when it comes to replacement window products. Ask to see the NFRC certification for any window you are considering purchasing. This certification will tell you how energy efficient the product is, and then you can compare it with other products on the market.
The most important number for San Diego homeowners to look at when it comes to the energy efficiency of windows is the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) rating. This number indicates how well a window product keeps out unwanted heat. The lower the SHGC number, the more effective the window will be at keeping your home cool in the hot summer months.
Crafty window salespeople will have all kinds of demonstrations that “prove” how energy efficient their windows are, or will tell you things like, “our windows are better because they have this or that special feature,” but the proof is in the third-party data.
Gold Rating from the AAMA
Another good third-party rating for replacement windows comes from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). The AAMA evaluates windows for their resistance to things like wind, water, and air penetration. A Gold rating from the AAMA indicates that a window will be solid in multiple categories related to performance and durability.
Lifetime Warranty from the Manufacturer
Another indication of the quality of a replacement window product is the warranty that the window manufacturer offers to go along with it. A manufacturer that knows their products are durable will not hesitate to offer a lifetime warranty to the consumer. On the other hand, a manufacturer that uses cheap materials or cuts corners in the manufacturing of the window will likely offer a much shorter warranty period.
Even if you don’t plan on staying in your home long enough to take advantage of a lifetime warranty, you still may want to look for windows that have one, since it’s a simple way to judge a manufacturer’s confidence in the quality of their products.
Don’t Just Take a Salesperson’s Word
At our San Diego replacement window company, we pride ourselves on being honest and straightforward with our customers. Unfortunately, not all salespeople are the same, and some will say just about anything to make a sale, or they may not know some of the more technical information about windows and are unable to explain why one window is better than another.
We recommend that you do some of your own research before deciding which windows to purchase. After you’ve received several quotes on new windows, go to the websites of all of the window manufacturers you’re considering and look at their NFRC ratings (especially their SHGC number). See if they have a Gold Certification from the AAMA, and verify that what the salespeople told you about the warranties is accurate. You can also read through the warranties online and see what exclusions apply.
Replacement windows are a substantial investment in your home. Don’t just go with the first company that comes along and tells you how great their products are. Do your homework and make the best decision for you and your family.
If you’d like to get a quote on replacement windows from BM Windows, we’d love to hear from you. Call or message us to set up an appointment.