Monthly Archives: August 2009

DC and Northern Virginia Replacement Windows Buyer’s Guide – Tips for Summer/Fall Installation

As the dog-days of summer in the DC metro region fall upon us, Congress leaves this muggy, humid area for its summer recess, and air conditioners are working full tilt to keep up with the demand – it’s a great time to replace your windows. Notwithstanding quick-moving summer thunderstorms and hungry mosquitoes, this time of year is typically quite reasonable for installation of Northern Virginia replacement windows, doors and glass enclosures from Vinyl-Lite Window Factory. The heavy spring rush on home contracting has subsided a bit, summer vacations are in full swing, and you’ll likely be able to set up the schedule you want for repairing and replacing your windows – just in time for Fall rental preparations and back-to-school activities. In fact, leaving window replacement to the professional while you’re on vacation, at the beach or camping, is a great option to consider – this way valuable air conditioning isn’t lost through the open windows and doors while your Northern Virginia window replacement or repair is underway.

During this very hot Northern Virginia summer and fall season, the average Washington DC and Northern Virginia area homeowner can realize very significant savings on energy bills by replacement of old, drafty, fogging and leaky windows with new, energy-efficient vinyl ones. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the average mid-Atlantic household spends at least 40% of its energy costs on heating and cooling bills. Extreme savings (particularly helpful during these difficult economic times) from replacement of your Northern Virginia windows or doors can be had not only on the reduction in energy bills, but also at tax time next year – by receiving Federal residential energy efficiency tax credits and green building incentives for energy conservation home improvements.

On February 17, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009. This bill extends and modifies the tax credits for windows, doors, and skylights established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Qualifying products purchased between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010 are eligible for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the product cost. Installation is not included; be sure to obtain an itemized invoice from your retailer or installer. The maximum amount of homeowner credit for all improvements combined is $1,500 during 2009 and 2010.

Your replacement window products should carry the Department of Energy – Energy Star seal of approval. Think “Low E”, Argon Gas Fillers and Super Spacers. Look for a low U-factor and in Northern Virginia, a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) rating is essential – 0.30 or less is the goal (and is required to take advantage of the energy conservation tax credits for home and window improvement). U-factor measures the rate at which a window, door or other home/patio opening conducts heat or cold flow. For windows, a U-factor may be reflected in the glass or glazing alone. However, National Fenestration Rating Council U-factor ratings represent the entire window or door performance, including the frame, glass, and spacer materials. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the door, window, patio enclosure or skylight. Old windows often have U-factors over 1.0. Energy-efficient vinyl replacement windows can reduce heating and cooling costs up to 15%, depending on climate, insulation and shading, sun angle, and so on. Energy Advantage Low-E Glass is a high performance, energy efficient window glass made with an invisible coating that blocks heat flow. It is sold directly by Vinyl-Lite Window Factory, and made by Libbey-Owens Ford, a company with more than a century of experience making glass for improved living.

Older homes, especially those found throughout older areas of Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William counties, usually contain lead paint. Painted window sashes tend to rub against painted frames, and therefore windows are the most common source of lead dust in the home. It has been well documented that even tiny amounts of lead dust can cause serious health issues. Professional lead remediation is available, but complete window replacement might be both a more affordable option and as stated earlier, a much more economical solution for your total home cooling, heating and tax bill. Rubbing and flexing of older windows also creates stress that leads to frame sagging and distortions, cracking and destruction of weatherstripping, caulking, and the various fittings that may be present for security measures. Altogether, older painted wood or aluminum windows do very likely cost you much more in “nickel and dime” direct or indirect repair and maintenance costs over the years, than do long-lasting, modern and energy efficient vinyl replacement windows.

Aluminum windows in particular are subject not only to paint peeling issues, but also fading, corrosion, air and sound leakage, and rapid breakdown of their seals and fitting components. Very frequently they become both difficult to open, and hard to close completely and lock. Especially during these hot Northern Virginia summer months, the direct sun can heat your existing windows to very high temperatures, melting the silicone seals – these seals re-congeal when the temperature drop overnight. As this is repeated each day and night over the long summer and into fall, the cycle results in drafts, window fogging or condensation, and ultimately very inefficient windows. Aluminum windows also conduct heat extremely well, resulting, in effect, your windows actually becoming mini-heating units as heat is conducted through the window and radiates into the house!

Vinyl Windows on the other hand, are terrible conductors of heat/cold. Vinyl doesn’t get nearly as hot during the day and the seals will stay intact throughout the hot spring, summer and fall months, even as Northern Virginia temperature swings really gear up towards the end of fall. Vinyl windows do not corrode like Aluminum, and they tend to flex and conform to the natural settling or temperature-induced expansion/contractions of area homes – without interfering in the smooth operation of opening, closing and locking.

Vinyl-Lite Window Factory in Northern Virginia and Washington DC, operating out of Prince William County, is Northern Virginia’s oldest and most successful vinyl replacement window and door service provider in the area. Vinyl-Lite has won numerous awards for business and community contribution and excellence. Vinyl-Lite offers superior, expert and factory-trained assistance in designing, choosing, installing and maintaining your Northern Virginia replacement windows. Additionally, Vinyl-Lite can help you navigate the energy-efficiency tax credits available for your home renovation project, whether it includes the core windows and doors, or also includes specialty garden windows, patio enclosures, screening solutions, vinyl siding or other custom window and glass replacement or repair projects.

One other point – while replacing your windows, look also to improve overall home security with window alarm security screens – find the best at National Security Screens in Prince William County.