Buying Guide: Replacement Windows

Purchasing new, replacement windows are an investment that can instantly improve the beauty, value and comfort of your home. When purchasing new windows for your home there are many factors to consider, such as the window construction, energy efficiency options, warranties and whether the window is custom-built for your home.

For a free, no obligation in-home estimate, call our Energy & Comfort Consultants at 1-888-BGE-HOME (888-243-4663) or submit the form for more information.

Construction of Replacement Windows

New windows should be constructed of durable, high quality materials that allow for a long service life. Consider some of the following factors when looking for new replacement windows.

Fusion-welded for Strength

An entirely fusion-welded window, both sashes and mainframes, is an advanced manufacturing method that creates a solid one-piece unit. A fusion-welded window will never split or weaken over the years, unlike windows that use staples, screws or caulk to bind the corners of window frames.

Maintenance Free Vinyl

Windows constructed with rugged, maintenance-free vinyl are the ideal solution. Vinyl windows will never stick, corrode, pit or rot like wood or metal windows. Wash them with soap and water and theyll look great year-after-year

Frame Materials

The material used in the construction of window frames will vary by dealer, but are primarily made of vinyl, wood or aluminum. Window frames have a significant impact on the insulating capacity of the window, since the frame can represent from 10 to 30 percent of the total area of a window unit. The frame properties have a significant influence on the total window performance. Therefore, determining the appropriate frame will depend upon the climate region and application.

Frame Construction

The strength and efficiency of a window depends on the material and the construction technique. Vinyl replacement windows offer superior efficiency and durability with the combination of glass options, insulation options and fusion-welded frames. And, most vinyl windows will be maintenance free, meaning youll never have to scrape, paint or stain the window.

Weather Stripping

Weather stripping is an energy-saving feature that can significantly improve R-Factor of a window. Look for heavy-duty, plastic weather stripping for maximum durability and superior thermal efficiency.

Window Balance System

The balance system for a replacement window is essential to the smooth operation and operational longevity of the window.

Block and Tackle

Block and Tackle Balance System
  • Quietest balance on the market
  • Smooth operation low friction
  • Easy to replace; no adjustments required
  • Spring tension system will not trap dirt or debris
  • Balance is hidden from view
  • Reinforced synthetic fiber balance cord, the strongest strand cord
  • Cycle tested to more than 10,000 cycle counts*
  • Choice balance system for most premium wood and vinyl window manufacturers

Constant Force

Constant Force Balance System
  • Long-term spring coil dirt build-up is likely leading to higher friction and tension
  • Prone to corrosion and breaking
  • Matching of balance/sash-weight is critical little margin for error
  • Precision placement required to ensure proper operation and to prevent long-term sash drift
  • Not field adjustable
  • Noisy may chatter during operation


Spiral Balance System
  • Shaft lubricant picks up dirt
  • Prone to long-term tension loss
  • Often requires post-installation field-adjustment
  • When totally extended, balance shaft vulnerable to bending
  • Seasonal non-use can create high failure rate
  • Requires balance cover (often unsightly) to conceal
  • Noisy may chatter during operation

Custom-Built Windows

windows being built

Every vinyl replacement window should be individually measured, custom-made and professionally installed to ensure the perfect fit. Windows designed for maximum energy efficiency and constructed with high-quality, heavy-duty materials will ensure your windows last. Regardless if you a replacing a double-hung window or need a bow window installed, each window should be customized for your home.

Energy Efficiency of Replacement Windows

Energy efficiency is a very important consideration when reviewing your replacement window options. Below are some factors that affect the efficiency of new replacement windows:

Glass Coatings

A low-emittance (or "Low-E") glass coating is a microscopically thin film applied to the glass. This coating keeps the heat inside in the winter and outside in summer. Selecting the proper Low-E coating is dependent upon climate zones. The rating is determined by the amount of heat from the sun allowed to penetrate through the glass.

Gas Filling

Filling the space between window panes with a more slow-moving gas minimizes the overall transfer of heat between the inside and outside. Many energy efficient windows have Argon, Krypton, or other gases between the panes. These odorless, colorless, non-toxic gases provide better insulation and a lower U-Factor.

Warm Edge Spacers


Window spacers maintain the proper distance between the glazing layers of windows. Previously, aluminum spacers were used, but were discovered to cause significant heat loss and condensation buildup. Todays warm edge spacers--made of steel, foam, fiberglass, or vinyl -- lower the U-Factor and prevent condensation.

Weather Stripping

Weather stripping is a feature that has experienced significant improvements over the last 20 years. More durable, better performing plastic weather stripping is used for superior thermal performance. Heavy-duty weather stripping can increase the R-Factor of a window to provide greater energy efficiency.



Approximately 46% of the average homes annual energy budget is consumed by heating and cooling costs. Every window featuring the ENERGY STAR label meets the specific energy efficient performance standards developed by the EPA and US Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR labeled windows are twice as efficient as windows purchased just ten years ago and forty percent more efficient than products required under most common national building codes. Visit for more information.

National Fenestration Rating Council

The NFRC label has been designed to help you determine how a particular window can be expected to perform. The NFRC provides consumers with a means for simple and accurate product comparison. Each label highlights the manufacturer, describes the window, and provides additional information, such as energy performance attributes. Visit for more information.

Warranty for Replacement Windows

The availability of a manufacturer warranty is often a valuable option that can provide coverage in the case of a window malfunction. The peace-of-mind protection is invaluable in the case of window failure, and even glass breakage. Warranty duration can vary by manufacturer.

A reputable manufacturer will guarantee the quality and craftsmanship of your new windows. A warranty should protect against any manufacturers defects. Consult with your contractor to ensure your new windows will be covered under a warranty.

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