At some point in the life of your home, you’re probably going to consider replacing some or all of your windows. Older windows can begin to leak (air, if not water), wooden frames can rot and become loose and single-pane glass can negatively affect your energy-bill bottom line. The decision to replace them sounds like a no-brainer—a window is just a piece of glass, right? Wrong. New windows are a chance to add personality to your interior design and curb appeal to your outside architecture, while also dramatically affecting your entire home’s energy efficiency and security. 
 
Frame of Mind
If your window frames are in good shape, you might not need to replace the entire window. According to the Consumer Reports Home Window Buying Guide 2016, “You’ll save money on materials and labor by using partial-replacement units when the existing frames and sills are sound and square. They’re also known as pocket replacements and fit into existing frames. Otherwise you’ll need full replacement windows.”
Window frames come in all shapes, sizes and materials. If it turns out that you do need to replace an entire window, wooden window frames, though they cost more than any other material, are by far the most popular choice and can easily be customized using stain or paint, both inside and out. Vinyl window frames are the most commonly available and they are the least expensive, allowing homeowners with small budgets to spend a little more to add some optional colors or other design elements. Fiberglass, or composite, frames are strong, maintenance-free and very energy efficient. They are a relatively new addition to the market, meaning there are fewer manufacturers and these frames cost more than vinyl, but usually less than wood. 
 
See Clearly Now
Think about what you need the window to do for you. Single-hung windows allow you to adjust the bottom sash (the moving part of the window) only, which makes them ideal if you want a portable air conditioner in the window.  
This type of window is fine for single-story homes because they can be cleaned fairly easily from the outside. For multiple-story homes, though (especially in dusty areas or areas with lots of precipitation), double-hung windows, where both sashes move independently, are a better choice. They can be adjusted to allow the maximum amount of airflow possible and are simple to clean from inside the house. Many models even have a tilt-in feature so the outside of the sash swings in and can be accessed easily.
 
WINDOW TYPES
SINGLE-HUNG or Sliding (one sash is fixed)
Ventilation Allowed: Good
Best Used For: Single-story homes as it’s easy to clean from ground level; mild climates
Energy Efficiency: Fair
Cost:
Vinyl: $175–$350
Fiberglass: $600
Wood: $450–$500
In-Window Air Conditioner? Yes
 
DOUBLE-HUNG or Sliding (both sashes move) 
Ventilation Allowed: Excellent
Best Used For: Areas that need good ventilation and are difficult to clean from the outside
Energy Efficiency: Good
Cost:
Vinyl: $400–$650
Fiberglass: $600–$1000
Wood: $800–$1000
In-Window Air Conditioner? Yes
 
CASEMENT (Crank to open to outside; side hinge)
Ventilation Allowed: Excellent
Best Used For: Bathrooms or kitchens where good ventilation is required; rooms where unobstructed view is desired
Energy Efficiency: Excellent
Cost:
Vinyl: $500–$900
Fiberglass: $750–$1250
Wood: $1000–$1200
In-Window Air Conditioner? No
 
AWNING  (Crank open to outside; top hinge)
Ventilation Allowed: Good
Best Used For: Bathrooms or kitchens where good ventilation is required; rooms where unobstructed view is desired
Energy Efficiency: Excellent
Cost:
Vinyl: $350–$600
Fiberglass: $550
Wood: $450–$650
In-Window Air Conditioner? Yes
 
HOPPER (Crank to open to the inside; bottom hinge) 
Ventilation Allowed: Good
Best Used For: Basement or bathroom windows where space is narrow or small
Energy Efficiency: Excellent
Cost:
Vinyl: $350–$600
Fiberglass: $500
Wood: $450–$650
In-Window Air Conditioner? No
 
 
What a Pane: Efficiency Features
Double-glazed windows have a sealed space between two panes of glass that’s filled with air or gas. Gas provides better insulation and is standard on many windows, but the energy savings won’t justify paying more for it.
Triple-glazing adds a third layer of glass, which reduces noise significantly. Energy savings are improved, but not enough to justify cost in all but extremely cold climates or where there is a constant and very loud noise (near airports or major freeways).
Low-E coating is transparent and improves the efficiency of the glass by reflecting heat. The coating is applied to the outside glass to reflect the sun’s heat or it can be applied to the inside glass to keep heat in. Keep in mind that any coating, no matter how transparent, reduces the visibility through the glass.
Source: Consumer Reports Home Window Buying Guide, May 2016.
 
Keep in mind that window designs, like everything else, have been touched by high technology—you can find windows that sense precipitation and close automatically; are manufactured with integral blinds that raise and lower using a remote control or a smartphone; or even skylights that capture any available daylight and channel it into a rechargeable battery, used to open and close the window. 
 
WHERE TO BUY WINDOWS ATLANTA:
Carolina Lumber & Supply Company | CarolinaLumber.com 
Jennifer's Glassworks | JennifersGlassWorks.com
Nehemiah Exteriors | Nehemiah.com
Painting Plus | PaintingPlus.com