What’s New in Windows

As an architectural element, windows can be the most prominent feature of a house’s façade, and their style and placement influences every aspect of its interior from how bright or dark, warm or cold a room is to where furniture can be placed, as well as the not insignificant factor of the view one gets looking through them to the outside.

Wherever in the country you live, Honolulu or Houston, window replacement experts can guide you to the choices that are right for you and your home. All options are open when you’re designing a new house, but there are also a number of choices available if you’re remodeling or just replacing tired old windows.

Energy Efficiency

Perhaps the greatest advantage of replacing windows is that new ones are equipped with energy-efficient features that keep your home more comfortable while saving money on heating and air conditioning. Low-E coatings, thin layers of transparent metal that slow heat transfer through the glass, reflect heat back into the room in winter and reflect it out in the summer. In addition, while the space between the layers of some double-paned windows is filled with air, having a cushion of argon or krypton gas between the layers makes them super-efficient at lowering radiant heat loss.

Impact-resistant Glass

For homes in areas subject to hurricanes, tornadoes and other high-wind events, there are laminated window glass panes similar to the ones in car windshields that have the ability to withstand a hit from a 9-pound 2×4 piece of lumber shot out of a cannon at 34 miles per hour. These windows are now a requirement for new construction in a number of states but are also worth noting if you have windows that face onto a yard where your kids play baseball or there’s other potential high-impact activity.

Dynamic Glass

The latest technology in home windows is dynamic glass that gradually darkens or lightens in response to automatic or manual controls. These electrochromic windows are controlled by a transparent conductor placed between the glass panes; the system uses electric current and it blocks heat gain while remaining transparent.

In development but not yet available is dynamic glass that darkens or lightens on its own in response to the temperature of the glass. Combined with Low-E coated double panes, this technology blocks the heat from the sun and provides maximum cooling efficiency.

There’s also privacy glass, which uses liquid crystal technology to switch instantly from clear to a frosted
opaque that is even tinted if you wish. It works via electric current that can be controlled by a wall switch, remote control, motion sensor, light sensor or timer. Because it has no energy-saving function, privacy glass is usually used for applications such as interior doors and partitions.

Bird-friendly Glass

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where you’re often visited by wild birds, you know that they sometimes injure themselves (or worse) by crashing into windows because they don’t recognize the clear glass as a barrier. Well, there’s window glass now on the market that employs a patterned coating visible to birds but not to humans. It’s available with Low-E coated double panes and it’s been tested and approved by the American Bird Conservatory.

Self-cleaning for Windows

Robotic window cleaners (think Roomba for your windows) are now available and are an especially interesting consideration for high, hard-to-reach areas that would otherwise involve hiring window cleaners or climbing atop a treacherous ladder. Using motor-powered suction, these robotic devices clean from edge to edge and can be used inside or out. If you were thinking of installing extra-tall windows, knowing you can use one of these robotic cleaners might make your decision easier.

Design Trends

Unless you’re replacing the windows on a vintage Victorian or other period home, the trend in windows is increasingly leaning toward more glass and less frame. Fewer homeowners are opting for grids and muntins in favor of large, unobstructed windows that expand the viewing area and let in maximum light.

While the most generous expanses can only be achieved with inoperable windows (largely because of their weight), you can place operable units on either side or install a duo, trio, or quartet of operable double-hung windows in a row to achieve a similar effect.

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