Gorgeous windows for your home or commercial building can enhance the appearance of the property. It can also increase its value.

But weighing functionality, aesthetics, placement, price and efficiency can be daunting. There are a slew of things to consider.

Understanding the terminology used to describe various windows will help you make your decision. Here are common words and phrases you are likely to encounter:


The actual glass in a window is called glazing. Many homes and older buildings have a single pane of glass within each frame. It is a traditional style; however, it is not energy-efficient.

Double-glazed windows are the popular option. There are two panes of glass in a frame. The gap between the panes acts as a layer of insulation. It improves the window's ability to maintain the building's temperature.

Sometimes, newer structures have triple-glazed windows. They are more expensive, but they also provide additional insulation benefits.


R-values measure the amount of heat a window loses through its glass panes. Higher R-values mean more energy efficiency. An R-value of 3 is very desirable.


U-values tell you the level at which a window conducts heat. The lower the U-value, the better.

People who live in wintery climates should choose replacement windows with strong R-value and U-value ratings to conserve energy.


Low-emissive, or low-e windows are the latest innovations in the energy-efficiency mark.

Low-e glass traps heat by placing a thin metallic coating on the appropriate window pane. Indoor radiant heat is reflected back inside, cutting the burden on a building's heating system. If you live in a cold climate, install a low-e window as a complement to low U-value components.

People who live in sunnier, warmer climates can also take advantage of low-e windows. The summer's higher levels of infrared rays are reflected back outside, keeping the interior of the house cooler.


Blocking UV rays will spare your carpets and furniture from sun damage. That's why a window with high ultra-violent blockage is recommended, especially for people who live in warm climates.


When energy efficiency is a key concern, casement windows are the best choice. This simple high-and-crank design lowers air seepage. When the wind pushes against the glass, the seal becomes tight and reduces leakage.

Casement windows are hinged on the sides. When the windows have top hinges, they are called awning windows. Hoppers are bottom-hinged windows.

Hinged windows must be maintained, as the seal erodes over time. When left unchecked, the erosion can make the window less energy efficient.


Large differences between interior and exterior temperatures create meddlesome condensation on glass. Always choose a window appropriate for your climate.

Window placement is another factor when building a new structure. Consider the building's position and location as they relate to the sun. Windows facing the south let in more heat than north-facing windows. Properly placed, a window can increase a structure's passive solar efficiency.

Extreme temperatures cause frames and seals to deteriorate more quickly. Windows using warm-air technology and adequate spacers reduce temperature fluctuations, placing less strain on seals and framing.

Before beginning any improvement project to your home or business, understand the building codes in your area. You may need a permit to do a major window-replacement project. If you don't have the required paperwork in order, you might have to pay a fine, remove the work that's already been done and start over.

Knowing basic terminology and concepts before you shop for windows will save you time and money in the long run. It is really less complicated than it looks.

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