There seems to be a lot of contradictory information out there when it comes to vinyl replacement windows. While a significant number of these myths regarding high efficiency vinyl replacement windows come from fiberglass, aluminum and wood window manufacturers, a few less than reputable vinyl replacement window manufacturers have also helped spread their own fair share of propaganda. To help you separate fact from fiction when shopping for the right high efficiency replacement windows for your home, here are three of the most popular myths about vinyl replacement windows.
Vinyl isn’t final
Many vinyl replacement window manufacturers claim that their windows are “maintenance free” while often their competitors claim it is simply not true. The validity of this claim depends greatly on the vinyl replacement window manufacturer, the quality of their windows and the warranty the manufacturer provides. Regardless of the material used in the construction of a replacement window, over time they all will require some type of maintenance. Most legitimate vinyl replacement window manufacturers, however, advertise their windows as “maintenance free” for two reasons. First, there isn’t much in terms of maintenance that can be done to vinyl windows with the exception of replacing worn window parts. Secondly, most high quality vinyl replacement windows come with lifetime warranties, which cover most window issues including worn parts. This means the manufacturer will handle any maintenance issues, repairs or replacements that may be required due to defective materials or workmanship. While nothing lasts forever, a 2006 study conducted by Building Research Establishment, Ltd.found that the average lifespan of a high quality vinyl replacement window exceeded the 25year industry standard for replacement windows by at least 10 years.
Vinyl replacement windows aren’t as “green” as manufacturers claim
Unlike most other windows, vinyl replacement windows were designed from the beginning to be as energy efficient and as affordable as possible. Not only are they made to last 25 years or more with little to no maintenance required, but they are also made from one of the most environmentally friendly materials available. Vinyl is a synthetic man-made plastic made from ethylene, an element found in crude oil and chlorine, which is found in ordinary salt. Not only is vinyl very inexpensive to produce, requiring less energy and less natural resources to manufacture, it also releases lower emissions into the environment. It is also easily recycled and more than half of the materials used to produce vinyl are from naturally renewable resources. While some high-end wooden windows may come close to vinyl’s energy efficiency, when you consider the higher cost and ecological impact of wooden window frames, vinyl is by far one of the most ecologically friendly and energy efficient window frame materials available.
Old windows are just as energy efficient as vinyl replacement windows
Many historical and preservation societies call the claims of vinyl window manufacturers about the energy efficiency of their windows nothing more than hype, often without providing any imperial evidence that statements are factual. The truth is that while some historic wooden frame windows may actually come close to the energy efficiency of some builder grade vinyl windows, wood frame windows simply do not perform as well as high efficiency vinyl replacement windows. This is due to the fact that most comparisons done between wooden frame and vinyl frame windows only take into account the frame materials. Today there are a number of additional technologies used in window manufacturing that also help to increase their energy efficiency including:
- Low-emissivity (Lo-E) glass – Glass designed to help keep heat out on hot days and heat in on cold days.
- Pressurized Insulative Gas – Special gas mixture sealed between glass panes to provide additional insulative properties.
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation protection – Special coatings on glass to block UV rays
- Super Spacers– Special spacers placed between window panes that expand and contract with the glass during temperature extremes and provide superior insulative properties.
While some of these features are used on high end wooden frame windows today, only high efficiency vinyl replacement windows incorporate all of these energy saving features. When comparing the energy efficiency of vinyl replacement windows in their entirety to other types of replacement or historic windows, vinyl windows are far more energy efficient.