If you’re thinking of replacing windows in your home, you should consider the type, energy efficiency and frame material before you decide which window is best for you.

Midrange vinyl is a kind of window that has a vinyl frame. Midrange wood windows have wooden frames with a vinyl- or aluminum-clad exterior. Upscale vinyl windows are simulated mullions with wood grain interior, custom-color exterior and low-E coated glass. Upscale wood is simulated mullions with hardwood interior, custom colored aluminum clad exterior, and low-E glass.

There are two critical ratios in comparing the energy efficiency of all window types, regardless of differing components U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient. U-factor usually ranges from 0.25 to 1.25—the lower the number means better window insulation, and more energy savings produced during cold climates when heating needs dominate home-energy bills. SHGC is the amount of heat the window blocks from sunlight. Lower SHGC—typically 0.25 to 0.8—means more savings in warmer climates due to reduced cooling system use.

Usual window frame materials include vinyl, which are maintenance-free frames that provide good insulation. They swell and shrink less compared to other window frame materials. Composite are window frames made of wood and polymer which resembles wood in terms of strength and insulating value, but resists moisture and decay. Wood frames are stable and naturally insulating. Fiberglass are strong frames. They are durable, and can be painted to simulate wood.

Consider these factors before deciding which window to choose.

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