Usually, the need to replace windows in your house begins with rooms where you spend the most time. For most homeowners, this is the living room at the front of the house.
Replacing a living room window comes with its own unique set of challenges. These windows tend to be the biggest in the house, have to have functionality for ventilation, while as unobstructed view as possible.
Another question most homeowners face when replacing the windows at the front of the house is whether to keep the same style of the window or go with a completely new look. Because your existing windows can be at least thirty, forty, or fifty years old, chances are their arrangement and functionality may not be ideal for the overall efficiency of your home. Or you just may want to give your room a unique lift, whether with new windows, by building a bay, or with a series of bow windows.
Whatever the reason for a replacement, there are still quite a few factors to consider to get the most out of the windows you put the front of your house.
Oversize windows for living room
Because windows at the front of the house tend to be the biggest in the home, there is always a concern about which window to get to match the size requirements. In one of our previous blogs, we outlined the maximum sizes for vinyl windows in Canada. Maximum sizes for windows usually take in three factors, a maximum width, maximum height, and overall maximum square footage. However, it is impossible to manufacture most windows with maximum dimension allowances, as that exceeds the allowed square footage.
The chart above demonstrates the maximum allowable dimensions for operable windows. The maximums for picture windows are around 42 square feet. Notice also that the maximum square footage for double pane windows is higher than for a triple pane option. Because double pane windows are lighter it is possible to make them in bigger sizes without scrutinizing their structural features.
Combination windows for the front of the house
So what do you do if you want an operable window for an opening that exceeds these maximums? The solution is a combination window. Combinations windows do just what the name suggests: they put several windows together into one unit. While this allows for putting operable and fixed windows together, and usually solves the problem with oversize openings, it has one drawback. Combination windows usually need reinforcements in the middle, or in areas where the different types of windows meet, thus taking away from the viewing area.
Another thing that is important to consider with combination windows are the different profiles. A window profile refers to the height of the frame. Most companies will carry windows in both a “high” and “low” profile. Operable windows also come in different profiles. Usually, casement windows will have a high profile and slider windows a low one. This is important to note when you are combining these operable windows with ones that don’t open to create a seamless look in your big opening. If you’re getting a combination window with casement windows, the fixed windows will have to have the same high profile and, therefore, the overall glass area will be smaller than in a combination with sliders.
One important factor to also consider is the actual placement of your operable units in a combination. Placing a casement at one side or the other, and determining whether it will open to the left or the right, can have a big difference on how air moves around and into your home. There is no golden rule for maximizing this, as it greatly depends on the geographic location of your house, its elevation, immediate surroundings and even which way it faces relative to the sun.
The picture below is an example of optimal placement for casements. You can see that directing most of the windows one way, rather than opposite ways helps with the airflow into the home regardless of the direction the wind is blowing.
Maximizing the efficiency of your living room windows
Whether it is a combination or a large picture window, windows at the front of the house let in more light than windows in other rooms. Considering that your house may be facing south or west, and those sides get the most sunlight during the day, putting energy efficient windows in this set up can make your living room feel like a greenhouse even in the dead winter. In this setup, you might actually be better off with a combination window as the structural components, and less glass surface area can help reduce the excessive UV rays.
Another application that is useful in preventing your room from overheating while maintaining the warmth inside is Low-e coatings. We have written about benefits of Low-E, and how Low-e works in previous posts. Without going into too much detail, it suffices to explain that these coatings are applied onto your windows during manufacturing and deflect some of the UV radiation. Unlike tint films, the back side of Low-E coatings prevents the heat from escaping, keeping the accumulated warmth inside, long after the sun has gone down.
In short, there are plenty of different ways to get exactly the windows you want for the front of the house. Whether you want a single window, or a combination set up, by considering size limitations, the differences in the profiles of windows, and the location of your home, you can maximize your replacement and make your home more energy efficient.
At Ecoline Windows, we care about giving you the most out of your window replacement. That is why our project consultants will not simply sell you our product, but do their best to combine functionality, efficiency, and aesthetics for big windows in the front of the house. We carry high-quality ENERGY STAR rated windows in both high and low profile to match any combination you like. We will also be happy to suggest optimal arrangements for all the windows in your house, as well as any add-ons to maximize efficiency in any room.