Vinyl is a good alternative to other types of window materials because of its price and energy efficiency. It’s made from a plastic material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC has a high R-value, which means it provides a significant amount of insulation. Price and energy efficiency are just a few advantages of vinyl windows.
The advantages of vinyl windows are:
- Lower energy costs. Vinyl windows keep heat in during winter and out during summer. This reduces heating and air conditioning usage for lower energy bills.
- Maintenance free. Vinyl windows are nearly 100 percent scratch free. They never have to be painted, scraped, or stained and they’re easily cleaned with soap and water. Because they’re resistant to the elements, they don’t age as fast as other windows.
- Inexpensive. Vinyl is the least expensive of all window materials, but this doesn’t mean vinyl windows are low quality. Vinyl is durable, and it won’t rust or corrode.
- Variety. Vinyl windows have many color, size, and style options. They can also be custom made. Colors range from champagne to forest green, and sizes range widely. Vinyl windows are available in styles from awning to picture.
Modern windows have two or more layers of glass. In the United States and Canada, the Energy Code sets certain standards for performance of products installed in homes. These codes now require Low-E Glass in all residential homes.
Low-E is a film that is several layers of metal poured microscopically thin over the surface of newly poured glass. This heat reflective film is transparent but can be darker or lighter depending on the type and manufacturer. This data is rated in Visible Light Transmission. Darker glass with heavier Low–E will have less VT. The NFRC rates most energy star rated window manufacturers.
Low-E glass is up to four times more efficient than clear glass.
Other options include triple-glazing (a third pane of glass), higher quality spacers between the panes, which reduce the failure rate and conduction that allows seal failure. This creates “fogging” or condensation to form between the panes. Modern windows also have optional gases between the panes that have higher insulated qualities than air, such as argon or krypton gases.