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The Top 5 Questions to Ask When Replacing Your Windows and Doors

By Gates Dearen
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You’ve noticed that your doors and windows are letting in the elements, or are bringing down the overall appearance of your house. You’ve decided to replace them, so all you need to do is measure each window and door and then head out to the nearest hardware superstore, right? 

Wrong! It’s important to assess your home’s individual needs and to understand the best solutions for energy efficiency, as well as home security. We have compiled a list of the most important questions to ask as you choose your replacement windows and doors.

What is my budget?
While it may be tempting if you are on a tight budget to “go cheap” when replacing your windows and doors, a better plan may be to choose the best windows and doors you can afford now for part of your house, and wait until you can do the same for the rest of the house later. High-quality windows and doors are an important investment in your home’s appearance, security, and energy efficiency. As with most purchases, spending a little more on the front end can reap greater benefits down the road. A windows and doors professional can help you to determine which should be replaced first and which can wait.

What features are important to me?
The features you choose are largely a matter of personal taste (unless you have children, in which case safety is also important). Work with a professional to decide which features will increase your comfort and your windows’ and doors’ function and durability. Single-hung windows open from the bottom only. Double-hung windows can open from the top or the bottom. Again, it’s all about preference. If you want to transform a simple opening into a stunning room accent, you can choose from a variety of custom shapes for your windows. 

casement distinction window

When it comes to entry doors, there are also many options. Maybe you want a standard solid door with small windows at the top. Or maybe you prefer something a bit more reflective of your personal style, such as a door with a stained glass insert or a decorative lockset. Look at your options and find the door that says “home” to you. Many people prefer to spend a great portion of their budget on an entry door over other doors and windows in their homes because it’s the first thing they (and their guests) see upon arriving at their home. Again, it just depends on what you like.

Patio doors offer fewer options aesthetically speaking, but do differ in terms of safety features such as shatter-proof glass and functionality. Do your homework. Here in Florida it’s especially important that your patio door is made of impact-resistant glass. Low-e coatings and energy-star ratings are also important, but we’ll get to those later. Beyond these features, the options include clear glass or obscure glass, which provides additional privacy.

Do the windows and door glass have a Low-e coating?

Visible LightLow-e, or Low-emissivity, refers to glass panels’ ability to reflect light. Low-emissivity windows and doors cause heat to be reflected off, rather than allowing it to collect and “seep through” (be emitted) into the home. The Low-e coating keeps the heat from being absorbed and emitted, instead reflecting it away from the glass. This technology is related to the insulation used in spacecraft to keep heat from accumulating on both reflective surfaces, inside and outside, but actually the application of the technology is more complicated in windows and doors because glass has such a high level of emissivity, thus posing the challenge of maintaining Low-e while letting in light. Manufacturers of high-quality windows and doors apply coatings to reflect radiant energy, which helps to keep heat on the same side of the glass it’s coming from – outside in summer, inside in winter – while allowing light to pass through. This improves thermal efficiency (insulating properties) because radiant heat stays where it belongs, outside or inside depending on the season and the weather.

What energy-efficiency ratings do these windows and doors have?
There are several standards set by the industry that let you know your windows and doors will work hard to save energy (and money in cooling/heating costs). The one you’re probably most familiar with is the Energy Star rating. In order to carry the familiar symbol (shown below), windows and doors must be, at a minimum, 15% more energy efficient than those without the designation. Most doors and windows have a sticker that shows their actual energy efficiency. If not, ask. Any reputable window and door professional will readily share this information with you.
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Another performance standard is the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) Certification. This is a non-profit group that, as stated in their website, “empowers consumers who are in the market for energy efficient windows, doors, and skylights. When you see the NFRC label on these products, this is your assurance that it’s going to perform the way it’s advertised to perform.” (

How can new windows and doors make my home more secure?
Unless you have recently updated your windows and doors you’ll find that security options have improved. When thinking about security, think beyond the doors and windows themselves. Look for fire-rated doorframes and window frames, high-performance hinges, secure and weather-resistant thresholds and astragals, and of course high-quality locksets. Look for ease of use in window locks. Most new high-quality windows have simple slide or flip locks. The same is true for patio doors; while the older types may not have been easy to secure, the new ones are.

As for the doors and windows themselves, look for impact ratings, as well as long-term warranties. It’s a good idea here in Florida to choose doors and windows that will stand up against severe weather. Security isn’t just about keeping out human intruders. There are plenty of items in your yard that you wouldn’t want in your house if the wind picked them up and tossed them!

In this article, I discussed the top five questions to ask when replacing your windows and doors, and why those are important questions to ask. I explained what to look for as you plan out your new window and door purchase.

Gates Dearen is the co-owner of HomeRite Windows and Doors in Jacksonville, Florida. Owners Gates Dearen and Richard Walden have been serving the building products industry in Florida for over 25 years. We know the products, the industry, the market and what adds great value to a home.  Our approach is a little different.  We strive to match the homeowner with the right windows for their home and budget. Home improvements can be a hassle.  We’re here to make life easier with first-rate, energy efficient products; affordable prices; strong warranties and expert, award-winning installers that provide excellent service while respecting your home as if it were their own. 


  1. You have a choice, spend a little on energy efficient windows now or spend a lot on utility bills later. Any questions?

  2. Very informative; thanks for sharing.

  3. Such important things to consider that many of us would not have thought of. This is a great way to sum it up in just 5 ways. Makes sense!

  4. Great questions, I had to learn these the hard way. I glad my friends will now have this article to refer to.

  5. I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great post.
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  6. I went through this checklist and it seems that Veka windows are in line with all the requirements, as defined there. I'm thinking therefore about tchem.