Energy efficient window recommendations

CAHomeJuly 25, 2014

We are in the process of buying a property in Saratoga, CA (95070). The home currently has single pane windows. Down the line I want to replace them with decent energy efficient windows. I must admit I am a complete newbie when it comes to windows. I am interested in hearing what the experts on this site think are good brands/windows for the Bay Area climate. Is a DIY installation recommended or should I be scouting for installers.


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We have a very mild climate in the bay area so energy efficiency is important but not usually the highest priority in my experience with most customers. Most any modern window will be more efficient than the single pane windows you have now, but quality is still important.

The first question really is what kind of window material are you interested in. Wood/clad (most expensive but most attractive and design oriented), fiberglass (mid priced), vinyl (lowest price but limited color and design options).

A good number of homes in the Saratoga area are higher end and use a wood clad window but I've still seen plenty of vinyl as well. I'd search for a local window/door dealer to replace them. Avoid home depot/lowes for windows and an installer/contractor would be best if the window dealer doesn't provide installation.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:52PM
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I haven't done enough research but I think Wood/Clad would be the first choice. Should I care about double pane vs triple pane? Low-E coating etc?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Triple pane is over kill in our climate. Low-e coating is important but any woodclad window will come with a low-e 270/272 coating as standard which is sufficient. Kolbe Ultra series windows are a great choice and very popular in the Bay Area. Marvin is a good choice as well but can be slightly more expensive than Kolbe depending on the dealer.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:08PM
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I would agree that in the Bay area, triple pane is not a necessity. Can it hurt, not at all.

San Francisco is still a heating degree dominated climate so be sure to not block out too much of the passive solar with a Low SHGC range glass.

I was having this discussion earlier and if you are okay with triple pane and the upgrade over double pane isn't that much, it can't hurt to go with the more efficient.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:27PM
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Thanks for the useful tips.

There seem to be two kinds of windows. Remodel and new construction. My understanding is that the new construction windows require a more tedious installation process than the reconstruction. Is this worth it in the long run? Especially in terms of energy efficiency?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:51AM
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Full tear out and replacement (new construction window) is always the preferred way of installing a window if possible. Vinyl windows tend to lend themselves more to remodel (retrofit) vs new construction windows. If you're interested in wood clad most of them are new construction type windows but they still have retrofit options. When homes have stucco some times they prefer to do a retrofit because patching stucco is a pain. But if you have siding or board and batt type exteriors it can be easier to do a full installation.

This is probably best explored with who is installing the window because you really need to see the house and the existing windows to see the best method.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 12:14PM
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Thanks for all the great pointers and suggestions. I have been doing a bit more reading and it seems that Marvin Ultimate woodclads or Kolbe Ultra would be good choices.

Can someone recommend good installers/contractors in the south Bay Area who deal with these products? Also, just to get a ballpark estimate (and avoid sticker shock) how much budget should I be setting aside for replacing 12 standard size windows.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 5:12PM
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Most of the guys here are East Coasters so you are going to have to do some research to find installers.

We can help you vet their responses and approaches but you have selected a couple of great windows so far.

Keep hunting and let us know how it goes.

Need to know more about the home to recommend and installation type and application.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:22PM
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It is a ranch built in the 1950's. Stucco exterior. Currently has single pane (aluminum?) windows. Please let me know if you need any other information.

Once I get a couple of bids I will ask for more advice :)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:34PM
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With stucco you can either do a frame jump or cut the stucco back.

For a long term solution, I prefer option 2.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:49PM
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