Window styles: energy efficiency never looked so good

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | March 11, 2014

Improving your home's energy efficiency probably sounds like a pretty good idea, but how about giving it an exterior facelift at the same time? Upgrading your house's windows and you can do both at once. Even better, a replacement window installation can often be done without any major remodeling work. Depending on the age of your existing windows, the potential savings on your utility bills could be substantial - the government's Energy Star website estimates that the average annual savings might run into the hundreds of dollars on a typical home. But since windows are also a major part of your home's exterior appearance, you'll want to choose them with care. Your new units can either complement your home's existing design or take it in a whole new direction.

Replacement windows for just about every exterior design

If you haven't purchased windows in a while, be prepared for a pleasant surprise: not only are manufacturers making them more energy efficient, there are also numerous styles, shapes, and configurations available. And remember the old days when you could have any frame color you desired as long as it was white or almond? That's ancient history - some companies such as Eagle Windows now offer more than 50 exterior colors to choose from.

In fact, there are now so many different styles available that a replacement window installation can be used make a major impact on your home's appearance. Here are a few examples of what you might choose for some common house designs:

The Cape Cod: An American classic

Cape Cods have been family favorites for many years due to their affordable compact design and attractive steep pitched roof lines. If you have a Cape Code home or are hoping to give that look to your small two story house, here are a few window design tips:

  • Double hung - While awning and casement windows can be found on Cape Cod homes, most have basic double-hung units.
  • Rectangular mullions - If you have a Cape Cod home, "nothing fancy" is the catchphrase when it comes to mullion design. Just plain rectangular mullions that are evenly spaced in both sashes should be ideal for this unadorned architectural style.
  • Upgrades - Families who want a different look might consider true divided lites when choosing replacement windows for their Cape Cod homes.

The Craftsman: cute as a bungalow

There are several styles of Craftsman homes, but the most known is probably the bungalow which can be found almost everywhere in the country. Bungalows are known for their low profile roofs, compact designs that utilize space efficiently, and the use of natural materials during construction. If you have a Craftsman bungalow or want to give your small home that look, consider these design tips for your new windows:

  • Cottage style sashes - Double-hung windows with cottage style sashes are a unique feature found in many bungalow homes. Cottage style sashes normally have the top sash significantly smaller than the one on the bottom.
  • Unusual mullion configurations - Cute is the name of the game with bungalows so let your imagination go wild when picking mullion designs for your new windows. Many window manufacturers even offer custom options for their mullions.
  • Upgrades - Consider adding a few stained glass accents on the front elevation of your Craftsman bungalow.

The contemporary: open spaces rule

Large open spaces with plenty of windows and doors to let in the light are a hallmark of contemporary styling. Keeping obstructions from reducing the view through those windows and doors is also important. Here are a few tips for giving your home a modern look when purchasing new windows:

  • Choose casements and awning windows - Lots of glass define casement and awning windows so they can be an ideal choice as replacement windows for contemporary homes. Picture windows are also a popular selection.
  • Avoid mullions - While mullions may not reduce the glass area, they can obstruct the view - both looking in and out.
  • Upgrades - If you have a family room or dining area with an exterior wall, consider installing a window wall.

Planning a replacement window installation for your home? Choose the style that's a good fit for its exterior design or the new look you hope to achieve.

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.