Many homes – especially older homes, like those in Fair Oaks, Orangevale, and much of Sacramento – are struggling with the heat this summer. That is because many of these homes were built in the 1960s, where single pane windows were far more common than today’s double (and triple!) pane alternatives.
It is not just the single pane windows either. The technology of double pane windows in the 1970s, 80s, and even the 90s simply cannot compare to the windows of today, which means properties throughout the region are finding that their homes are just too hot for our increasingly rough summer weather.
Replacing these older windows with newer windows provides a much needed improvement to energy efficiency, and will change both the look and value of your property. When you call California Energy Consultant Services for a quote, one of the questions we’ll ask you is whether you’d like us to provide you with “retrofit windows” or “new construction.”
What Does “Retrofit” Mean?
If you look at your existing window, you’ll see that it looks like it fits neatly in a specific size opening. But that’s not exactly the case. Parts of your property – including your siding, your drywall, and your studs – are built around the window in order to hold it into place. We call this the window frame.
When you’re looking to replace your windows, you have two options for window removal:
- You can remove the window, and leave the window frame intact.
- You can remove the window, siding, drywall, etc., and re-install the frame around the window.
The latter option involves a lot more parts, materials, and labor, so some homeowners prefer the former option. But if you choose the former option, that means that you have to install a window that fits into an existing opening without needing to re-frame it. This is known as a “retrofit window,” because it fits into the old (retro) opening that is left by the window you removed.
Retrofit windows can have several advantages. They are less expensive, since less labor and materials are involved. The installation time is also faster. There are less likely to be aesthetic differences that make it clear you’ve installed new windows. Retrofit windows are a great choice for those that want a budget friendly option and have an existing frame that is in great shape.
But this option is not ideal for everyone. Retrofit windows have to be a specific size (to fit the exact size and shape of the opening), but because the frame is not built into the wall, the windows may appear smaller. They also may not look built in, which many people prefer. If your original window frame is no longer in good condition, retrofit may not even be an option. Air leaks are also more common, though we do our best at CECS to make sure that the window is perfectly sealed.
If you’d like your window to be built into the wall rather than retrofit, you need what’s called “New Construction.” In addition to the framing, new construction allows homeowners to choose larger or smaller windows, reduces the risk of air and weather leakage, and has essentially no limitations on the type of style of windows you choose.
Making Your Choice for Windows in Sacramento
There’s no wrong choice, as both retrofit and new construction are great options depending on the needs of your property. But it’s important to have an understanding of both options, as there are specific differences between them that you’ll want to consider with your CECS consultant before determining which new windows are best for you.