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September 04, 2015

Window Shopping

Window Shopping

Image courtesy of Velux.

Your refurbishment is most likely to include new efficient windows—windows that keep in the heat and keep out the draughts, while adding an attractive new aspect to your property. Here is our buyer’s guide.

There are an endless number of attractive window options available for your home. Double-glazed sash windows, casement windows, bay windows, skylights… and much more. These days window technology is more sophisticated than ever, and the right windows can help light up a room, increase the value of your home and save you money on energy bills.

Make it a feature
Aside from acting as a crucial natural light source, a well-chosen window can be an attractive aesthetic feature in its own right.  Bay windows are popular for the illusion of space they bring to a room, also providing an extra internal ledge that’s perfect for house plants and pictures, placing a desk or installing a cosy seating space to watch the world go by.
Bay windows are also a great way to maximise natural light in your home, and their striking appearance means that they tend to be popular options for living rooms or master bedrooms. One thing to bear in mind though, if you’re installing a bay window in a house that’s not designed specifically to have one, make sure you consider the impact it will have on the balance of your property’s exterior—you may decide you need one on both sides of the front door to bring balance and avoid things looking lopsided.
Regardless of whether your feature window is a bay window or not, there’s a high chance that it might be a sash window. Made popular in Georgian and Victorian times, to this day, sashes remain favoured for large feature windows thanks to their classic, timeless appeal, particularly in older or more traditional-looking homes.
Traditional sash windows are made up of two vertically sliding sashes, allowing the window to open at the top and the bottom. Each section is made up of small panes, held together by moulded glazing bars, creating the window’s signature appearance. If you have sash windows that might need updating (you may be able to have them double-glazed, or insulated to prevent draught) or fancy installing them into your home for the first time, a number of companies specialise in these kinds of windows.

Skylights
Installing a skylight is an effective way of introducing natural light to a dark or enclosed space, such as a top floor corridor or a loft conversion. Skylights that open can also be a good way to let in fresh air and cool down your home in the summer, and most good-quality modern varieties are well insulated enough that they shouldn’t have a noticeable impact on your heating bills.
Paul Hicks, Sustainability and Design Manager at Velux, suggests that buyers consider the positioning of their skylight carefully before deciding on a design.
‘Centre Pivot Roof Windows are operated using a bar at the top of the window. They are ideal either for installations high in the ceiling, operated by a control rod or electric operation, or lower in the roof where the bottom of the window cannot be accessed—for example, if furniture will be placed in front of the window.
‘Top Hung Roof Windows open outwards with a handle at the bottom of the window, making them ideal for installations where the bottom of the window is easily within arm’s reach. They open 45° outwards for an unrestricted view and maximize the amount of natural daylight that can be allowed in.’
Other key points to consider when choosing a skylight include water tightness, energy efficiency, sound reduction, wind resistance and extra options such as shading or UV coatings. If you’re unsure what you should look for—and which features it’s worth splashing out on—be sure to go through all the options with your chosen retailer.

Double (or triple) Up
These days, double-glazing is a pre-requisite for new windows, and most reputable companies will focus on providing the best insulation possible through their glazing. Phil estimates that double-glazing the windows in your home can add as much as £10,000 to the value of your property, so it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re considering property improvements.
Triple glazing is also becoming increasingly popular, but although it does provide more insulation than double-glazing, it is also significantly more expensive, so opinions differ as to whether most homeowners would financially benefit from it.
Triple glazing is likely to become more common in the future, so if you’re choosing between installing double-glazing or triple, it may prove to be a far-sighted purchase in the long run.

Phil’s Top Tip:
‘A large skylight at the top of a house, especially one run along virtually the whole length of the corridor, will bring light flooding in. This can be dramatic, and although it’s not a cheap option—expect to spend from about £3,000—it will attract attention on the top level.’

See also: The Benefits of Secondary Glazing

See also: Installing Double-Glazed Windows

See also: The Difference Between Double Glazing and Secondary Glazing