By August 10, 2005

Money out the window

Aw yeah. If you know me (not necessarily in the Biblical sense) then you know that I have an unnatural love for gadgets and well engineered tomfoolery. I am also partial to Energy Star appliances, especially since I like it really cold in the house and it’s hot as hell outside right now. I’m guessing our electrical bill is going to be $150 – $200 this month; I think it was $110 last month but that was due to a three week billing cycle. We are really enjoying our LG front loader washer and dryer, and the dish washer and fridge are both (marginally) Energy Star compliant.

You will then understand that when a young lady appeared in my driveway last Saturday while my girl was out of town that I couldn’t say no to a free estimate for a window replacement on the house. She left and we had an appointment for Monday evening.

Our man Kevin shows up at about 6:15, just a little bit late, which means he’s early on “Southern Time.” He’s a nice enough fellow, taller than I with a bit of heft to him. He liked Peapod and told me that his Great Dane had recently passed away. My mother had Great Danes growing up, so Kevin and I were off to a good start.

I have done a little bit of research on windows before when I lived in Oregon, so I was already receptive to Kevin’s pitch about insulation, fire safety, construction, etc. for his new windows. The company he represents, Great View Windows (pardon the animated gif on the home page), is the sole reseller of the baddest ass mamba jamba windows in North America. Here are a few reasons why they’re so dreamy:

  • The frame is pure vinyl. A lot of lesser expensive windows are made out of a vinyl/plastic mix that separates and colors with age and exposure to sunlight.
  • 7/8″ thick double paned glass gets the job done, with argon gas filling between the panes and a low-emissions coating doing duty to block out UV light. Most traditional windows like the single pane + storm window jobbies we have in our house have an R insulation rating of 1.5 – 2.0. The DD has an R value of 5, which is unbeatable unless you put a heat mirror in the glass, which alters the view outside your window.
  • The wool weatherstripping common to all vinyl windows (this is the bit that acts as a cushion for the sash to slide up and down) is attached via kevlar stitching instead of a heat transfer or glue.
  • Unlike most replacement window manufacturers, the “Double Diamond” window model we evaluated has a fully insulated exterior frame. That’s the part that’s attached to the rest of your house. Most manufacturers don’t have any insulation at all.
  • The “Double Diamond” window is one of the only windows manufactured with a steel support inside the lower sash. Why is that important? It keeps thieves from inserting a jimmy or a butter knife and popping the lock open ala wooden windows. Of the few manufacturers that include a steel bar in the lower sash, only one company features a steel frame all the way around the bottom sash: Great View.
  • The top window sash extends 1/4″ into the top frame, forming an inverted “U” shape, if you will. This means that air has to make three 90 degree turns to make it into the house. Not gonna happen.
  • Common to many replacement windows, the DD window will slide out and lie horizontal for easy cleaning. Pretty pimp, considering I couldn’t be bothered to clean the outside portion of a window in almost 30 years.
  • Lifetime warranty on the windows, with a five year total replacement on the windows for any reason, including breakage. That means that if a neighbor kid hurls a rock through the glass during year 1 – 5 Great View will accept the serial number unique to every window, determine the exact specifications of the window in their database, and have a new window installed within 48 hours. Cracked windows are replaced by the same mechanism but may take up to a week.

There’s some other stuff, like the windows only take 1 hour to replace instead of the typical 3 – 4 of a conventional replacement, but I’m going to save that aspect of the windows for another post.

Okay, on to the financials.

Replacement windows with the features we looked for — low E glass, thicker panes, an argon chamber, and an R value of 4 or greater run anywhere from $800 – $1400 installed per window. Great Views have been in business for over 20 years in the DC metro/VA/MD area, and have never had a BBB complaint or insurance casualty. They opened a Richmond branch this January and are looking for market test homes. In return for keeping a sign in our yard for a week, getting before and after pictures taken, and writing a testimonial after the work is done we are getting 18 windows installed for $678 apiece after tax.

Yeah, that’s over 12 large, but it’s a home improvement item, will lessen outside noise, will lower our energy bill, and appeals to my sense of geekery. The windows will arrive in 6 to 8 weeks and should take a day and a half to install. I’ll write another review once they’re done 🙂

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2 Comments on "Money out the window"

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  1. configuratrix says:

    I like the idea of the tilt-in for easy cleaning. How are they for noise protection?

  2. drfaulken says:

    Apparently these windows block out sound 40% more effectively than our current single-pane + storm window ones. That part I can’t quantify until they are installed, and even then it might be a little bit biased on our part.