Our city has changed a lot in the past decade or two—there’s an IKEA in West Sacramento now, and it seems to me like a new restaurant or brewery is opening every other month. With all these new businesses comes new residents—and these new residents need places to live. Subdivisions filled with houses that look largely the same are popping up all over town, and homeowners are looking for ways to up their curb appeal in order to stand out from their neighbors.
One improvement that can immediately enhance nearly every aspect of a home is updating its windows. Tract houses are almost always built en masse, using generic materials. Installing new, high-quality windows can improve not only the look, but the livability of your tract house—from decreased noise levels to increased energy efficiency. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways upgraded windows will enhance your home.
Reduced Noise Saturation
One of the benefits of tract housing is the way a subdivision of similar homes creates a greater sense of community. But, a drawback to this camaraderie is that you are closer to your neighbors—and to whatever noises they might make. A window upgrade can reduce noise levels by as much as 75%. There are three main ways that windows can reduce noise:
- Add mass. Thicker glass keeps out more noise.
- Add air space. The distance, or air space, between window panes can create a noise buffer, so double or triple pane windows offer a significant noise reduction over single pane windows.
- Use laminated glass. A glass-plastic-glass combination, also known as laminated glass, creates a strong noise barrier for your home.
I always suggest considering an upgrade to double or triple pane windows to reduce noise. And while West Sacramento probably won’t ever get as noisy as Midtown, barbecues and kids playing in a neighbor’s backyard aren’t always what you want to hear while watching football on a Sunday afternoon.
Added Style and Flair
Tract houses are built to look the same, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. The windows are the eyes of a home, and changing their size, shape, or clarity can give your house a whole new look and feel.
- Multi-style windows: Consider clear windows for the top pane of glass and stained or fogged windows on the bottom. Play around with the different combinations available—mixing up various styles of glass can create a one-of-a-kind look for your tract house.
- Creatively-shaped windows: Add bay or bow windows to really set your tract house apart. Reshaping your windows may require a contractor, but there’s no denying that bay windows would be more eye-catching, and have the added bonus of letting more light in on cloudy fall days.
- Big and bold windows: Tract housing almost always features standard size windows. Break the mold, and connect the typical rectangular windows into a single picture window for a unique, modern look.
Improved Energy Efficiency
Even if your tract house is relatively new, the original windows may be single-paned, which is somewhat old-fashioned. Single-paned windows are colder and leakier than double or triple pane ones. West Sacramento isn’t exactly Alaska when it comes to harsh winters, but it does get cold enough to run the heater, and insulation works both ways—more efficient windows will also keep our harsh summer sun out.
A great way to make your home more energy-efficient is by installing windows with better insulation. In fact, windows are responsible, on average, for 25% of all residential energy loss. That’s bad for the environment, and for your wallet. So, do your homework, or better yet, have your local window installation professionals provide a home assessment, to pick the right window upgrades for your home because these three types of windows may look largely the same from afar, but they are very different when it comes to efficient energy usage.
- Single-pane windows: Have you ever tried to sip coffee from a drinking glass? If so, you learned that glass easily conducts heat from the inside out. A single-paned window is doing the same to your home. These are the norm for most tract houses, and keep out the elements, but often fail to keep heated air in or give your home an energy-efficient barrier—and that makes a big difference in your monthly bills.
- Double-pane windows: These windows have two panes of glass separated by a narrow space. These air spaces are often only between ½ to ¾ of an inch thick, but can reduce the amount of heat that passes through a window by as much as 25%. And, low emissivity (low-E) coatings can make these windows even more efficient.
- Triple-pane windows: The amount of heat lost through a window is measured by the U-Factor on a scale between 0 and 1. Where double-pane windows have a U-Factor of .15, triple-paned windows have a factor of .30. These windows are 50% more energy-efficient than single-pane windows, and also help to reduce the amount of light that gets into your home, perfect for those southern facing walls.
I hope you’re looking at windows in a new light, from their potential to up your curb appeal to their ability to lower your energy bill. Tract houses, in particular, can almost always benefit from a window upgrade, especially when you bring your local window professionals on board to assess your home’s unique needs. Whatever the season, from our current fall cool down to the inevitable summer heat waves, your windows will play a role in the comfort—not to mention style—of your home.
Do new or upgraded windows sound like an easy way to make big improvements to your tract house? Give the professionals at Bell Brothers a call to see what options are open to you.