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Making A Good Bet On A Bay Window

Those old, large, single-pane picture windows, common in houses built many years ago, are ex-tremely inefficient. Not only is there a huge heat loss (and gain, in the summer) through the glass itself, but there is likely no insulation around it inside the walls. If one faces south or west, you can count on the drapes, furniture, and carpeting near it to be badly faded.

A bow or bay window can provide some of the benefits of a sunroom at a lower cost. These include making your room appear larger, providing a seat under glass at the window, and creating an ideal location for plants. However, installing an efficient bow or bay window is not inexpensive.

A bow window is made of four or more narrow window panels, often of the same width. Using more window panels creates a more circular appearance, which many people find attractive.

Bay windows are made from just three window panels. The two angled side panels can usually be opened and are angled at either 30 or 45 degrees. A 45-degree bay window extends farther from the house than a 30-degree window, and provides more space for plants or a bench seat.

Choosing the right glass
There is not a significant difference in the energy efficiency or durability of a bow or bay window.

Select the most energy-efficient glass your budget will allow. At the minimum, select double-pane glass with a low-emissivity coating and inert gas in the gap between the panes. Be sure to select the proper glass for your area because the location of the low-emissivity coating can vary depending upon your climate. All the new glass types will reduce fading.

Because a bow or bay window protrudes from the wall, it is ideal for natural ventilation during the summer to reduce air-conditioning costs.

In addition to high-quality glass, look for a bow or bay window that has insulation in the seatboard and the top.

Unless you are very handy with tools, it is generally better to purchase an entire unit designed as a bow or bay window.


Payback time for windows
Any new window design you install in place of an old picture window will be more efficient and reduce your utility bills. These savings can help pay back its initial cost, but will take many years. By including the utility bills savings with the increase in your home’s resale value, you should be able to recover most of the cost over a reasonable time.

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