Replacement Windows: What you Need to Know

Keeping our homes safe, secure and warm is essential and inevitably, over time, windows will need replacing. You may have bought an older property without double glazing or your existing double glazing may be coming to the end of its useful life – whatever the reason, it’s important to be informed before going ahead with the project.

Why do windows need replacing?

Modern windows, whether made from uPVC, aluminium or timber, benefit from up-to-date technology to improve energy efficiency, minimise maintenance, enhance performance and make cleaning easier. Your older windows may be allowing draughts into your house and letting heat escape; they may be getting increasingly difficult to open and close or the materials may be rotting or decaying. You should consider window replacement if the closing and opening mechanisms are not working properly; if you hear a lot of outdoor noise; if they are leaking or become misty. If any of the above requirements is fulfilled then you should be looking for new windows.

What do I need to know before I start?

If you are planning replacement windows you need to make yourself aware of current Building Regulations. The Government is working hard to improve energy efficiency in line with global targets and wants to ensure that replacement window projects are in line with this goal. Since April 2002 all new replacement window installations have had to comply with Building Regulations. All new-build properties since that date have windows which follow these rules and the Government is hoping that over time, the glazing in increasing numbers of properties will be covered, reducing energy loss.

What does that mean for me?

If you’re planning to employ a professional installer to replace your windows, check that they are registered with FENSA, an industry body established by the Glass and Glazing Federation at the invitation of the Department for Communities and Local Government. FENSA-registered businesses can self-certify that their glazing installations are in compliance with Building Regulations. If you want to install the windows yourself you will need to go to your Local Authority Building Control department. They will advise you and ensure that your replacement windows come within the Building Regulations.

Can I get any grants?

Unfortunately, there are not many grants available for this type of home improvement. A Government Green Deal scheme offered some grants but that has now closed. Some local councils may offer means-tested financial aid – you will need to contact your local authority to see they offer grants and whether you may eligible. However, you may be able to get discounted quotes from suppliers and installers by pitting them against each other. One way of doing this is by going through EnergyLink, a business established to help put customers in contact with reputable local companies offering energy efficient products and services. EnergyLink offers a service of finding three local quotes, suggesting that the competition between companies could result in substantial discounts.

What type of replacement windows are available?

There is a plethora of window and glazing companies around the UK offering modern, energy efficient products and installation. These hi-tech windows minimise heat loss and noise invasion, are extremely secure and are easy to maintain and clean. Usually, they will come with substantial guarantees for both the materials and the workmanship. A variety of replacement window styles are available in a variety of materials and finishes. UPVC windows tend to be the most popular but many customers opt for an aluminium finish or traditional timber frames. If you have an older-style property and want to maintain its authentic appearance, most glazing companies can offer modern replacement windows with sash openings and even Georgian panelling.

You may want to read about: Timber Windows.