Replacement Windows in Boston: Which Types are Best for Your Home?

From on May 18, 2011 in Window Replacement


If you live in Boston, Massachusetts, you’re well aware that extreme temperatures drive up your energy bills. Old, drafty windows simply cannot keep the cold out, and the same holds true in blazing summer heat.

So which types of replacement windows will save you the most money this year? And with hundreds of window features out there, what should you be looking for?

To find out how much replacement windows cost in your area, click here.

Below we’ll break down the best replacement windows for Boston, including energy-efficiency recommendations.

Replacement Window Ratings

Today’s windows are usually sold with a rating to show how energy efficient they are, and how well they’ll work in your local climate. There are two main ratings for replacement windows: The U-values and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). These values are used to indicate how well the windows insulate and reflect heat. For a northern climate like Boston, your ideal U-value ranges from 0.30 to 0.32. The lower the U-value, the better the window insulates. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat is allowed to pass through your window glass.

You’ll know you’re purchasing the most energy-efficient window if the ratings look like this:

  • U-value of 0.30 or less with any SHGC
  • U-value of 0.31 and SHGC of 0.35 or higher
  • U-value of 0.32 and SHGC of 0.40 or higher

In Boston, winters are snowy and cold while summers are hot. A good window will provide ample insulation to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home. Typically, SHGC values range from 0.25 to 0.80, while U values can be anywhere from 0.25 to 1.25.

Choosing Your Window Types


There are about 10 main window types to choose from. In Boston, double-hung and casement windows are typically the most popular. Casement windows open fully, allowing plenty of fresh air and ventilation. Because they open with a crank, they’re perfect for hard-to-reach places, like in the kitchen or bathroom. Double-hung windows, on the other hand, slide up and down. Both panes of glass can open and close, allowing you to open the top half of the window while keeping the bottom tightly sealed (a beautiful thing for kids’ rooms). They may, however, cause more air to leak, so energy efficiency is extra important for double-hung windows. To see pictures of all the other window types, click here.

Energy-Efficiency Recommendations

With so many add-ons available, it can be hard to say how much energy efficiency your windows really need. Replacement windows in Boston certainly require more efficiency than windows in moderate climates. For instance, double-pane glazed windows provide much more insulation than clear, single-paned windows. The glazing on the windows directly increases efficiency. Along with choosing double- or even triple-paned windows, you can also opt for a glaze style that reduces transmission of heat. Triple-glazed windows are the best choice if you want to significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs. Look for a low-E coating to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Another option is to order insulating gas between the panes. Krypton or argon gas are your best bets.


Federal Rebates for Window Installation

Along with saving money on heating and cooling costs, choosing the right replacement windows in Boston can also earn you a rebate from the federal government. The law caps the rebate on energy efficient windows at $200 total, but you can receive a rebate on supplies for 10% of your purchase up to $500. To claim your rebate for switching to energy-efficient windows, you will need all of your receipts. The rebate is filed along with your regular yearly taxes using special forms offered through the IRS website or your personal accountant. The $500 limit is a lifetime limit that may be used over the course of several years, but there are also some regional rebates for Boston residents who make their homes more energy-efficient.

The residential energy efficient tax credit for Boston citizens is also capped at $500, with 10% back on all items used to make the home more energy-efficient. New rebates are being added on a regular basis, as well, so make sure to save your receipts to file along with your taxes.

Photos via Andersen Windows and David Paul Ohmer