In their October 2014 issue, Consumer Reports® rated replacement windows in an article titled Window Shopping. There are two significant problems with their analysis: First, they failed to consider high altitude markets in making their recommendations. You can’t fault Consumer Reports; just 1.4% of the U.S. population lives at an elevation of 5,000 or more feet. Second, they failed to consider the implications of a key aspect of window frame material in one of their higher rated windows.
What they got right includes the level of energy savings to expect when you replace your windows and the value of finding a certified installer. Consumer Reports predicts energy savings of 7% to 15%. We have written previous posts about savings in the single digit ranges. We also firmly believe you should insist on certified installation services.
Looking at their ratings, they have a wood window with a vinyl protective exterior as the best rated wood windows. In our semi-arid climate, the expansion and contraction coefficient of vinyl, a therma-plastic, works to reduce the life cycle of vinyl. Here too, we have written extensively about vinyl windows in Colorado.
Consumer Reports mentioned the importance of frame material but failed to understand which of their highly rated windows use roll form, a thinner aluminum on their sashes (the part of the window that moves). Roll form aluminum is less expensive that extruded aluminum and we believe consumers should at least understand what they are getting and why the method of construction should matter to them. The video below explains the difference, and we provide it even though their example windows compete with our Marvin and Integrity offerings. What to make of roll form aluminum and the window companies that use the material in their product? Honest answer; ask them.