Home & Garden

Bow or bay window can save energy costs

Q. I have an old picture window I want to replace with a bay or bow window. My budget is tight. Which type is best and most efficient?

A bow or bay window is sometimes called the “poor man's sunroom.” A nice bow or bay window can actually provide some of the benefits of a sunroom at a lower cost. Even though it costs less than adding a small sunroom, installing an efficient bow or bay window is not inexpensive.

No matter what type of window, bow or bay, you install in place of the old picture window, it will be more efficient and reduce your utility bills. You should be able to recover most of the cost because it will increase your home's resale value.

A bow window is made of four or more windows. Five windows is a common configuration. More windows create a more circular appearance that many people find attractive. Often, only the two end windows can be opened, but you can order them so they all open.

Bay windows are made from just three windows. The two angled side windows usually can be opened and are angled at either 30 or 45 degrees. The fixed center window is similar to a smaller picture window. A 45-degree bay window extends out farther from the house wall and provides more space for plants or a bench seat.

There is not a significant difference in the energy efficiency or durability of a bow or bay window. I suppose a bay window may be slightly more efficient because there are fewer joints and seams to be sealed between the window frames. Wherever there is frame material and supporting lumber in the wall, there is less room for insulation.

Unless you are handy with tools, it is better to purchase an entire unit designed as a bow or bay window. This may cost a more than assembling one from individual windows, but it will likely be stronger and more airtight.

As with any window style, the glass is the heart of the window. Select the most energy efficient glass your budget will allow even if you have to cut back on the styling or trim options. Because a bow or bay window protrudes from the wall, it is ideal for natural ventilation. Select a casement window for each end because they catch breezes well.

Also look for a window that has insulation, often foam, in the seatboard. Your plants will also appreciate it.

The following companies offer bow and bay windows: Champion Windows, www.championwindow.com; Fibertec, www.fibertec.com; Peachtree, www.peachtreedoor.com; Thermal Industries, www.thermalindustries.com; and Weathershield Windows, www.weathershield.com.

Q. I treated my wood deck with a sealer last fall to protect it from the weather. This spring, the sealer is peeling off all the horizontal surfaces. What did I do wrong, and how can I fix it? - Dave D.

Your problem is not uncommon, particularly when a heavy surface sealer is used. The most likely cause of the peeling is that you did not adequately clean the deck surface and you used a sealer that coats the surface instead of penetrating it.

Use a pressure washer to clean off the peeling sealer. Use a decking cleaner, such as an oxygen-based bleachcleaner, to further clean the surface. Treat it with a penetrating sealer such as Saver Systems epoxy sealer.