Homeowners can add value and livability to their residences by installing basement egress window systems. Such systems include windows and window wells large enough to allow for quick rescue or escape from the basement should an emergency arise. The additional lighting provided by egress windows can change basement areas that once seemed closed and dark into extremely enjoyable living spaces. You’ll be surprised to find how additional lighting provided by basement window wells can enhance the safety and livability of your basement space.
Tempered glass is required for windows that are close to stairways. The light provided by these basement window wells could be crucial in preventing daytime falls. In some instances, egress window panels are made of Plexiglas, a transparent acrylic that is strong, durable and lightweight but scratches more easily than regular glass. Its resistance to shattering could be beneficial in locations that might be subject to hail damage or other blows.
Looking through an egress window, you will normally be able to see the interior of the basement window well and perhaps a bit of sky. A light-colored basement window well with an attractive finish looks better and furnishes more light than a well of dark color or one built of corrugated metal. Because egress window glass can be customized, the view when looking at or through the window is limited only by the homeowner’s imagination.
If privacy is preferred, consider acrylic glass block: in-swing casement windows made of vinyl frames that hold several 8-inch square acrylic blocks let in natural light, offer privacy, and are energy efficient.
For egress windows that let in clear natural light, look for windows with a high visible transmittance, or “VT,” rating. You’ll want to avoid windowpanes with low VT ratings (such as 0.29) as they will appear gray instead of clear.
Before making a final decision, consider also the U-factor as well as solar heat gain coefficient, or “SHGC,” and air leakage, or “AL,” ratings. Windows that have been rated by the National Fenestration Rating Council will have labels that clearly show these ratings.
The U-factor rates the escape of heat from a room through the closed window and its casing. Low numbers are best. SHGC is a measure of the amount of outdoor heat a closed window can transfer into a room. A higher number means more heat gain. AL ratings tell the consumer how much outside air passes into a room through the closed window. Typical ratings range from 0.1 to 0.3. A lower rating is preferred.
Another rating found on some windows is that of condensation resistance (or “CR”). This rating tells whether the interior surface of the window is likely to collect and condense moisture from the air. In this case, higher ratings are preferred.
Customized egress windows of leaded or stained glass provide filtered natural light that allows homeowners to choose the look they want for windows in any particular room, no matter the use. Stained glass panels can be fitted between two layers of regular glass or added as an extra panel on the side facing the room. They also can be added to windows made of safety glass.
Carefully consider the best locations for providing daylight when planning installation of basement egress windows. Also think of the weather conditions throughout the year. If snow and ice are a problem in the winter months, add translucent window well covers and plan to remove snow regularly.
Whether the basement is used as sleeping quarters, a recreation area or a home office, basement dwellers appreciate having more light. Besides providing natural light and beauty, basement egress windows save electricity and give a feeling of well-being to all those who use this part of the house.