Save money with a window, door replacement

Chicagoans and those in its suburbs spent 2020 sprucing up their homes and yards because that is where they spent the vast majority of their time. Because of the pandemic, they were unable to spend disposable income on vacations, concerts and other activities they would have done normally.

And these homeowners are expected to continue to upgrade the dwellings where they still spend so much time.

If that is your plan, too, you probably want to make your home improvement choices and stake out your place in line sooner rather than later because delivery times for most furniture, home improvement materials and so forth is much longer than usual - even now.

"If you noticed air leakage through your windows this past winter while working on your computer eight hours a day, you may want to think about new windows. Or if you are tired of that old front door that serves as your home's 'face,' maybe this is the year to replace it," said Iver Johnson Sr., owner of American Thermal Window of Chicago and Sahara Window and Doors, formerly of Mount Prospect, but now located at 6619 W. Jarvis St. in Niles. The business relocated last year because its former location is being torn down and replaced by apartments.

Eye-catching bay, picture and other specialty windows add personality to a home while also keeping the interior of the home comfortable. They also keep heated or cooled air inside where it is supposed to be, improve a home's indoor air quality and save the owner money in the long run, Johnson said.

"Window manufacturers are continually upgrading their products," he said. "Today's windows, which are generally available in fiberglass, wood, vinyl and aluminum, have much higher energy ratings than those being replaced, of course, so they save on heating and cooling costs. Fiberglass has become especially popular and is taking a lot of market share because it is stronger and more substantial than the other materials."

The front door and accompanying side panels of a home serve a similar function but they also give visitors and passersby their first impression of the home and gives one a glimpse of the homeowner's personality.

Johnson, a former Chicago police officer, has been providing windows and doors to Chicago-area homeowners through his American Thermal Window Co. for 40 years. Twelve years ago he acquired Sahara Window and Doors, too.

Both stores have retained their individual names, but the two showrooms function as the same company with identical offerings and crews that skillfully install a variety of products in single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and commercial properties.

American Thermal/Sahara is discerning when it comes to product selection, Johnson said, carrying nine window lines, including Marvin, Pella and Andersen.

"We only offer the best. If it isn't up to our standards, we don't carry it," Johnson said.

He also cautioned that homeowners shopping for replacement windows and doors need to do their homework before choosing someone to supply those new windows and doors and installing them. When you contract with a company, it should have a long track record and high standing on rating services like Google and Yelp.

"You can't purchase those ratings. They have to be earned. We have been awarded with excellent reviews from Google and have an exceptional rating on Yelp. Those ratings reflect the way our customers feel about us. We also have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau," Johnson said.

It is important to note that all of its installation crews are employed directly by American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors. Crews, who are highly trained and held to exacting standards, arrive in company trucks and the average installer has a minimum of 10 years of experience, Johnson said.

American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors also offer 58 different door styles with 36 standard paint and stain combinations and more than 200 custom glass options. Custom colors are also possible.

"Interestingly, black has become the hot new color for exterior window frames and doors, particularly in the city," he said.

Fiberglass is a common modern choice for outside doors because it is very durable, Johnson said, but his two companies also offer nationally recognized Simpson Doors that are made of solid oak, birch, cherry, poplar and other woods, produced in America. Doors that must be fire-rated (like those between a garage and a home) must be metal and the showrooms also sell those.

Johnson's two companies also offer and install custom patio doors. Custom cuts, designer glass and designer grids are readily available. Steel security storm doors are also part of the inventory for unbeatable protection, as are garden windows for growing plants, windows with blinds between the panes and fashionable doors with decorative glass options.

Sahara and American Thermal have a good following with condominium and townhouse associations because it is willing to send a representative to association meetings at no charge. The company sells a wide variety of fire-rated windows and doors for mid- to high-rise residential buildings and commercial properties.

"At American Thermal and Sahara, we understand what it is to own a home, so we are easily able to relate to our customers," Johnson said. "We strive to make sure our customers receive a positive experience from beginning to end - from their initial phone call, to their interaction with the sales rep and the showroom staff, to their experience with the installation crews. We want nothing but positive experiences!"

The American Thermal Window showroom is located at 5304 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. "Our new Niles location includes our warehouse, an expanded showroom and lots of parking," he said.

For an appointment, call (847) 259-9099 or (773) 774-3131, visit or

American Thermal Window in Chicago and Sahara Window and Doors in Niles offer custom patio doors with designer glass and designer grids available. Courtesy of American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors
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