Energy Efficient Windows
Windows are one of the most important features of any modern home. The days when they simply improved a property’s natural curb appeal and aesthetic are long gone. As technology has changed, homeowners have demanded more than ever before, and the windows manufacturing industry has happily obliged with the most energy-efficient windows ever seen.
Today, energy-conscious homeowners seek to invest in windows that will save them money, and all properties lose heat through their windows. In fact, the average home can lose as much as 10%. An older home or one with drafty windows can lose more than 30%.
Energy-efficient windows have essentially been designed to keep the cold air out, the warm air in, and to regulate the temperature inside the property. Carefully selected windows can now drastically reduce your energy consumption.
Overcompensating for air leakage during the winter months leads to a significant increase in energy bills. The financial benefits of purchasing energy-efficient windows are worth the initial investment. Replacing your conventional windows with energy-efficient ones will lower your bills anywhere between 11% – 25%. Naturally, this saving will depend on the type of window you acquired, the brand that produced it, and the installation process. With professional installation, however, your home’s interior should no longer have any cold spots which require constant heating.
What Makes an Energy Efficient Window?
Depending on your unique taste and practical requirements, you may face a daunting task with the spectrum of choices you are presented with once browsing for energy-efficient windows. With the variety of materials on offer, it’s important to know what will work for your home and your specific climate.
So what exactly makes a window more energy efficient?
Certifications: It’s not that hard to spot an energy-efficient window. Just look for the correct certification. The EnergyStar certification will ensure that your product has passed some of the most rigorous testing required before reaching the market. Also, check for certifications by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), or any other certifications recognized by the EPA for residential windows, doors, and skylights.
Installation: It cannot be overstated how important the correct installation is. If this critical part of the process is not performed correctly, even the best windows will fail. Most window related problems are due to poor installation.
Material: Consider the type of material the window is made from. A “heavier” frame will not feel flimsy under inspection and probably make for a more reliable installation material. But let’s take a look at some different frame designs.
Efficient Frame Design
Apart from the energy-efficient qualities they may offer, selecting the wrong energy-efficient window frame for your home or region could turn out to be costly over time. When you are looking at different materials, consider the following:
Aluminum windows are practical in rainy or humid climates. The main advantage of this frame is its strength and durability. If you choose aluminum, be sure the windows also meet stringent coastal building codes in hurricane-prone areas when you want to have these installed.
2. Aluminum Clad
Advanced design makes this a superior energy performer. Aluminum clad offers quality with nearly endless options to enhance your home. It also has easy installation and less disturbance to both the home’s interior and exterior.
A highly advanced fiberglass composite offers thermal protection, minimal expansion or contraction, moisture and chemical resistance, and a paintable exterior that retains its color over time.
Although many homeowners do not enjoy the look of vinyl, it remains a practical choice for others. Vinyl offers multi-chambered design, strong resistance to heat flow, and a variety of styles. It also has excellent energy efficiency when well constructed around the insulated glass. Vinyl can be limited in color choices though.
Wood windows have great insulative value. It does, however, run the risk of rot, especially in humid or rainy climates, and therefore requires more upkeep. This may not matter to some homeowners.
Wood-clad usually carries a virtually no-maintenance aluminum or vinyl exterior with a temperature-transfer-resistant wood interior. This is the leading edge of energy efficiency, durability, and aesthetic appeal. However, these windows should include a waterproof rubber membrane alongside a sill pan. If it doesn’t, there is no way to reduce water infiltration, and this will inevitably lead to rot.
Naturally, the type of materials used in the window’s construction is just one part. The actual type of window may also affect your choice. Let’s consider some different designs.
Efficient Window Design
Some windows are inherently more energy efficient while others have been designed especially for saving energy.
The most popular designs include:
Double-hungs are a very popular choice in the US, but not too practical in extreme weather due to the risk of heat loss through the sliders.
Laminated glass in an insulating unit is produced by bonding 2 pieces of glass together with a tough plastic interlayer. The void is filled with non-toxic gasses like argon, or simply just some air. Depending on your supplier, a double-pane can even out-perform a triple-pane window for noise reduction, and it has amazing energy-efficient window qualities.
Fixed windows are generally not suitable in places where ventilation is required, but they are airtight when correctly installed and optimized for energy-efficiency.
The sash closes by pressing against the frame, making for very low air leakage.
Picture windows cannot open, but they are still a very popular choice for energy efficiency. When correctly installed and made from the correct materials, these windows can offer exceptional energy efficiency.
Low-E Glass Windows
Low-E glass is an advanced glass design with an exterior coating of microscopically thin, virtually invisible metal or metallic oxide layers which are deposited directly onto the surface of the glass.
This eliminates water spots by 99% when activated by sunlight.
Triple-pane windows are rated #1 among industry leaders for energy efficiency. They offer amazing noise reduction and UV protection too.
Energy Efficient Windows For Your Home
If your home has very old and drafty windows, you are probably losing a lot of heat. This will drastically affect your energy bills. It might be more cost-effective to replace your windows totally instead of trying to improve their energy efficiency.
For labeling energy-efficient windows, ENERGY STAR® has established a minimum energy performance rating criteria according to climate, so be sure to look for it. The correct certifications will ensure that you receive the finest designs produced from the latest energy-efficient designs available on the market.
When professionally installed and made from the correct materials, energy-efficient windows will not only save you money by reducing your energy bills, but also serve to aid in noise reduction and UV protection for your home’s interior.