What Are Energy-Efficient Windows?
Here’s a wonderful piece of news: energy-efficient windows can cut your annual energy costs by 7-15%. Wonderful, right? That’s not all. They make your house more comfortable and raise its market value significantly.
With so many people replacing their old windows with energy-saving varieties, it’s time to consider this option. In this article, we’ll discuss in detail what are energy-efficient windows, the different types currently available, and how to select the right one for your house.
What Exactly Are Energy-Efficient Windows?
Energy-efficient windows are a brilliant solution to minimize heat loss or gain.
In winter, you’d want your house to stay warm, without keeping the heaters at the highest setting, working non-stop. Similarly, in summer, an air conditioner would have to work double time to compensate for all the cold air leaking out of the windows, and the heat coming through the glass.
The way energy-efficient windows work; is by insulating the room, and reflecting unwanted heat. The combined effect of these two features is to maintain a constant temperature indoors. In winter you’ll feel toasty, and in summer you’ll be fresh, without breaking the bank!
What Is Wrong With Traditional Windows?
Traditional windows look perfectly fine on the exterior, but a close examination reveals serious cracks. Literally!
Here are some of the reasons why traditional windows are underperforming.
Single Pane Glass
They are often made from a single pane of glass, which is an open invitation for heat, UV radiation, or cold drafts to barge into the house. These things barely insulate your house, so your heater or air conditioner needs to be a workhorse to compensate for these losses.
Trad Windows Don’t Have a Low-E Coating
Low-emissivity coatings are rather new, so most traditional windows come without that feature. This is how the heat is reflected into its source to keep a room cool in summer and warm in winter.
Poorly Installed or Leaky Frames
Wooden frames are notorious for leaving spaces and crevices all around the frame. This is often a freeway for hot and cold air. A well-heated room would suddenly become chilly and drafty because of that.
What Do the Numbers on Energy-Efficient Windows Mean?
If you want to install new windows in your house, then it’s best to choose an energy-efficient one. As you go about researching the market, you’re bound to come across a bunch of ratings, markings, and figures.
Here’s how to read the labels:
- Emissivity: This parameter focuses on the amount of UV light that’s permitted to pass through the window pane into your room. Low-emissivity is the better option, as this means that minimal amounts of heat and UV radiation infiltrate the window.
- R-Value: This is a complicated calculation that describes insulation. A high R-value means that a material, or structure, would be great at resisting thermal losses. For example, Maple wood has an R-value of 0.75, while Fiberglass is 3.8 per inch in thickness.
- U-Factor: This is another measure of heat loss, and in turn, the strength of insulation. The U-Factor should be as low as possible since a high value indicates a rapid loss of heat.
- Gas-Filled: This is a basic feature in many energy-efficient windows. Double pane windows are often filled with Argon gas to minimize heat loss, or gain, through radiation. This is an inert gas that doesn’t react with its surroundings. It’s also colorless and odorless.
- Energy Star: This is a mark devised by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help consumers select energy-efficient products. Energy Star devices, appliances, and products decrease energy bills significantly and help protect the environment.
What Are the Different Types of Energy-Efficient Windows?
Your house might be in a freezing area or an arid town where the summer heat can be scorching. Naturally, adjusting the climate in both cases wouldn’t be the same.
During the cold months, one would want to take in as much heat as possible. Thus, a reflective, Low-E window, might not be the best option. On the other hand, that’s exactly what you’d need in places where the sun is much too bright.
Here are the four basic types of energy-efficient windows you can choose from.
This is the most common type of energy-saving window. By separating the inner climate from the outside, the air gap between the panes interrupts heat transfer in both directions. For extra insulation, the gap can be filled by an inert gas instead of air.
Triple-pane windows are a step up from double-pane. The energy savings and thermal insulation are significantly higher in this model.
These windows have gas-filled frames to maximize thermal insulation. Argon and Krypton are often used for these window frames, which keeps heat transfer to a minimum.
This is a variation of double-pane windows, where vinyl is used for its exceptional insulation. Usually, frames are made of aluminum which allows some amount of heat transfer via conduction. This is not the case with vinyl windows.
The glass panes of this type get special treatment in the form of a reflective coating. The main reason is to reflect the heat and keep the UV light from passing through the window into the room.
You can have any shape, size, or form of energy-efficient window, and you can still enjoy the full benefits of effective thermal insulation. Whether it’s a casement, single hung, or slider, as long as it’s constructed in compliance with the Energy Star requirements, you’ll get all the perks.
Why Is Getting Energy-Efficient Windows a Good Idea?
Energy-efficient windows are becoming quite popular, and many homeowners are making the shift from traditional to energy-saving varieties. There’s a bunch of reasons for that.
Significant Savings in Energy Bills
When you reduce heat transfer to or from your house, you won’t need to operate heaters or air conditioners too much to achieve the desired climate. This translates to paying less for energy. Your savings could be anything from 7-15% annually, which is hundreds of dollars in an average household.
Creating a Comfortable Ambiance Indoors
Leaky or improperly insulated windows often let cold drafts into the room. The same installations also allow the harsh UV light to overheat furnishings and floors.
In both cases, the home inevitably feels uncomfortable. Many people find themselves sneezing, changing their clothes, or adjusting the settings of their appliances to accommodate the intrusive heat or cold.
Insulated energy-efficient windows avoid all that by keeping the ambient temperature uniform and comfortable.
Protecting Furniture and Wooden Floors
UV light is known for its aggressive effect on wooden furniture, floors, curtains, and carpets. Their colors become pale after a while, and the textiles look worn out.
Low-E windows minimize the passage of UV, and hence, protect your furnishings from the harshness of the sun.
Reducing Noise From the Outside
As a byproduct, energy-efficient windows reduce noise beautifully. The hustle and bustle outside would barely be noticeable with the triple-pane gas-filled windows.
Minimizing Dust, Smoke, and Other Pollutants
Another perk is the significant reduction in pollutants like dust, smoke, pollen, and many other obnoxious substances. City dwellers benefit from this feature a lot, and so do allergic people in rural areas where pollen is abundant.
Raising Your Home’s Market Value
Who doesn’t want a house that feels comfortable and doesn’t cost a gazillion dollars in energy bills? That’s exactly why installing energy-efficient windows raises your home’s market value.
The Bottom Line
Now you know what are energy efficient windows, why they are good thermal insulators, and how they are beneficial to you.
The next step is to assess your individual needs, starting with the location and size of your house. There’s a wide variety of energy-efficient windows that would fit your bill. At Optimal Windows, you can get all the professional assistance you need for that.
Over the short span of a few years, the savings in your energy costs should justify the installation costs, so you can think of this as an investment rather than a liability. Additionally, you’ll get a higher price for your property if you decide to sell it.