Everything You Need To Know About Energy Efficient Windows

“What’s so great about energy efficient windows?” a caller asked recently.

“They’re an excellent way to increase the value of your home and reduce cost,” was our first answer.  Another major benefit is that they can add style to a house too. There’s also the added benefit of doing the environment a favor.

You could hear the skepticism in our client’s voice, the doubt that a window can do all we claimed. They were looking to replace their windows and wanted the best options. We asked our team of experts for help, and they came back with plenty for the customer.

Their answers were so helpful that we turned them into a post so we could share them. The result is this “all you need to know about energy efficient windows but were afraid to ask” article. We thought we’d best narrow it down to a list of the top five facts about energy efficient windows:

Top 5 Facts About Window Energy Efficiency

  • Energy ratings are key to your choice
  • Two panes are better than one
  • Argon gas is a great insulator
  • Frames make the energy efficient windows
  • You can save money too

Let’s take a closer look at each point.

Window Energy Ratings are Key

With so many choices, it’s no wonder that there’s confusion around energy efficient windows. Thankfully there are energy ratings which will give you a quick reckoning on the best options.

The ratings to look out for are:

U-Factor: This tells you how much heat will escape through the glass. Look for a figure of less than 0.3. The savings possible here are huge.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient: The SHGC tells you how much heat is absorbed through the glass and emitted into the home. The coefficient goes from 0 to 1. Close to 1 is suitable for colder climates.

Condensation Resistance Coefficient: Expresses how good the window is at keeping condensation under control. The closer you get to 100, the better the glass is at the job.

Air Leakage Coefficient: The more air leaks through the glass, the less energy efficient it will be. Aim for a figure as close to 0 as possible.

Pay particular attention to energy ratings when choosing your new windows.

Two Panes are Better Than One

Single pane glass is not particularly energy efficient. You will always lose a lot to energy transfer through the one pane. On top of choosing the right glass for your local climate, always go with a double or triple layer of panes.

Depending on your local climate, the windows should also have coatings to absorb or reflect the rays of the sun.

Argon Gas is a Really Good Insulator

What goes between the layers of panes is another consideration. For many years the panes were put in place, sealed, and the air between them was the only insulator. What may surprise a lot of people is that argon gas now fills the gap in the best energy efficient windows.

Air allows heat to escape and carries cold into the home. Argon gas is useful in reducing or preventing this transfer. When shopping for new windows, we definitely recommend looking for windows with argon gas between the panes. From an efficiency standpoint, argon-filled windows are miles ahead of those only full of air.

Window Frames Can also Enhance Energy Efficiency

There is not any point in getting all the coefficients right and then choosing the wrong frames. When making your choice the advice of your supplier is essential, but have your facts right too in advance.

Vinyl frames: Are good at limiting the escape of heat and the influx of cold air to the home. They do, however, tend to expand and contract, which can lead to leaks in the fittings.

Fiberglass frames: Have excellent energy efficiency. Fiberglass tends to be a durable material, and there is very little expansion or contraction.

Clad wood frames: Like fiberglass they are durable, have good energy efficiency, and experience little expansion and contraction. You also get a wide range of colors and features, which may help when looking for different styles.

Your window frames make a difference, so choose wisely, when picking windows for the home.

Choosing Energy Efficient Windows Makes Sense

It may not be obvious, but energy efficient windows will also save you money over the years of service. Maintenance will also be low, which can add to the savings factor. Federal and state tax incentives can offer reductions in taxes or increased tax credits when installing energy efficient windows.

It may be worth your while to sit down and do a few calculations on the benefits of energy efficient windows. When you step back and consider the benefits of energy efficient windows, you will soon see the sense in installing them in your home.


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