Whether your goal is to reduce your carbon footprint or your electric bill, energy-efficient windows are a smart step.
Also called “energy-saving windows,” these home fixtures keep hot and cold air inside, where it’s supposed to be. Your home doesn’t use as much energy to cool or heat each room with extra insulation, and your utility bills reflect the savings!
Energy-efficient windows are an investment that pays for themselves over time. But how do you know you have the best kind for your home? Keep these five things in mind as you “window shop.”
1. Check the Glass
When most people buy a window, they watch for factors like proper installation and fit. These are important, but before you get that far, you need to look at the glass. The best energy-efficient glass is dual-pane or triple-pane.
Dual-pane is a type of glass that doubles the insulation effects you’ll get, as compared to single-pane. Taking it a step further, triple-pane gives you the maximum energy savings possible.
In between the layers of glass, some manufacturers store inert argon gas. This boosts the insulation effect by reducing the transfer of heat. Add on special effects such as tinting, tempering, and laminating, and you have the most eco-friendly windows possible.
2. Choose the Right Frame for Your Home
Window frames come in four main materials: vinyl, wood, wood-clad, and aluminum. None of these are wrong choices; the right one depends on your home and your goals.
Vinyl is less expensive than other materials, but when it’s made and installed well, it’s an energy-efficient choice for a budget price. However, your color options are limited, and it’s a style that doesn’t fit with every home design.
Wood is the top choice for insulating optimally. Wood frames need maintenance to avoid rotting, so they’re not recommended for homes in humid and rainy areas. If you do want wood in a wet climate, there are some species of wood that will last; they’ll likely be more expensive but well worth the investment.
Aluminum is more popular in wet climates and holds up well in extreme weather. These frames aren’t the top energy-efficient choice, however.
Wood-clad, on the other hand, mixes the cheaper exteriors of vinyl or aluminum with the thermal insulating properties of a wood interior. They’ll still need upkeep in wet climates to avoid a window replacement
3. The Design
You want your windows to complement your home from the outside, but some designs are recommended for energy efficiency.
Consider investing in:
- double-hung windows where the bottom slides up
- casement windows that crank open and closed for a tight seal from the wind
- picture windows with gas filling between layers of glass
These are the three window designs that will reduce your energy costs the most.
4. Placement of the Window
Depending on where the window is, changing the low-emissivity (low-E) of the glass coating can help reduce energy usage. Low-E is the layer of thermal protection placed inside the glass, between the panes.
With the right Low-E choice, your windows can keep the inside cool while reflecting outside heat, or, conversely, keep the inside warm and reflect the outside chill. They can also block UV rays from entering and fading or discoloring the interior of your home.
5. Proper Installation
Anyone can install a window. But if it’s not put in securely, air and water can get in through the barely visible cracks. Water infiltration can cause expensive damage to your home and property. Air leaks increase your utility bill instead of saving you money.
Overall, it’s cheaper to pay someone who knows what they’re doing than to deal with potentially costly consequences if you’re not sure how to do it yourself.
With these five tips in mind, you’ll have the optimal energy-efficient windows in your home. You, too, can save money and reduce your carbon footprint easily!