If it is time to replace your windows, you may be wondering which replacement windows are the most energy efficient. Arguably, energy efficiency is one of the most important aspects of any window. Did you know that heat gain and loss through windows is responsible for around 25% to 30% of residential air conditioning use? For this very reason, when choosing windows for either a new home or to replace existing windows, it is vital you choose a highly energy efficient window.
On the other hand, if your windows are still in a relatively good working condition, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of energy loss through your windows without having to completely replace them. For example, you can air seal any cracks, caulk or weather-strip your windows, add window treatments appropriate for either warm or cold climates, add exterior shading and more.
Replacing Old Windows
For many homeowners, simply fixing or band-aiding older windows by using the above methods is not the most effective or practical solution. Oftentimes, replacing your windows is much more efficient and cost-effective in the long run. And, it is always a good idea to thoroughly discuss your options with a professional home improvement contractor before making any decisions. When deciding which replacement window to choose for your home, you should take into consideration the following features:
Type of Frame
Window frames come in a variety of materials, which have advantages and disadvantages to each. Generally speaking, however, vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and some composite frame materials provide greater thermal resistance than metal frame materials. In general, this is because metal is a reasonably good conductor of energy – both from heat and cold. The climate you live in also plays a significant role in choosing the most energy efficient frame for your home.
The type of glazing or glass you select is important when it comes to improving your home’s energy efficiency. In fact, you may even choose to have different glazing types for different windows throughout your home depending on the climate, window orientation and design of your home. A professional replacement windows contractor will be able to advise you further on your home’s unique needs.
Gas Fills and Spacers
Argon and Krypton gas fills between the glazing or layers of glass work to reduce the transfer of heat between the interior and exterior of your window. Spacers are used to ensure the layers of glazing are the correct distance apart, while also preventing any moisture or gas leaks.
The energy efficiency of a window also depends on its operation type. Some windows have lower air leakage rates than others, which improves the overall energy efficiency of your home. Some of the most popular window types include: awning, single and double-hung, casement, fixed and sliding. Your home improvement contractor should be able to provide specific data on each type of window they offer.
Choosing the Most Energy Efficient Replacement Windows
While the type of frame, operation type, glazing type and gas fillers are all important considerations when choosing the most energy efficient windows, homeowners must also consider design, energy use and installation requirements. One of the first things you want to look at when purchasing replacement windows is the ENERGY STAR rating. When you replace old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows, you can lower your household energy bills by 12%. This is not only good for your wallet, but also helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, you should consider the climate you live in. In colder regions, it is a good idea to choose gas-filled windows with low-e coatings to reduce heat loss. Additionally, low U-factor windows offer better thermal resistant in colder climates.
Why Installation is Important for Energy Efficient Windows
When it comes to the energy efficiency of windows, installation is vital. Even the most energy efficient windows on the market will not do their job properly if incorrectly installed. That is why it is important to have your windows installed by a professional installer. If not, your windows will not work as effectively as advertised, and in extreme cases, your manufacturer’s warranty may be voided.