If you’re in the market for new windows, it helps to know all your options. In this post, we’ll walk you through the potential of replacement windows in terms of energy efficiency, and what features to look for to achieve energy performance goals.
Importance of Window Replacement When it Comes to Energy Efficiency
If your existing windows have served your home for a while now, there’s a good chance that they’ve deteriorated to a point where they’re now a major contributor to energy loss and consumption.
Energy-efficient windows are certainly nothing new. They’ve been around since the early 1930s, but availability at the time was limited. Prohibitive costs meant residential applications were practically non-existent, with energy-efficient windows mostly being installed in high-rise commercial buildings.
Today though, energy-efficient windows are widely available and significantly more affordable. In fact, building a new home without installing windows that help conserve energy would be unthinkable. Even older homes can take advantage of the technology. If your home still has energy-guzzling windows installed, it is now easy to have them replaced with energy-efficient ones.
You may be wondering if energy-efficient windows are a worthwhile investment. They are, if you look at returns from a perspective that goes beyond just the dollars-and-cents value of your investment. Aside from the ability to help reduce your utility costs, these windows offer other benefits such as these:
To help conserve energy, new windows are made with two or three glass panels with air or gas fills in the space between the panels. This not only limits the amount of energy being transferred through the window, but the amount of noise as well. So, if you’re in a particularly noisy neighborhood, know that your dream of peace and quiet can be achieved.
Another benefit is less fading on furniture, wooden floors, carpets, artwork, and practically anything else exposed to sunlight on a daily basis. The sun’s rays may provide nice warmth, but they can wreak havoc on any painted or varnished material, causing a significant amount of fading over the years. By reducing the amount of harmful UV rays passing through the window, color fading no longer becomes an issue.
Perhaps the largest benefit of energy-efficient windows is that they allow for a more comfortable indoor environment even without highly sophisticated environmental control systems. By simply reducing the amount of heat passing through the window in summer, and cold during the winter months, indoor living spaces are able to remain comfortable even with your usual air conditioning and heating systems.
It’s in the Glass: How the Glass Affects a Window’s Energy Efficiency
The key to a window’s ability to reduce energy consumption lies in the type and quality of glass installed. There are several different forms of energy-efficient glass. The most common terms that are used to identify the quality of the product are:
- Double pane
- Low e-coating
Double pane windows, like the the term suggests, are windows fitted with two glass panels instead of only one. The purpose of adding an additional layer of glass is to create a space for containing the insulating gas fill, typically argon. This in turn allows the window to have more resistance to heat and cold.
Gas-filled windows allow for further energy efficiency by filling the space between the panels with gas instead of regular air. This enhances the window’s insulation and prevents the transfer of heat and cold as well.
Low e-coating windows are coated with a very thin layer of metallic oxide that actually reflects infrared and ultraviolet light. This means that a significant amount of heat is denied entry through the glass panels. During summer, heat from the sun’s rays is reflected away from the window. During winter, heat inside the home can’t pass through the glass, thus keeping the interior warm.
Frame is as Important as the Glass
Even though the type and quality of glass plays a major role in the ability of the window to help in energy conservation, the frame also plays an equally significant part. Heat can transfer through almost any type of material, especially metal. You’ll notice this by touching the window frame on a hot summer’s day or cold winter’s evening.
You might be thinking that not a huge amount of energy transfer is taking place because the frame only takes up a small amount of space. While this may be true to some extent, you’ll need to consider that energy is being consumed every minute of the day, and this builds up in terms of costs.
To reduce the possibility of heat passing through the frame further, modern windows are now being made with technologically advanced frame materials. A great example would be composite frames such as Fibrex.
Fibrex may be a relatively new type of material, but it is known to provide better insulation than wood, metal, or vinyl. So in terms of energy-efficiency, windows made with Fibrex frames allow for a further reduction in energy bills.
The advantages of Fibrex don’t end there. Fibrex is a highly durable material that doesn’t corrode or disintegrate. It offers improved durability, and Fibrex frames require also less maintenance, thus further reducing ownership costs.
Composite frames are available as ready-to-use , which means that they don’t require additional paint, varnish, or any type of coating. Moreover, they can be manufactured to look like wood, aluminum, or other different types of material, giving you design flexibility.
Perhaps the best advantage of this type of material is that the frames can be made very thin. Since they don’t need to take up so much space, they allow the window to have larger glass panels. This not only gives a better view of the outdoors, but also allows for sleek designs that look great in any home.
In today’s economy, energy conservation is a necessity. Reducing the amount of energy a home consumes not only reduces energy bills, but also protects the environment. With the advanced technology used in modern window manufacture, energy-efficient windows not only allow for better comfort at a significantly lower cost, but for a better planet as well.
If you want to know more about the energy-efficient window options available for your home and needs, make it a point to consult a trusted window replacement contractor in your area.