As the trend towards eco-friendliness continues, many homeowners find themselves following certain “green” recommendations blindly—such as replacing doors and windows—based on the assumption of reduced energy costs and a lower carbon footprint. But what exactly does it mean to get an Energy Star certified product?
When it comes to identifying energy efficient windows, it makes sense that thicker glass would serve as a better thermal barrier, giving you better control of indoor temperatures. Indeed, double- and triple-paned windows are significantly more energy efficient than single-paned windows. But there are several other technologies that make Energy Star certified windows energy efficient. These include:
- Low-E Glass Coating
Low-emissivity (Low-E) refers to a special coating applied to glass to block up to 90 percent of the sun’s direct radiation. During summer, low-E glass helps to keep the sun’s UV heat out, which reduces your cooling costs. During the cold winter months, low-E glass helps to prevent heat generated indoors from escaping, which reduces your heating costs.
There are a number of alternatives to low-e glass coating, such as tints and reflective coatings applied to the exterior of the glass or between windowpanes to increase their thermal efficiency and reduce your heating and cooling costs.
- Gas Fills
Double and triple-paned windows are usually filled with an inert gas—argon or krypton—to improve their thermal performance by reducing heat transfer between your home and the outside environment. Injecting inert gases between two glass panes does not reduce the transparency of the window, as the gases are clear. The gases are non-toxic and odorless, so they don’t pose any risk to your health. Krypton is mostly used to fill small spaces of less than 0.5-inches, while Argon works best for standard 0.5-inch glazing, because it’s cheaper.
- Low-Conductivity Spacer Systems
Spacers refer to the structural polymer foams placed between two glass panes to improve the energy efficiency of windows. The edges of the panes represent one of the most susceptible points of heat transfer in your windows. Today, manufacturers place low-conductivity spacers around the edges of each glass pane to reduce heat conduction. They also provide a better seal to improve insulation and protect against moisture penetration.
- Non-Metallic Frames
Since metal is a good conductor of heat, windows with metal frames tend to increase your heating and cooling costs. Using non-metallic frames made from wood, vinyl or fiberglass can prevent heat loss around your windows and lower your energy costs.
- Replacing Your Windows and Doors
Replacing old windows with Energy Star certified products can help to provide a comfortable living environment while reducing your energy costs. If you are planning on replacing your existing windows, choosing energy efficient windows can provide great savings in the long-term and increase the value of your home.
Many homes in the northern hemisphere are designed to maximize winter solar heat by increasing south-facing window area. But for this design element to be useful, the solar heat admitted must be stored within the house so it can keep the rooms warm later in the afternoon and at night.
But during the cold winter months, this alone is not enough to keep the interior warm, forcing you to incur high energy costs. Fortunately, you can reduce your energy consumption by installing energy-efficient windows.
So, what are the best energy-efficient windows for a cold climate?
There are many different factors to consider when choosing windows for your home. The most important ones with regard to increasing efficiency are:
- Efficient Window Frames
Energy-efficient windows must not have any air leakages. Manufacturers ensure this by using the appropriate types and designs of window frames, as the conductivity of the material used for the window frame impacts the energy efficiency of windows.
Some of the commonly used materials for window frames include vinyl, fibreglass, wood, and aluminum. Vinyl frames are the most efficient, plus they require low maintenance. Fibreglass frames are also a good option with regard to efficiency, and so are timber frames, except for the high maintenance requirements. Aluminum is highly durable, but it has low efficiency and is not recommended for cold climate.
- Proper Glass Selection
Choosing the right window glasses can help to reduce heat loss and save on the energy needed for heating your space. There are three factors to consider when choosing window glass:
- Visible transmission (VT) – This is a measure of the amount of daylight passing through the glass. It is recommended that you use window glasses with a higher VT value in cold climates. Their high efficiency reduces and even eliminates the need for turning on the lights.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – This is a measure of the amount of heat passing through the window glass. The recommended value for window glass in cold climates is 0.55.
- U-value – The recommended value for window glass in cold climates is 0.33 or less.
Beyond these values, there are other ways to increase the energy efficiency of your windows, including:
- Using multi-pane windows (as opposed to single-pane style) that use a vacuum between the panes to improve insulation and reduce energy loss. The panes can also be filled with an inert gas, such as argon, krypton, or xenon to maximize their efficiency.
- Using low emissivity (low-e) glass, which uses a metallic oxide coating on the inner surface to inhibit heat transfer from warm to cool environments. The low-e coating should be applied on the external side of the innermost glass in cold climates.
Lastly, you may consider mounting storm windows on the inner or outer side of your main window glass to boost thermal efficiency, and nonmetallic warm-edge spacers to prevent condensation from forming on inside panes. As a rule of thumb, only shop for Energy Star qualified windows, as they are guaranteed to reduce your energy bills during the cold months.
Energy efficient windows and doors are becoming a mainstay in many modern homes and businesses because people are recognizing the need to economize on energy and heating costs and the role that having the right windows and doors plays in allowing you to realize these savings. Many older homes and buildings are being updated with this new technology and if you are considering installing new windows and doors, below are some of the reasons why you may want to consider opting for ones that provide better energy efficiency.
Energy and cost savings. The financial reasons for choosing energy efficient windows and doors are quite obvious. They can substantially lower your heating and cooling costs which means you save money while making sure that the climate within your home is optimal all year round.
Lower HVAC costs. Not only do energy efficient windows and doors provide a more efficient way to heat and cool your home on a year-round basis, they help to significantly lower the costs associated with heating and cooling your home during the peaks of extreme weather, both during the summer when maintaining a cool ambient temperature and during the winter when providing extra heat.
Improved comfort. Cold glass generally creates a more uncomfortable ambient temperature because it tends to cool the air next to the window and pushes the drafts towards the floor. Conversely, strong and maintained direct sunlight that filters through the window can cause overheating and discomfort to those directly in the path of the light coming through.
Reduced condensation. High-performance energy efficient windows and doors maintain a warmer interior glass temperature, which helps to reduce frost and any subsequent condensation build-up.
Increased illumination and view. View and daylight are two of the most fundamental window and door criteria. High performance, energy efficient windows and doors are capable of letting in sufficient light while eliminating overheating.
Energy efficient windows and doors are not just designed to help you save on costs, but to provide an alternative to traditional windows and doors that allows for better all around lighting, to reduce the amount of fog and condensation that can build up and distort your view with non high-performance glass and to allow you to maintain a more ideal ambient temperature within your home without having to rely on artificial heating and cooling. If you are thinking about installing new doors and windows in your home, consider the above five benefits to opting for high-performance, energy efficient glass windows and doors, saving you money and adding comfort to your home.
If you’re thinking about changing your windows, there are several reasons why you should seriously consider getting energy efficient windows.
Some of the benefits are more commonly known than others. For instance, it’s widely understood that energy efficient windows can help you save on the cost of your heating and cooling utility bills. That is certainly true, but there are other lesser known benefits that should also factor into your purchasing decisions.
This article looks at five under-appreciated benefits of energy efficient windows. When you’ve looked at all of these benefits, you may just be interested in considering an upgrade on some or perhaps all of your windows.
- Minimal Condensation
You can get energy efficient windows with glass that is safeguarded by a metal layer that helps to lower condensation levels. Without this feature, you may end up with lots of condensation between the glass panes or along the outside of the window, which may then turn to frost. And windows that are frosted over will make your rooms chillier, which is not exactly what you’re gunning for in the winter.
- More Comfortable
Getting energy efficient windows installed will lead to improved comfort since these types of windows are manufactured to prevent drafts. You’ll definitely appreciate this benefit during the fall and winter seasons when the temperature can go from nippy to bone-chilling.
- Reduced HVAC Fees
Energy efficient windows, which will safeguard your home against drafts and leaks, will also help you by lessening peak loads. This will permit you to acquire smaller cooling and heating equipment than would otherwise be required. So you’ll save on the cost of the equipment and on the cost of heating and cooling.
- More Light
With energy efficient windows, you won’t need tinting in the way that you might if you buy regular windows. With zero tinting, your windows will let in more light, which is a good bonus during the sometimes dreary winter-weather months.
- Protect Furniture
You might be surprised to know how the sun’s rays can do a number on your furniture. When you install energy efficient windows, you’ll be able to kiss sun-faded furniture goodbye since energy efficient windows come with a special coating that can lessen harmful UV rays by as much as 75%.
For more information on fixing air leaks in your windows or to discuss any other window and door needs, contact our team of specialists.