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Your roofing and siding systems take up the largest areas of your home, protecting it from the harshest elements and maintaining its distinctive look. Compared to these larger home components, your windows may seem pretty small and insignificant. They more than pull their own weight, however, when it comes to keeping your living spaces comfortable and efficient.
Windows, depending on their condition, can either maximize your home’s energy savings or increase its consumption. That’s why, when your windows are old and start to fail, you should invest in prompt window replacement. Turn to a reliable window company for this home improvement, making sure that the window products they offer can deliver superior energy performance.
How can you tell if the windows you’re getting really are energy-efficient? Here are five of the most common things to look for when you discuss energy saving windows with your contractor:
PRO-TIP. Determine the specific energy needs of your home and choose the window styles that best meet them.
- What makes a window energy efficient? In olden days, windows were nothing but holes in the wall to bring in a bit of air and light. They’ve since changed – taking on form and function to meet the demands of the modern world. It used to be that windows came with single-pane glass in traditional wood frames, but advances in window manufacturing and technology have widened the options considerably, allowing for newer, more durable window models that offer improved energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you should keep these elements in mind when looking at your options for energy-efficient windows:
- Choose the window style that works best in your home by identifying its energy-saving needs. If you seek to reduce cooling bills through natural ventilation, you can install double-hung and casement windows. The former has two operable sashes that you can open at the same time to allow warm air to exit through the top sash, and cooler, fresher air to come in through the bottom. The latter, on the other hand, can be opened wide or angled to direct breezes into your home.
When you want to make sure that cooling or heating energy remains constant within your living space, a picture window, which is fixed in place, is a good choice. Being that picture windows can’t be opened or closed, they have stronger seals that help prevent significant energy loss. This design, in fact, makes it the most energy-efficient option you can install in your home.
LONGEVITY AND ENERGY PERFORMANCE. Take into account these two factors when choosing your windows’ framing material.
- Framing Material. There’s an extensive selection of window framing materials available in today’s market. Each has their own pros and cons in terms of energy efficiency. Wood, for example, has great insulating properties but is prone to rot. It also expands and contracts when exposed to extreme thermal changes. If you want something easy to maintain while providing exceptional insulation, you should consider vinyl. This material can be filled with insulation, making it a thermally superior option. By keeping an airtight seal, vinyl prevents air and energy leakage that can lead to energy loss.
- Glass. Another critical element of energy saving windows is the glass. Most replacement units come with Low-E (low-emissivity) glass, which reflects infrared light. This keeps your home cooler in summer while ensuring that heat remains inside during colder months. Low-E glass can also protect your home’s interiors from sun damage. Top window manufacturers even use a transparent, metallic oxide coating that maintains a consistent indoor temperature for year-round comfort. All of these excellent features equate to increased energy savings.
LIGHT WITHOUT THE HEAT. Make sure that your window’s glass is Low-E, which lets you enjoy brighter living spaces without the excessive heat.
- What factors can affect a window’s energy-saving properties? The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has established objective energy performance ratings that can help you make more informed decisions about window selection.
- U-Factor. This measures how well your window keeps non-solar heat from escaping your home. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window. This rating covers the overall window performance, including the frames and spacer materials.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). This rates your windows’ capacity to block unwanted solar heat gain. A lower SHGC means better resistance against radiant heat, enabling you to maintain a comfortable environment within the home. A window with low SHGC is especially useful in regions with a predominantly hot and arid climate.
- Air Leakage. This measures how much air can enter your home through your windows. You’ll experience fewer drafts in your living spaces if your replacement unit has a lower rating.
- Visible Transmittance. This rates how effectively your windows light up your home. A higher number means more access to natural light (or better visible transmittance), which can help you cut down on your lighting costs.
COMPARE AND CHOOSE. Check the NFRC label for energy performance stats when picking out an energy-saving window.
- What should I look for in energy-saving windows? Make sure that your new windows have the NFRC and ENERGY STAR label, which signify that those particular window replacement units have met stringent energy performance requirements. Not all windows perform equally well, so compare the different options to get the most from your investment. Some units are more energy-efficient than others, while some have a stronger build or are better-looking.
- Do I get incentives? Depending on your location, you can benefit from incentives and tax credits for installing energy-efficient windows, saving you more money. Check with your local window company or distributor to find out more about your options.
- I’ve already chosen energy-saving windows. Now what? Your windows are only as good as their installer. If you want your new units to deliver the superior energy performance you expect, make sure to hire a trusted home improvement company for the job. Aside from carrying excellent window brands, they should also be certified to ensure that your new units are installed to quality standards. Here are some handy tips on choosing the right contractor for your project:
EXPERT INSTALLATION. Ensure that your new windows can deliver superior energy performance by hiring a reliable installer.
- Get local referrals from your friends and neighbors. They will give you a more honest and accurate description of what their experience with a given company was like, which should help you weed the undesirables out from your list.
- Make sure that your prospective window installer has the necessary business license, bond, and insurance, which should include workers’ compensation and liability coverage.
- Visit the prospective contractor’s website and check out their scores and reviews from customers. Take the time to have a look at previous projects they’ve worked on, as well.
- Ask your prospective contractor about the warranties included with their window products. This should cover material, glass, hardware, and installation, and will have a significant impact on protecting both you and your investment.
- Make sure that your contractor takes necessary measures to protect your home from the mess, dirt, and unnecessary damage that comes with a window installation project. Make sure that the contractor properly handles the disposal of your old windows and takes responsibility for the after-work cleanup involved with the project.
Energy saving windows can provide you with a healthy return on investment over time. Because they help improve comfort levels and increase energy efficiency in the home, you’ll also benefit from a boost in home value. Just make sure to choose smart when picking out windows and selecting an installer.
Along with his wife, L’Anna, Jeff Jones established Jones & Associates in 1987 with the goal of building a home improvement company based on quality and integrity. He makes this possible by partnering with top window brand, Simonton, in addressing the window needs of Texas homeowners. In his leisure time, Jeff spends quality time on outdoor activities with his family and serving in community and religious boards.