What Are Energy Efficient Windows?
Windows are usually placed on each exterior room of your home, and each window is letting some amount of heat into or out of your home. Fortunately there are efficient windows available that are capable of managing heat more effectively.
The Benefits of Efficient Windows
Save Money with Efficient Windows
According to Energy Star customers that install Energy Star windows on their home saved an average of 12 percent on their utility costs throughout the year. That means a customer who spends $200 a month or $2400 a year would save $24 a month or roughly $288 a year. That’s a decent amount of money that will make a difference over time. It’s important to consider that your savings could be greater depending on the windows being replaced and the climate you live in. Studies done by Energy Star show that replacing single pane windows with double pane can save between 21% and 31% off of heating and cooling costs.
Enjoy Some Peace and Quiet
Energy efficient windows are also more effective at keeping noise in or out of your home. This is good news for anyone living in a busy neighborhood with barking dogs, lots of traffic, nearby trains or any other source of regular noise. The same qualities that help energy efficient windows keep heat from moving through them also helps keep sound out.
Double and Triple Pane Windows
Double and triple pane windows rely on multiple sheets of glass sandwiched together with spacers. These multi-layer constructions create air pockets between the layers of glass. These air pockets are sealed shut to prevent any air from entering or leaving and then they are filled with different gases to increase their efficiency.
Multi-pane windows are very effective at insulating homes and are a major improvement over single-pane windows. Double pane windows are much more expensive than single pane, but triple pane windows are only slightly more expensive than double. When you’re trying to enhance your home’s insulation, upgrading the windows is one of the most effective ways to do so.
Low e or low emissivity coatings are an effective way to keep heat inside your home in the winter or to keep it out of your home in the summer. These coatings are designed to control the way the heat energy from sunlight moves around. An exterior low-e coating can keep everything but the visible light from entering your home. The ultraviolet and the infrared light is kept mostly out of your home with the proper coating, keeping the sunlight from heating your home while still allowing sunlight into your space.
In northern climates when heat gain is more desirable a low-e coating is often used in the reverse. The full spectrum of light is allowed into the home as much as possible, but the heat energy that’s produced when inside isn’t allowed to radiate back out. This creates a powerful greenhouse effect to help heat your home up.
Pay Attention to the VT Rating
The VT rating or visible transmittance rating of a window shows how much visible light can pass through the windows. For windows on a darker room, like a home theater, it’s ok for the VT rating to be low, but if you want a bright space, you aren’t going to want low VT levels. Low-e coatings are slightly tinted and when you get several of them, or other special glass treatments you can actually block quite a bit of light from your home overall. The added layers of glass, even when they are clear, can block out quite a bit of light as well. This adds up and you will ultimately lose a lot of free visible light, requiring you to rely on electric lights more often during the day.
Look for the ENERGY STAR Logo
When shopping for efficient windows, one of the quickest and easiest ways to find them is to look for the Energy Star logo. Energy Star windows are highly efficient and have to meet a variety of standards and restrictions in order to earn the badge.
In a northern climate an Energy Star window is designed to let in infrared light that causes heat generation and to effectively hold warm air inside the home. These windows are double or triple paned, and they have a very low U-factor.
Energy Star windows for southern climates are made to keep heat out and they have a low U-factor as well making them highly efficient.
Not All Energy Star Windows are the Same
Energy Star windows aren’t all the same and it’s important to pay attention to the differences when shopping. Looking for the logo is a good way to find efficient windows, but you should compare different options to decide which is the best value overall. Some will be more efficient than others. Some will have more durable construction, and some of the windows will be made from more aesthetically pleasing materials.
Look into Incentives
Energy efficient windows cost more money but even though you’ll spend more on these efficient windows, you might not spend as much as you expect. Aside from saving money on your actual energy costs over time, there are incentives and tax credits available in some parts of the United States for energy efficient windows.
The Energy Star Credit
An Energy Star tax credit was available to anyone installing Energy Star windows in their homes for up to $200 each, and a maximum of $500 overall, available up until 2014. Now that credit has expired but other local incentives are still available. For instance, customers in West Oregon, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and a range of other locations all qualify for a mail-in rebate program when purchasing the right type of energy efficient windows. There are also some locations that offer low-interest loans to utility customers installing efficient windows. Check with your local installers and distributors to find out about available incentives and rebates.
Find a Reputable Manufacturer
When shopping for efficient windows it’s important to look for quality manufacturers. To find good quality providers pay attention to customers ratings, look at the products in person to get an idea of build quality and seek the advice of professionals to help you decide on good quality brands.
Some brands are known for offering a quality product and others are known for offering a poor product, but many fall somewhere in the middle. That’s why you should always research a window you are considering to make sure it’s going to perform well and increase the value of your home.
Pair an Efficient Window with an Efficient Frame
Getting an energy efficient window is important if you want to save energy, but it won’t do you much good if the frame of the window isn’t efficient as well. Generally aluminum windows are the least efficient, even when they have a thermal break in them. These windows simply conduct heat too well to be very efficient.
When searching for an efficient frame, there are four options available including, composite, wood, vinyl and fiberglass. Each of the frame types has its advantages and disadvantages, do your research to find out which frame will work best for you.
Rely on a Quality Installer
Windows need to be airtight, and have to be installed carefully with proper insulating around the frame of the window. It’s important to deal with a qualified installer who knows what they’re doing. Research local installers and find a company known for doing a good job.
Look at reviews, talk with the installer on the phone and always get an estimate before moving forward with the job. Also make sure that the installer handles the type of windows that you want on your home. Energy efficient windows are only a good investment when they are installed properly so take the time to find a reputable installation technician. Some manufacturers will include installation and all installers should offer some type of warranty on their work.
Quality energy efficient windows can save you quite a bit of money over time. They’ll certainly lower your monthly expenses, and when you choose the right windows you can get decades of performance out of them and increase the value of your home for resale.