Are You Throwing Money Out the Window?
Energy efficiency is important to all homeowners, both in the heat of the summer and the frigid temperatures of winter. However, there are some key solutions every homeowner can implement in order to increase the energy efficiency of their current or new windows that will help to keep their home the perfect temperature year-round.
If you’ve decided to keep your old windows another season, there are some DIY steps you can take to improve energy efficiency.
- Hang heavy drapery. Heavy curtains that fall below the window, preferably down to the floor, will help prevent your air conditioning or heat from escaping through your windows, as well as slow the effects of any air leaking in from outside. Room-darkening curtains have the added benefit of keeping sunlight, and unwanted heat, out of your house.
- Seal leaks. Find air leaks in your window by shining a flashlight around the edges of your window at night. Once you’ve located areas air is coming through, caulk them to help better insulate your home.
- Consider awnings. Window awnings can add character and style to the exterior of your home, and are great ways to block the sun’s rays from your windows, keeping the summer heat out.
Out with the Old
If you’ve decided it’s time to replace your old windows, there are several factors to consider with your contractor, including frame material and glass options.
Windows are typically made of several different types of material, each with their own benefits. In terms of thermal performance, vinyl and wood are typically the best choices.
- Vinyl (PVC). Vinyl windows are known for their ease of maintenance, colors that coordinate with any exterior palette, and their energy efficiency. These windows have a high level of insulation, eliminating loss of air and keeping the muggy summer heat, or frigid winter winds, out.
- Wood. If you’re looking for a more classic, traditional style, you’ve probably considered wood windows. These windows require a bit more maintenance, unless you select a wood-clad option, which will have a rustic, wooden interior, but a more resilient material on the exterior. The good news is that wood is an excellent insulator, making these windows very energy efficient.
- Aluminum. Low maintenance and durability make aluminum windows a top choice for many homeowners. When considering these windows in terms of energy efficiency, it’s best to look for thermally-broken aluminum windows. A thermal break is a low-conducting composite material that separates the aluminum on the exterior of the window frame from the aluminum on the interior and is designed to reduce the transfer of heat or cold between your home and the outside.
The type of glass you choose for your windows can have a dramatic impact on the energy efficiency. The three primary packages are Low-E, HP and Solar Cooling.
- Low-E Glass. Low-E glass has a secondary, very thin metallic dual layer coating that allows the sun’s heat to pass through the glass, while at the same time reflecting radiant heat back toward its source.
- HP (High Performance). HP glass packages combine Low-E glass with argon gas fill and Warm Edge spacer options, providing high-performance insulating glass to improve energy efficiency.
- Solar Cooling Glass. HP glass packages are also available in solar cooling (SC) glass packages for regions with significant indoor cooling and glare reduction requirements.
- Insulated Glass. Insulated Glass Units (IGUs) are windows that consist of two or more panes of glass, which trap an insulating air space between them. This air space can also be filled with gases such as argon or krypton. Both gases provide better thermal performance than air; the difference is in cost and performance. While krypton provides better energy efficiency and can save money in energy bills, argon is more cost-effective at the initial purchase.
Fight Mother Nature and keep your home the perfect temperature this summer and beyond by implementing some of these tips.