Do you shriek every time you get your electricity bill? Maybe now is the time to
consider replacing your old, leaking windows with new, energy-efficient ones.
Windows are a big factor when it comes to saving energy while insulating your
home from the outside temperature. When you’re home, you expect to be
comfortable, no matter how scorching or frigid the temperature is outside. But
poorly insulated windows can put a strain on your heating and air conditioning
system and drive up what you pay to run it.
If you’re like many homeowners, you’re energy-conscious and want to cut your
consumption, both to save money and to be a good steward of the environment.
With so many choices in replacement windows, how do you know which ones will
keep your house comfortable while still being affordable?
We’ll give you some tips and information on choosing the best window designs,
frame materials, glass, and installation so you can enjoy years of perfect comfort
without dreading your utility bill.
Invest in Your Home
Replacing the windows in your home is a worthy investment. Installing quality
insulated windows can put a dent in your energy costs for years to come. Your new
windows will keep the cold or heat outside so you can enjoy your optimum
temperature inside. The less insulating factor of your windows, the harder your HVAC system works and the more electricity you pay for. Estimates that windows are responsible for at least 25% of your energy usage is from maintaining the inside temperature. There are several things to consider when planning new windows for your home. What kind of frame material works best for your home and your budget? What type of glass and coatings are best, and do you want double-paned windows or triple-paned ones?
The material your window frames are made from can make a difference. You can
buy frames made of wood, or aluminum. Each material features pros and
cons when it comes to looks, energy efficiency, and price. You’ll want to consider
your home, climate, and budget before deciding.
A wood frame by its nature blocks more heat and cold transfer than other
materials, like aluminum. However, you may need to maintain this eco-friendly material more
than other types of frames. However, depending on the species of wood used and how well it’s maintained, good quality wood window frames can last many years.
Wood-clad window frames feature a low-maintenance exterior material, usually
vinyl or aluminum, covering wood. However, this window framing product isn’t the
best for wet climates because water can pool between the layers and rot the wood. This type of material requires careful professional installation to reduce the likelihood of standing water that can cause rot.
Because aluminum window materials are strong, they are good for meeting coastal
hurricane building codes. They’re good for rain-heavy and humid climates, but they
allow more temperature transfer than other materials.
Now that you’ve decided which material is best for your window frames, it’s time to
choose the glass, which is crucial to keeping your house comfortable without
costing you an arm and a leg. For years, windows were made of a single pane of
glass. This allowed a lot of temperature transfer. Now, however, you’ll want to start
with at least two panes of glass to save energy. The more panes of glass, the more
insulating factor your window will have.
Windows with multiple panes also block some ultraviolet (UV) rays that can
damage and fade your furniture, drapes, carpet, and other materials in your home.
Because multiple-paned windows are more insulated, you can open up the blinds
and let the light in without worrying about too much heat coming in during the
summer, or too much cold seeping in during the winter.
What are Double-Paned Windows?
Double-paned windows are just that – windows with two panes of glass. The air
trapped between the layers helps stop the transmission of hot or cold air. Most
newly-manufactured windows are now double-paned.
If you live in a climate that features harsh winter weather, you may want to
consider triple-paned windows. These windows have three panes and lock even
more air in to insulate your indoor living space from the extreme cold outside.
There is a tradeoff for all of that insulating power, though. Three panels of glass
reduce the light that comes into your space.
Coatings and Gas Injections
In addition to more than one pane, newly-built windows can contain transparent
coatings for extra insulation. This coated glass provides low-emissive layers that
help prevent even more heat transfer and also block UV rays while letting the light
through. You can also opt for windows with an injection of a heavy gas like argon between the layers of glass, offering even more insulation than air.
Types of Windows
Just as there are different materials, there are also different types of windows, such as double-hung windows, casement windows, and picture windows. Each serves a different use. Double-hung windows are common and what most modern homes have. The bottom of a double-hung window slides up to open it. They’re great for most climates, but in extreme climates, they may allow air to whistle between the sliders. Casement windows are excellent choices in windy climates. This window construction features a crank that swings the window out to open. When closed, it seals itself tighter than double-hung windows so less wind blows through. Picture windows are ones that never open – their purpose is to let light in. Opting for multiple panes and gas filling helps these usually large windows maintain efficiency.
Choosing the Best Design
Now that you’re armed with more information about the ins and outs of window
types, materials, and energy efficiency ratings, it’s time to consider the best type of replacement windows for your climate and existing home construction.
Financial Benefits of Replacing Your Windows
There are definite benefits to replacing your old, poorly rated, or single-pane
windows with new, energy-efficient ones. You’ll save money not only on your
energy bills but on maintenance and replacement costs of your HVAC system.
The exchange of heat or cool from your house to the environment equals up to a
third of your monthly energy usage. This amount fluctuates, and also depends on
whether you live in a colder or warmer climate. But you can look forward to a
lowered monthly energy cost after upgrading your old, inefficient windows to new,
Extend the Life of Your HVAC System
With your existing, inefficient windows, you can be sure your air conditioner or
furnace is working overtime to maintain the inside temperature that makes you
comfortable. This is especially true during the hot summers or cold winters,
depending on where you live. We ask a lot of our heating and air systems, and
they don’t last forever. If you can reduce the load on your system that can extend
the life and extend the time before you need to invest the big bucks to replace it.
Increase the Value of Your Home
Installing good-quality insulated windows can bump up the value of your home.
This is great news if you plan to sell your residence in the future. Potential
homeowners know their energy costs won’t be outrageous and it’s a remodel or
upgrade they don’t have to worry about doing. You may be able to recoup most of
the initial investment of your windows by the increased home sale price.
So, it’s a win-win: you save money while providing a comfortable living space and
you can get back much of that investment if you sell your home.
There are definite environmental benefits of installing replacement windows. Find a
recycling place to take your old windows. The windows could see new life for
someone else, or the materials, including glass and aluminum, can be recycled.
You can cut your carbon footprint when you install new, energy-efficient windows
because you are running your HVAC system less. Older, low-quality, single-pane
windows have the opposite effect, wasting energy as you try to stay comfortable
inside your home.
Update Your Home
In addition to lowering your energy bills and boosting your home value, there’s
something satisfying with updating your home from an aesthetic viewpoint. New
windows can provide a new curb appeal to your home with cleaner lines and a
Window Installation Matters
Just getting the best type of window for your home and climate isn’t enough;
windows must be installed properly to be energy efficient. Work with professionals
who will follow your window manufacturer’s instructions. Directions for installing
windows will vary according to the windows and your own home’s construction,
whether you’re putting them into a wood or masonry home, and also depends on
whether your exterior has stucco, vinyl siding, brick, wood, or other cladding. The
professional you hire should use the proper flashing and sealing techniques,
An Attractive, Lasting Investment for Your Home
Now that you’ve decided to replace your old, inefficient windows with new, energy-
saving windows, you can rest easy knowing you’ll save money on energy costs
while keeping harmful UV rays out, reducing noise pollution, and providing a nice,
snug, draft-free interior. The added visual appeal of new windows and increased
home value are bonuses.
Originally posted on Porch.com