Energy-Efficient Windows: Tips for an Optimal Investment

March 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Energy Efficiency

Everyone wants to save energy in their home and pay less on their utility bills. One of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient is to replace your windows. Single pane windows have been the standard for years, but they are prone to air leaks. It stands to reason that when hot air escapes in cold weather and cool air escapes in hot weather, it takes more energy to keep your home comfortable. But newer, energy efficient windows can be a big expense. How can you choose the right ones for your home that will maximize your investment? Knowledge is power. Read further to find some facts that will help you know what to look for.

How many panes do you need? When shopping for energy efficient windows, you can find models at the highest end with three panes or more, but it might not be necessary to have more than two panes to save on energy costs significantly. Dual pane windows are designed to trap gas or air between the panes. This alone is enough to provide a barrier for the transfer of heat between the outside of your home and the inside.

Some dual-pane window models are constructed with gases between the panes such as krypton or argon, which are odorless, colorless, and non-toxic. Though it cost more for gas-filled windows, they provide better insulation than dual-pane windows with just air between the panes.

An important feature to look for when shopping for energy efficient windows is the use of warm edge spacers. Warm edge spacers keep the panes apart at an optimal distance to prevent leakage and condensation. Any added expense for this addition might be well worth it.

The best models on the market come with features such as Low-E glass. Low-E glass is coated with a special material to reflect infrared light. When infrared light is reflected, radiant heat transfer is reduced. Your home will be much cooler in warm weather and warmer in cold weather. As an added bonus, Low-E glass protects your carpeting and upholstery from excess fading.

Now that you know what to look for in terms of energy efficient window panes, does the type of frame matter? It actually does. The best frames when it comes to minimizing heat transfer are made of vinyl or wood. The worst type of frame is aluminum, which has the least ability to insulate. Wood frames insulate the best, but are also the costliest and hardest to maintain. A good compromise could be vinyl-wrapped frames. Vinyl-wrapped frames require less maintenance, as they don’t need staining or painting, and have about the same ability as wood to insulate.

Investing in higher end quality energy efficient windows is a great way to save on energy costs for the long term. Though it might be tempting to cut corners to save some money, consider that the best quality in energy efficiency will pay off with energy savings in just a few years. You’ll get a return on your investment that also contributes to green, sustainable living and a cleaner environment.