So you’ve made the decision to purchase energy-efficient windows. Congratulations! You’re on your way to a noticeable decrease in your utility bills and improved home comfort. But first, you have to make the initial investment and decide which type of energy-efficient windows to buy. Keep in mind the following considerations when shopping for energy-efficient windows.
Energy performance ratings
When shopping for new windows, energy performance ratings are very important, as you must select windows with ratings appropriate for your home’s design and climate. For example, south-facing windows need a higher solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) rating and a higher visible transmittance (VT) rating than north-facing windows. Other important energy performance ratings include U-factor, light-to-solar gain (LSG), and air leakage.
The design or style of window, i.e., how it opens and shuts, also affects a window’s energy efficiency and particularly its air leakage rate. Available styles of energy-efficient windows include casement, awning, fixed, hopper, single- and double-sliding, and single-and double- sliding. Frame material is another important part of energy-efficient window design, primarily affecting the window’s U-factor.
Energy-efficient windows use various technologies to achieve their ratings, and consideration should be given to which technologies you want your new windows to have, depending on your budget and the advice of a professional. These technologies include double panes, heat-absorbing tints, low-emissivity (low-e) coatings and glazings, gas fills, and reflective metal coatings.
In addition to the cost of the window itself, you will have to pay to have your new energy-efficient windows installed. Since improperly installed windows will not be energy efficient, it is essential to have a professional install the windows rather than attempting to install them yourself. Energy-efficient windows need to be installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and air-sealed during installation in order to perform properly.
After installation, your new windows should be ready to use and enjoy! For added privacy and energy efficiency, adorn your new windows with energy-efficient window treatments, such as draperies, shutters, or blinds.
(Photo by Bryn Pinzgauer)