Whether you’re selecting windows for new construction, replacing your existing windows or looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your current windows, it’s important to try to make sure you’re working with the most energy efficient windows possible.
It’s estimated that heat gain and loss through windows is responsible for 25-30% of residential heating and cooling energy use. The US Department of Energy estimates that this results in a total of $35 billion in extra costs for consumers per year, so switching to energy efficient windows is not only better because it reduces your energy consumption, but reducing your energy consumption also saves you money.
What to look for when selecting energy efficient windows
When replacing your windows or selecting windows for new construction, work with the glass company replacing or installing your windows to determine the best choice for your home and region. When picking out your windows, you want to look for the Energy Star seal. This seal shows that the window has been certified by Energy Star, a government-backed program that recognizes the most energy efficient products on the market. To earn an Energy Star seal, these products must be tested, certified and verified by the National Fenestration Rating Council, which enforces guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Some of the requirements included in these evaluations include the use of energy-efficient frame materials, at least two panes of glass, and low-e glazing. “Low-e glazing” refers to a special treatment that reflects infrared light and UV light, improving the window’s energy efficiency.
There are a number of different features that contribute to a window’s energy efficiency rating, and choosing the best features for your windows often comes down to the climate where you live and what your energy loss concerns are. If you live in a warmer climate and your energy loss occurs mostly in the cooling season, you’ll want to pick windows that are better for reducing heat gain, such as those with special glazing or coatings that reflect the sun’s rays. If you live in a colder climate, your primary concern might be heat loss through your windows, in which case it might be better to invest in double paned windows that are insulated with a gas to reduce heat from your home passing through the windows. If you live in a more temperate climate, it might make sense to choose windows that will protect your energy use in both hot and cold seasons. Again, by working with a local company to install or replace your windows, they should have more than enough context for your location and your home to help you make the most educated choice.
Making your current windows more energy efficient
If you’re not replacing your windows or installing new ones, there are still steps you can take to increase the energy efficiency of your current windows.
First, check for air leaks. Air leaks around your windows (as well as elsewhere in your home) can contribute to energy loss. Check your current caulking or weatherstripping for leaks or cracks, and replace or repair any gaps with new caulk or weatherstripping.
Adding window treatments can also be a boon to the energy efficiency of your windows. Cellular shades are one of the most energy efficient window treatments. These shades are comprised of rows of air pockets that act similarly to the ways a double paned window would. By trapping these air pockets in front of your windows, they can help prevent air in your home from passing through the windows, keeping more cool air in your home in the summer and more warm air in your home in the winter. In addition to this, by acting as shades, they can help reduce the passage of sunlight into your home, which is then converted to heat and heats up your home in the summer.
There are also several do-it-yourself options for tinting or treating your windows with films that will help increase their energy efficiency.
These are just a few ways of making sure your home has the most energy efficient windows possible.