When it comes to buying new windows, there’s a lot to consider. As an energy-conscious homeowner, selecting the right windows is crucial. But with so many window choices available, one could be forgiven for not knowing what exactly to look for. If you’re in the market for new windows, there are five features to consider when choosing energy-efficient windows.
1. Glass Panes
In order to ensure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible, consider your glazing options. When speaking of windows, there are three glazing types; single-, double-, or triple-glazed. These terms correspond to the number of panes of glass a window unit has.
Simply put, the more panes of glass a window has, the more energy-efficient it is. Triple-glazing solutions are considered an investment but make a considerable difference.
With building standards the world over changing, triple-glazed windows offer benefits such as:
- Higher levels of thermal insulation compared to double-glazing
- Provides a lower U-value
- Reduces energy consumption and carbon footprint
- Has improvements in sound insulation
- Avoids cold spots
The glass you choose will also have an impact on energy efficiency. When trying to maximize energy efficiency, choose low-emissivity (low-E) glass. Low-E glass is clear glass that’s incorporated with a special, microscopically thin insulating coating that improves condensation resistance, comfort while reducing heat loss.
With glazing options outlined, frame materials must also be considered.
Your selected frame can have an impact on insulation value, strength and the longevity of your new windows. As every window consists not only of a glazed unit but also a frame and sash, a poorly incorporated frame could contribute to major heat loss.
Frames are manufactured from various materials, but the best material for enhancing a window’s energy-efficiency is unplasticized polyvinyl chloride or PVC-U. As a synthetic plastic polymer, PVC-U is a stylish, practical and affordable option.
PVC-U windows are also more durable and weather- and fire-resistant, ensuring they don’t warp, discolor or deteriorate as rapidly as other frame materials. And with a wide range of options available, PVC-U window designs can be used on existing outer frames and sashes without compromising desired aesthetics.
When measuring the energy performance of a window unit, there are two main measures employed. Windows are rated by its U-value and Window Energy Rating (WER).
U-values measure thermal transmittance (in other words, how effective of an insulator a window is). When it comes to U-values, the lower the better. The lower the U-value a window has, the better insulated it is.
As outlined by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC), a WER is a rating system similar to home appliances. A WER rating system rates windows from A-G. A+ and A++ ratings were introduced in 2015.
An A++ rating indicates optimal energy efficiency.
While windows must be rated at a C rating or better, achieving an A rating maximizes your window’s energy-efficiency.
4. Design style
The design elements of your window will determine your windows’ energy efficiency. While triple-paned, PVC-U, A++ rated windows can be used on numerous window styles, certain windows are inherently designed to be more energy-efficient than others.
While fixed windows provide optimum energy performance, they are less desirable than casement, vertical sliding, or double-hung windows. In geographical locations where extreme climate is an issue, the potential of air leakage through the hinges, seals or sliders may have an impact on its continued efficiency.
Research is required before purchasing new windows. Learning about your options and how they can impact energy efficiency will help you make the right decision.
Last but not least, installation should not be overlooked.
Poorly insulated windows will diminish the effort of your new, energy-efficient windows, as well as the impact on the comfort and performance it can deliver. Work with a reputable window installer or contractor to ensure you get the efficiency and performance you paid for.
Any gaps present during installation negate the desired effects of your new windows.
During installation, be wary of installers or contractors who require excess sealants or expanding foams to properly fit a new window. These can lead to significant problems later on. Using highly experienced window fabricators and installers will ensure that everything works perfectly with minimal maintenance.
Why choose energy-efficient windows
While interior upgrades like stylish modern kitchens represent opportunities to create a more eco-conscious and sustainable home, windows should not be overlooked.
Replacing existing windows with new, energy-efficiency solutions can improve overall comfort, aesthetics, curb appeal, and energy efficiency while keeping energy costs down and saving money in the long term.
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