Having an energy efficient home is not a trend anymore. It’s a necessity. And since windows either increase energy loss or energy efficiency, you need to choose products that will do the latter. It all starts by considering retrofitting windows at home. Once you decide on a new window installation, then you need to check out the variables that affect (make or break) the product’s performance in terms of energy efficiency.
The good news? There are window installers, great professionals in the industry, many products, all sorts of choices.
The bad news? You need to consider the energy performance of the windows in relation to the cost and also durability. And while you do all that, you need to remember that you will still want beautiful windows that will provide the comfort you seek at all levels – view, function, condensation management, etc.
Which factors affect the window performance?
As far as the windows of your home are concerned, the energy efficiency of the indoor environment is affected by factors, such as the glass pane, the frame, the installation.
So, which are the things you should pay attention to when trying to focus on the window’s performance?
• The U-Value. It shows how much indoor heat can be lost and so, it must be low. In other words, if you get a window with low U-value, the heat inside your house won’t escape.
• SHGC – that stands for Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. What it shows? The amount of solar radiation coming via the windows. When it’s low, the heat transmitted is low too.
• Low-E glass windows keep the conditioned temperatures in the house intact (for example, the heat in the winter) and reflect heat in the summer. This is coating that goes on the surface of the panes and actually does the simple thing of keeping the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
• Number of panes. The more the panes the better. For extra performance, get windows with three panes, although double pane windows are also a very good choice. Now, what’s found in the cavity between panes – called spacer, is also a determinant of insulation. Up to recently, the spacers were filled with either air or gas. But air causes fogging and so today, most spacers are filled with gas (usually argon gas), which is nontoxic and odorless.
Which windows are best for your climate?
• Is it often warm? Here you need Low-E to reflect heat and low SHGC. For the window’s frame, prefer vinyl or even wood, if there’s no humidity.
• Does it get cold? You need high SHGC and low U-value. Choose strong fiberglass or composite frames.
• Is it humid? Avoid condensation with gas spacers between the panes and focus on the sealing. You need expert window installers for that. As for the frame, you need high resistance to moisture and so, it’s best to go for composite or vinyl.
• Does it get windy? Focus on the number of panes to insulate better and isolate the noise. Get tempered – even impact-rated, glass and a resistant frame made of vinyl or fiberglass.
• Got cold winters & warm summers? Focus on the U-value and the Low-E coating to have good performance all year around. Since you experience all seasons and so, are some temp fluctuations, prefer vinyl or composite frames.