Green initiatives and finding ways to save money and the environment have steadily grown in popularity over the past few years, so by now many people have heard of energy efficient windows. They’re so popular that companies who make and install them have even aired television commercials promoting was that they can be used in your home.
However, there are still those that don’t really understand how adding energy efficient windows to their home can make an impact, especially if they’re already doing things to reduce their carbon footprint within their home. Even for homeowners that are already doing their part to conserve energy, energy efficient windows are a smart decision for your bottom line and for the environment. To really understand why, you need to know how energy efficient windows work.
Even older buildings and single-family homes can benefit from energy efficient windows.
How do Energy Efficient Windows Work?
Traditional windows and energy-efficient windows differ significantly in their construction and functionality. While traditional windows are simple, single or double-hung encasements with plain glass panes, energy-efficient windows are designed with advanced technology to enhance their performance. Let’s delve deeper into the distinctions between the two:
Traditional Windows: Traditional windows typically consist of a wooden or metal frame with one or two panes of clear glass. They open and close using hinges or sliders.
Energy-Efficient Windows: Energy-efficient windows have a more complex construction. They often feature multi-chambered frames made of materials like vinyl, fiberglass, or composite, which provide better insulation and reduce heat transfer.
Traditional Windows: These windows commonly use clear, single-pane glass. While clear glass allows natural light to enter, it offers minimal insulation against temperature extremes.
Energy-Efficient Windows: Energy-efficient windows employ various types of glazing to improve thermal performance. Options include double clear (double-pane), double tinted (with low-emissivity coatings), or even triple-pane glass. These multi-pane configurations are filled with insulating gases like argon or krypton to reduce heat transfer.
Traditional Windows: Traditional windows do not incorporate specialized glazes or coatings for energy efficiency.
Energy-Efficient Windows: These windows offer a range of glazing options to enhance energy efficiency. Low-emittance (Low-E) coatings are applied to the glass to reflect heat back into the room during the winter and block heat gain in the summer. Tinted coatings can reduce glare and UV radiation while still allowing visible light to pass through.
Traditional Windows: Traditional windows lack additional features designed to improve energy efficiency.
Energy-Efficient Windows: Energy-efficient windows may include features such as warm-edge spacers, which reduce heat loss at the edges of the glass panes. Some models also incorporate solar-resistant films or laminates to block unwanted heat gain from the sun while still maintaining visibility.
Traditional Windows: Traditional windows are less energy-efficient, leading to higher heating and cooling costs as they allow heat to escape in the winter and heat to enter in the summer.
Energy-Efficient Windows: Energy-efficient windows significantly reduce energy consumption by improving insulation and reducing the need for heating and cooling. This translates into lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.
Standard windows, even windows that employ two panes of glass are just that – pieces of glass with nothing between them. A two-pane window is more energy efficient than a single pane window, but it can’t really be called an energy efficient window. Manufacturers that make energy efficient windows commonly employ the use of argon between window panes. When placed between two panes of a window, argon helps to improve the thermal performance of a piece of glass.
Different Frame Types
Traditionally, window frames are made of wood, and while wood window frames are built to and normally last for years, they don’t do much for energy efficiency within a home. That’s why many manufacturers of energy efficient windows suggest using metal window frames with a thermal break or non-metal frames with thermal enhancements.
Without getting too technical, metal window frames with a thermal break split the frame into interior and exterior components and use a less conductive material to join them, reducing heat transfer. Non-metal frames are typically made with composite materials or materials like fiberglass designed to look like wood that reduce the amount of dead space in the frame itself, helping to reduce overall heat transfer as a result.
How Helpful Are Energy Efficient Windows?
You’ve probably heard by now that installing energy efficient windows can help to reduce the cost of your monthly energy bill by sealing in heat when it’s cold and cool air when it’s hot outside. While that’s definitely true, and replacing single pane windows with energy efficient windows could easily save you $500 each year, there is another a great benefit.
Energy efficient windows are good for the environment because their installation helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They’ll also make your home more comfortable for you and your family because you won’t be dealing with constant temperature fluctuations like you do with single pane windows.
Energy efficient windows are a great way to reduce overall heating and cooling costs in your home and you’ll get back the money you spend in savings in a couple years’ time. However, installing energy efficient windows can also help you do your part to keep the environment clean and green. If you already take steps to keep the earth green, installing energy efficient windows just makes sense.