Whether you are building your home or replacing your windows you probably don’t know all the different elements that make up an energy efficient window. When choosing new windows it is important to make the best decision for your budget and your home as they are an investment that will last a long time. If you are looking to increase the energy efficiency of your home with new windows here are things you need to look for.
There are different materials to choose from when you’re buying new windows and each type has different pros and cons when it comes to energy efficiency. Vinyl framed windows are a good choice that is budget friendly and energy efficient if constructed and installed correctly. However, the color choices available in vinyl frames can be limited. Wood is another option when it comes to choosing an energy efficient window frame as they offer the best insulation value. However, wood frames are prone to rot and are not a good choice for extremely humid or rainy climates. Another choice for window frames is aluminum. Aluminum frames are not the best when it comes to retaining and reflecting heat, but they are an excellent choice for humid and rainy climates particularly those that receive strong coastal winds and hurricanes. Lastly is the wood-clad frame which offers the best of both worlds with an attractive, low maintenance finish and a temperature resistant casing. However, this frame option is not a good idea for wet climates as these windows can leave your home susceptible to water intrusion. If you do choose this type of frame it is important to ensure it is installed with waterproof rubber membranes and a sill pan.
When it comes to energy efficient windows the most important aspect is the type of glass, seal, and fill. You should ideally look for a window that is double-paned, has low-E glass, and is vacuum sealed then filled with argon gas. Experts say that the denser glassed windows tend to not show a good return versus the amount that they cost and can reduce the visibility from the window. A low-E double paned window will protect your home in the winter by containing heat and in the summer by reflecting the sun’s UV rays and heat. All energy efficient windows are equipped with an energy star label.
Window Casing Design
When it comes to the casing design of the window all windows are not created equally. Double-hung windows are perhaps the most common window in homes but they may not be the best choice for efficiency in extreme climates as air can come in through the sliders. Climates that are prone to high winds typically have homes with casement windows. Casement windows have a crank that swings the window outward to open and they actually seal themselves against high winds however, they do require regular maintenance. Lastly, picture windows typically don’t open and can be more energy efficient provided they have a proper glass choice and gas filling.
After choosing your energy efficient window it is imperative that it is installed properly. Windows that aren’t installed properly will not be energy efficient no matter what type of glass, casing, and frame options they have. You should ask your contractor to avoid using expanding foams to get a good fit because these foams are not waterproof which can lead to leaks. The most important parts of a window install are also the cheapest, proper caulking and flashing are key to ensuring your windows are sealed for years to come.