Windows and Energy Efficiency: Top 3 Factors to Consider

Have you inspected your windows lately? Given how windows contribute greatly to your home’s overall look and feel, it’s important to keep them in tip-top shape.

If your windows are old and failing, you might as well face up to the reality that no amount of repair work will ever restore them to their original condition. If you really want to ensure reliable performance and better visual appeal, a window replacement may be your most realistic option. This home improvement project will certainly help spruce up your home, but, even better, it can help improve your home’s energy efficiency too.

Are you plagued by drafts in your home or have you, perhaps, begun to notice a significant increase in your monthly electricity bills? Old and failing windows can cause these issues, compromising your home’s thermal stability while putting an extra load on your heating and cooling systems. If you want to reduce energy consumption, investing in newer, better windows could be the key–but it won’t do to randomly pick out window brands or styles. Here are the top three factors you should keep in mind to ensure you’re choosing better, more energy-efficient replacement windows:

Window Style

Replacement windows can provide energy-saving benefits for you and your home based if you choose the right design. All you need to do is pick what best meets your specific needs. For instance, if you’re spending a lot on air conditioning, why not choose a window style that can help cool your home naturally? The champions for this are:

  • Double-Hung Windows. These units are recognizable by their two operable sashes that slide vertically. By opening both of these sashes at the same time, you can effectively let cooler, fresher air into your home. How does this work? Warm, stale air is expelled from your rooms via the top sash, while the lower sash allows in cooler, fresh air. Because you won’t be relying as much on your air conditioner to stave off the sun’s heat, you can enjoy a more comfortable indoor environment while saving energy.

  • Casement Windows. These windows are hinged at the sides and swing outward. Because casement units can be opened fully or even angled a certain way, they can help direct cooling breezes into your home. Closed, the sash will press firmly against the frame, creating an airtight seal that prevents costly energy from escaping your home. Both casement and double-hung windows offer better natural ventilation, which helps improve indoor air quality, thus safeguarding the health of you and your family.

It’s not just operable windows that can ensure improved energy efficiency for your home. Fixed windows can, too.

  • Picture Windows. When it comes to a durable, airtight seal, nothing compares with picture windows. Since they aren’t operable, there are no gaps between the frames and the adjacent wall where outside air can leak in and energy can leak out. Further, picture windows feature expansive glass areas that allow considerable natural light into your home, helping you reduce costs for electric lighting. This is why picture windows are recognized as one of the most energy-efficient styles available today.

Framing Material

You also need to take your framing material into account. Why? Not only do your window frames affect how long your windows will last, but they also influence energy performance. Some of the most popular window materials include:

  • This classic option features great insulating properties but, unfortunately, is also prone to rot. Extra maintenance will certainly be necessary to ensure wood windows remain in top shape.
  • Vinyl windows are versatile and offer maintenance-free performance. The only downside is that vinyl frames don’t do well under extreme temperatures. They are likely to warp, so they won’t help much with improving energy efficiency.
  • This material excels at durability, but offers poor insulating value because it conducts heat very rapidly.

So, what’s the best window framing material out there? Premier window manufacturers, such as Renewal by Andersen®️, prefer composite framing material. The exclusive top-quality material Fibrex®️ brings together wood’s insulating properties, vinyl’s minimal requirements for maintenance and aluminum’s durability. This results in durable replacement windows that offer exceptional energy performance, while also being easy to care for.

Glass Package

Your choices for window glass are also varied–there is tinted glass, heat-reflecting glass and a lot more to choose from. The most ideal package option for energy-saving windows is low-emissivity (Low-E) glass. Thanks to its specialized coating, Low-E glass bounces heat back to its source, keeping indoor heat in and outdoor heat out (or vice versa, depending on what your home needs). The bottom line is, it helps you ensure a pleasant indoor environment. It also allows plenty of natural light into the home, supporting a reduction in your use of artificial lighting. One prime example of Low-E glass is Renewal by Andersen’s exclusive High-Performance™ Low-E4®️ SmartSun™.

If you’re planning a window replacement this season, make sure your new window units are able to provide the superior energy performance you expect. You best bet is to look for the blue-and-white ENERGY STAR label that signifies that the replacement windows you’re considering meet the stringent energy performance ratings set by the program. If you want to compare just how energy-efficient one window is against another, you can also look for the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) label. This black-and-white label shows how different windows measure up against each other based on several indicators.

Make an effort to choose energy-efficient windows, not only because they will provide your home with indoor comfort and help lower your energy bills, but also because they can offer you a sizeable return on your investment. Just take the factors mentioned above into account and you’ll be sure to make the right decision.

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Author Bio:

Michelle Lamb is Marketing Director of Renewal by Andersen of San Antonio, the window replacement division of Andersen Windows. She aims to help homeowners make more informed decisions about their home improvement projects. As a member of the executive leadership team, she’s responsible for marketing, sales and customer experience leadership for in-home sales organization.

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