Have you been considering what you want in energy efficient windows? Wholesale Home Improvements in Denver has created a handy guide to help you make the best selection. These days, there are energy efficient options for virtually every style of window out there, so you can pick out the look you want and still take advantage of potentially lower energy bills.
First, let’s take a look at what options are out there for frame materials on replacement windows and what you want in energy efficient windows. Some materials are naturally energy efficient on their own, and others need a little bit of help. The good news is, there are options to up the energy efficiency of many materials so you can choose just the look you want!
- Aluminum or Metal Frames
You may remember from high school science classes that metal conducts heat fairly readily. That means that aluminum frames are not very energy efficient on their own. If you still want to take advantage of this durable, light and extremely low-maintenance material, you can add a plastic strip called a thermal break between the inside and outside of the frame.
- Composite Frames
Composite window frames are made up of composite wood particles. For example, particle board or laminated strand lumber. The benefit to these frames is that they have roughly the same insulating capacity as traditional wood frames but are not nearly as prone to rotting and moisture damage.
- Fiberglass Frames
Fiberglass is a great, lightweight material that also doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It is filled with air cavities which, when filled with insulation, makes fiberglass an energy efficient option for your replacement windows as compared to wood or uninsulated vinyl.
- Vinyl Frames
Vinyl frames are popular as a low-maintenance and inexpensive option. Just like fiberglass, air cavities within the material can be filled with insulation, making insulated vinyl what you want in energy efficient windows versus uninsulated vinyl or wood. A quick note – make sure you look for quality vinyl as there are many cheap versions out there that will undermine the energy savings you’re trying to attain.
- Wood Frames
Traditional wood frames look fantastic and insulate moderately well. However, the downside to wood is that it requires a fair bit of upkeep as it is prone to cracking as it expands and contracts with weather conditions and eventually rotting and or succumbing to insect damage. If this is the style you want, be prepared for some upkeep.
Glass or Window Glazing
Once you’ve chosen the frame that you want, the next thing to look at is window glazing or glass. Since the glass is the most substantial part of your replacement window, you obviously want to choose the right glass, or window glazing, to both fit your budget and attain your energy efficiency goals. Factors such as climate, building design, and even window orientation affect this decision, and you may find it prudent to adjust in different parts of your home.
- Insulated Glass
When it comes to what you want in energy efficient windows, this one is easy. With an insulated glass window, two or more panes of glass are put together but spaced apart just a little bit. Then it is hermetically sealed leaving a buffer zone between the panes of glass that provides an insulating effect.
- Gas Fills
To make double paned windows even more efficient, manufacturers often put an inert gas, such as Argon or Krypton, between the two panes of glass. These gases have a higher resistance to heat transfer than does air and therefore improve the overall energy efficiency of any window, double-hung windows to casements.
- Heat-Absorbing Tints
If Heat-absorbing tints can be added to the window glazing as a means to not only inhibit heat transfer but also to block a significant amount of UV light. You do have to be careful though as if you cut down on the natural light by 70% or more, any indoor plants you have will either slow down the rate of growth or even die.
Gray or bronze tinted windows are the most commonly used colors as they work well to absorb both heat and light. If, however, you want to allow light through and only block heat, then you should go for a blue or green tinted glass.
- Low-Emissivity Coatings
Another big factor, low-emissivity (or low-E coatings as they are known in the industry) are what you want in energy efficient windows. These coatings can be applied to the glass to improve energy efficiency further. The coatings are metal or metallic oxide that is so thin it is basically invisible. Most of the time this happens during the manufacturing process, but to improve energy efficiency on existing windows, you can buy a film to apply to already installed windows
- Reflective Coatings
Reflective coatings reflect back the rays of the sun and block more light than heat. These coatings are often used in hot climates where the sun can be extreme. However, they don’t always positively help your energy bill because what is gained in lower cooling costs is lost in need for more electric lighting. It just depends on the climate, positioning of the home and what you want in energy efficient windows.
- Spectrally Selective Coatings
These coatings are a specific type of low-E coating that is capable of insulating against 40-70% of the heat that goes through your window but does not affect the light transfer. The coating focuses on blocking only the infrared portion of the solar spectrum (in other words, heat) and leaves the rest of the spectrum, which is visible light, alone.
After reading all this, do you have a better idea of what you want in energy efficient windows? It’s okay if you’re a little confused. The experts here at Wholesale Home Improvements in Denver are happy to help you figure out exactly what you want and will help you choose the perfect windows for your home. Our almost 25 years of experience is exactly what you need!