Windows are a concern for those who want a lot of light or seek reason to buy quaint shades and dressing, yet a lot of potential homeowners don’t know that windows can account for up to 25% of heating and cooling bills. So, every homeowner needs to know their options regarding energy-efficient models.
If you need to curb immediate costs to purchase a new home, there are things to do to existing windows to make them more efficient, including adding caulking, weatherstripping, treatments, and coverings. Caulk and stripping reduces air leakage around the windows to keep hot and cold air inside. Treatments and coverings reduce heat loss and heat gain depending on the season and immediate preference. Understand that most treatments do not influence leakage.
Many homeowners rather pass on treatments and put funds toward new energy-efficient windows and install an HVAC system. Though it’s an upfront cost, quality windows more than pay for themselves regarding the money saved on heating and cooling. Energy-efficient models improve heating, cooling, and lighting in your home. When deciding upon new windows and systems, look for the ENERGY STAR label in addition to discussing appropriate style with your selected vendor.
Ask about each selection’s energy performance rating. Energy efficiency relies on a number of factors such as U-factors, glazing, and leakage rates. The function of the window depends on where it’s placed. For example, an awning window is hinged at the top and open outward; these types have lower leakage rates than sliding windows. Alternatively, hopper windows are hinged at the bottom and open inward; like awning windows, hoppers have low leakage rates.
Finding and choosing energy efficient models is only part of the solution. To save the most on heating and cooling, proper installation is essential and depends on the type of window purchased in addition to the construction of your home. Moreover, you must consider the exterior of the home (wood siding, stucco, brick) and the type of barrier (if any) that is in place. Windows are installed according the the manufacturers’ recommendations and then sealed for proper function. Efficient installers will caulk the frame and weatherstrip applicable components.
U-Factor and R-Value
A window’s u-factor and r-value are two things to keep in mind when shopping. The u-factor expresses the insulative value and the r-value rates the energy efficiency in regards to where the window is placed within the home (beneath the roof, in the attic, behind the walls, etc.)
Blinds are used to reduce summer heat as compared to helping with winter heat loss. Interior blinds, when closed on a sunny window, reduce heat gain up to 45%. Exterior blinds can be made of wood, steel, aluminum, or vinyl. When blinds are completely lowered, slats meet and provide shade.
Panels can reduce winter heat loss by 50% and are less expensive than double-glazed windows. Single and combination exterior panels are made of glass, plastic, or plastic sheeting and put in during the fall and taken down in spring. Exterior storm panels are custom-made. Interior panels are made of flexible or rigid plastic. Interior panels should go in before the heating season and be removed before the cooling season.
Carrol I. House is an environmental specialist. She loves to write about her experiences working in the field online. Her articles can be found mainly on home improvement and environmental sites.