Modern homeownership focuses a lot on saving money and saving energy. Young home buyers are interested in reducing their use of important resources, and they want to save money too. You might have already invested in energy-saving appliances and smart-home thermostats. Energy-efficient windows are also a significant contributor to home energy savings.
However, many people don’t understand energy-efficient windows. If you’re hoping to live in an energy-efficient home, learn about some common misconceptions about windows that could stand in your way.
1. My Home Is New, So My Windows Are Efficient
While many builders do use energy-efficient windows when building new homes, many people assume that just because their house was built in the last few years, their windows are efficient. This is not always the case.
New windows can have double panes, which makes them better than single pane windows. They will have a tight seal, which also makes them an improvement over some older windows. However, truly energy-efficient windows use inert gas to reduce conductivity, and they also have the glass treated to reduce heat gain from sunlight.
When buying a newer home, check the ratings for the windows. If your new home is being built, check with the builder before the windows are installed to make sure your windows are more efficient. Efficiency is measured in a few different ratings. These include:
- U-Factor. This number should be low. It measures the rate of heat transfer from non-solar sources. Windows with a low rate of transfer will lose heat less quickly in the winter and gain heat from the outdoors less quickly in the summer.
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). This number should also be low. It measures heat transfer from solar heat radiation. So if you have a window that is in direct sunlight, the exterior of the window will heat in the sun. How much heat is transferred through the window is heat gain.
- Whole Unit Measurements. Some windows are only measured for heat transfer and heat loss at the center of the glass, which means the edges of the window could perform less effectively. Whole unit numbers will give you a better idea of how efficient a window actually is.
Another thing to consider is whether or not a window has a glass coating to help with the reduction of UV light in the home. New windows sound nice on a home listing or as a goal for replacing old windows in your current house, but window ratings matter more than whether or not a window is a few years old.
2. Double-Pane Windows Are Efficient Windows
Double-pane windows will guard against heat loss better than a single-pane window. Many people see two panes of glass in a window and think that their windows are efficient. However, heat loss can occur in more ways than one, and another pane of glass, while somewhat effective, will not give you the energy-saving results you want to see.
Make sure that the weather stripping creates a good seal on the windows that open. Check for signs of condensation between the panes, as this can indicate a failed seal, which means air can leak from the window.
Older windows that have two panes will not compare to newer windows that have gases, better spacing, more effective seals, triple panes, and low-E coatings that help to reduce the heat transfer from sunlight. Homeowners that replace inefficient double pane windows with Energy Star–certified windows can still see nine percent more savings per year in heating and cooling costs.
3. My Windows Are Efficient, So I Don’t Need Blinds or Curtains
Efficient windows are great for indoor climate control, but they are still not perfect. If you want to help improve indoor temperatures even more, you can cover southern-facing windows during the afternoon to help reduce the heat gain from the hottest and most intense hours of sunlight.
4. Complete Window Replacement Is the Only Option to Improve Efficiency
It’s natural to be discouraged about the state of your windows. Some people have older windows with only one pane. Others have windows that are drafty even when the weather is fair. If replacement windows are not in your budget, you are not completely out of luck. You can still talk to a glass repair and window company about other options, including:
- Replacing the single glass panes with glass that has a low-E coating. You’ll have less radiation heat gain with the coating.
- Helping improve your windows with added storm windows. Storm windows add an additional barrier between your window and the outside weather.
- Replacing failed window seals in windows that have removable parts. So old windows were designed to take apart, so individual parts can sometimes be replaced. You might even be able to replace old double panes with new insulated glass.
If you aren’t sure what windows are in your budget or what you could save with new glass or new windows, contact us at Valley Glass Utility.