One of the most effective ways to save energy and add value to your home is by replacing old drafty windows with lovely, lasting, energy-efficient windows. After all, windows provide great views, strengthen curb appeal, boost security, and even improve energy savings — as long as you choose the right replacements. So, how do you know whether a replacement window is truly energy-efficient? What features should you insist upon having in order to get the best results? Can new windows save money on energy bills?
These are questions we often hear at John McCarter Construction, and we’re happy to answer them. Detroit area homeowners desire exterior upgrades that enhance their home’s value and beauty, and we’re here to help when you need us. Our team of windows experts loves providing homeowners with the information and options they need to make the right choice in attractive, long-lasting energy-efficient replacement windows.
Here’s a closer look at what makes windows energy-efficient and how to recognize the window products that will give you the return on investment you deserve.
What Makes a Window Energy-Efficient?
A window is more energy-efficient when it insulates your home against the flow of heat, cold, and wind. There are some common ratings you’ll come across when you’re looking at a window’s efficiency.
This is the rate at which heat flows through the panes. A lower U-Factor indicates the window is more resistant to heat transfer, and is therefore more energy-efficient.
2. Visible Light Transmittance
This is the amount of daylight that passes through the glass. More natural light creates a lowered need for electric lighting.
3. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
This indicates how much the sun’s warming rays penetrate the window. A lower number means the window has a lower heat transfer.
4. Structural-Design Pressure
This is the amount of wind pressure a window can resist. The higher the rating, the greater the wind insulation.
5. ENERGY STAR® Rating
Created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, an ENERGY STAR rating indicates how well a product compares to others in terms of energy efficiency. To earn an ENERGY STAR rating, a window has to perform better in terms of energy savings than 75% or more of its competitors.
The Features that Create Energy-Efficient Windows
Replacement windows come in all shapes, sizes, and features that can affect their performance. When your goal is energy savings, keep these features in mind.
Frame and sash materials
A window’s frame and sash materials play a strong role in insulating qualities, which means the type of window you choose matters.
- Aluminum — less expensive than other materials, but are also the least efficient
- Vinyl — affordable, and provides strong thermal insulation
- Wood — relatively efficient if maintained well, but can be subject to moisture and temperature changes
- Fiberglass — doesn’t expand or contract due to temperature changes, meaning fiberglass windows are very energy-efficient
Double- and triple-paned windows often have gas between the panes. These gas fills — usually argon or krypton gas — work as insulators against heat transfer. Since both argon and krypton are odorless, transparent, and non-toxic, they do the job safely.
Low-emissivity glass, or Low-E, refers to glass that has been specially coated to reduce temperature transference. The lower the emissivity, the more the window sends back the heat where it came from. This keeps your home’s warm air inside during winter, and keeps hot air out in summer. Also, Low-E glass keeps UV rays from fading furniture and other indoor furnishings.
Older windows with a single pane of glass allow heated or cooled air to escape much more quickly than today’s double- and tripled-paned options. As you might guess, the more panes of glass, the more effective the window is at creating energy savings. You’ll see this reflected in their lower U-Factor ratings.
Warm edge spacers
Spacers are located inside the window where the glass is attached and sealed to the window frame. When installed between glass panes, they insulate the windowpane edges, reducing heat transfer and improving energy efficiency.
Windows that allow indoor air to leak outside can cost you hundreds of hard-earned dollars. Weather stripping is an important element that prevents this. The lower the air leakage, the better the energy efficiency.
Updating Existing Windows vs. Installing New Ones
If you’re wondering whether to update or replace your home’s windows to make them more efficient, here’s a quick comparison.
Choose to make a few adjustments to your existing windows if simple additions such as installing storm windows or adding weather stripping will give you the energy efficiency you need.
Choose to install new windows if your existing windows are outdated, single-paned, broken, drafty, unattractive, suffering from condensation, or otherwise underperforming in ways that small fixes don’t address.
Here’s How Much Energy-Efficient Windows Can Save You
The initial cost for window installation may be higher if you opt for top-performing energy-efficient windows. But here’s what you should keep in mind. Replacement windows that are good at insulating your home, preventing heat transfer and blocking drafts will save you money in the long run.
Homeowners who invest in higher efficiency windows generally save around 12% on their electric bill every year. Therefore, a home that usually spends $200 a month to heat their home would save $24 every month. Depending on the climate where you live and the windows you’ve replaced, your savings could be even better. It’s estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy that homeowners save between $125 to $465 annually simply by replacing old windows with more energy-efficient options.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Windows that You’ll Love for Years to Come
When you’re evaluating your home and considering replacement windows, it pays to do your homework and understand all your options so you can make an informed decision. Check out our handy Window Guide that covers everything you need to know before you invest in window installation for your Detroit area home. It includes tips for choosing energy-efficient windows that give you the value, beauty, and low maintenance you desire.
And remember, we’re here anytime you have questions or would like a free consultation and estimate.