If you are renovating an older home and the windows need replaced, why not consider going green? Installing energy efficient windows will help you reduce your carbon footprint and lower your heating and cooling costs at the same time. Your carbon foot print is the amount of energy you use for daily living. Aim for a window frame with an Energy Star Label and you'll achieve maximum efficiency.
What is the Energy Star Label?
The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, awards the Energy Star Label to products that significantly lower energy usage while still remaining affordable. Any window may qualify, no matter the manufacturer or the material. The distinctive blue and white label with "Energy Star" in script and text is hard to miss.
Windows that qualify for the Energy Star must also be available in at least half the markets throughout the United States, per the EPA. Sometimes products are reassessed, usually if the Federal Government changes standards, if product availability changes or if there is an ongoing problem with quality. Occasionally the test results are questioned and the item must be retested.
Window Glass Options
If your home is older, chances are you'll have to replace the window glass.
Single Glazed Windows
Single glazed windows only have one pane of glass and are the poorest insulators. Heat from inside your home travels quite easily through these windows.
Double and Triple Glazed Windows
Double glazed windows have two panes of glass with a space in between; while the triple glazed have three panes and two spaces. Those pockets of air increase the insulation factor, which is sometimes expanded further by injecting inert gas such as argon or krypton into those spaces. In addition to keeping your home comfortable, these window options keep outdoor sounds from invading your personal space. Adding special coatings, like Low E, can reduce the amount of ultraviolet rays that enter your home. This cuts down on fading of your carpets and furniture.
Window Frame Options
Chances are your older home has wooden frames. These type of frames insulate fairly well, but over time the constant expanding and contracting makes them less efficient. Wood frames require regular painting and repairs, particularly in harsher climates. Unless you are working on a historically listed property that must be kept original, you might take a look at these other options. Some are more energy friendly than others, but combined with double or triple glazed windows you should see some energy savings.
Aluminum Window Frames
Aluminum window frames are poor insulators if they haven't been treated. But these frames are popular because they are light, strong and require little maintenance. One way to improve insulation is to install a thermal break. This is a plastic strip that is installed between the outside and inside of the frame. The plastic strip reduces heat flow.
Composite Window Frames
These are frames made of particle board and laminated wood, much like laminate floors. Because of the layers and adhesives used, they are more resistant to decay and moisture. They insulate much the same as regular wood and are an esthetically pleasing option.
Fiberglass Window Frames
Fiberglass frames are made of tiny fibers held together by adhesives, just like fiberglass car parts. The process incorporates tiny air pockets into the frame and decreases heat loss. Some manufacturers go further and fill the pockets with insulation material, improving performance.
Vinyl Window Frames
Vinyl window frames are low maintenance. They never need painting and are resistant to moisture and ultraviolet light damage. These frames are made with polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. Vinyl frames have hollow cavities, which are sometimes filled with insulation material, making them one of the most efficient window frame options around.
Call professionals like Gilkey Windows to assist you in choosing and installing the best windows for you.