7 Elements That Make Windows Energy Efficient

Making upgrades to your home can involve many different features. We all want to choose the best materials that will save money long-term. When it comes to replacing windows, finding the most energy-efficient windows is key to saving on energy costs.

Windows provide us with fresh air and natural light. It is one way we get to enjoy the outdoors from inside our home. When it comes to saving energy, windows can be a letdown if you don’t choose carefully.

Years ago, windows were not as efficient in keeping heated air in cold climates nor keeping out the sun’s heat in hot climates. It’s estimated that 30% of heating and cooling costs come from energy loss through windows.

Thanks to window manufacturers like Pella, window technology is much better than any time before. Investing in energy-efficient windows will pay off for years to come. You’ll be able to stay comfortable in the winter and summer without having to pay more in energy costs. It pays to seek out the most energy-efficient windows possible.

Look for These Features in Your Windows

Pella combines technologies to create windows that solve specific energy problems. Some windows are better at preventing heat loss in cold climates. Others are designed to stop unwanted heat gain in hot climates.  Quality framing materials and manufacturing techniques make a huge difference in the quality of windows.

Pella has designed its products to deliver exceptional energy efficiency for savings and home comfort year-round. Making windows more energy-efficient involves using quality materials and improved technologies. To understand how windows can improve their efficiency, focus on the following features.

1. A Quality Frame 

The foundation of the window is the frame and the material it’s made of. There are many framing materials to consider:

  • Fiberglass
  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum
  • Wood
  • Combination
  • Composite

The differences in framing material can have an impact on their ability to retain energy. Vinyl offers more insulation than wood. Frames can also have an impact on curb appeal and maintenance.

The durability of the frame also makes a difference in the lasting efficiency of the window. A durable frame will not sag or warp, meaning you won’t encounter drafts later on. For extra insulation, look for a foam-filled window frame. When you choose Pella windows, all of their materials meet or exceed energy star guidelines.

2. Multiple Panes of Glass

Windows can lose energy through the glass, but they can be engineered to help prevent heat transfer. A single pane of glass won’t offer much insulation for your home. Choosing two or three panes of glass will give you more energy efficiency. 

Multiple panes help block heat transfer through the window. They offer insulation, resistance, and soundproofing. 

3. Low-E Glass Coating

Heat can still seep through the glass of a window. To maximize the efficiency of the glass itself, energy-efficient windows will have a Low-E coating on them to reflect infrared light and ultraviolet light. The Low-E stands for low emissivity.

A Low-E coating is a thin metallic coating that goes on the glass.  It is placed on the inner part of the window’s exterior pane. This helps keep heat from escaping your home in the winter. During the summer, the Low-E coating keeps the outside heat from getting into your home. The ultraviolet protection that comes with a Low-E coating keeps the interior and furniture from fading and sun damage.

4. Gas Fills

There’s still some space that can exist even with multiple panes of glass with a Low-E coating. Between the panes of glass, there is usually a special gas.  It is odorless, colorless, and non-toxic. These gas fills are designed to offer better insulating performance than regular air.

Argon gas is typically used in this spaces. It is heavier than air and is inserted after air is vacuumed out between the panes. By filling that space with a gas that’s denser than air, your home has an added layer of insulation against the elements. Pella windows offer gas fills and Low-Coatings combinations that are designed for your specific climate type.

5. Warm Edge Spacer

To keep an appropriate distance between the panes of glass, a spacer is used. The spacer helps to create the seal around the panes of glass where they touch the frame.  A warm-edge spacer insulates the window and reduces heat transfer through the contacts of the pane and frame.

6. Weatherstripping

Most windows have weatherstripping along the edges of the window. This plastic material creates a tight seal to keep drafts out. The quality and amount of weatherstripping is key to having energy-efficient windows. High-quality weatherstripping includes a fibrous material to create a better seal. The more weatherstripping you can get on a window, the better.

7. Proper Installation 

The most energy-efficient window will be useless if it is installed improperly. Proper installation of a window contributes greatly to its performance This is just as important as the frame material or type of gas fill.

Windows need to be square and plumb in their openings. The area between the window frame and the house framing must be insulated. The windows should open and close easily. Proper installation contributes to the energy efficiency of windows and doors.

Pella certified contractors know how to properly install Pella windows for maximum efficiency.

How to Choose the Best Energy Efficient Windows

energy efficient windows

Where you live will help you choose windows that offer the best energy efficiency for your area. Knowing what to look for to help you save on energy costs is important.

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a non-profit organization that helps consumers who are interested in energy-efficient windows. NFRC independently tests, certifies and labels products to give consumers information about how well they will perform.

If you are thinking about replacing old windows with more energy-efficient windows, look for these features:

Energy Star Certified. According to Energystar.gov, replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide.  In addition to saving money, lowering your household energy consumption can also reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Energy Star is an EPA program that promotes energy-saving products, such as windows. Recommendations for energy-efficient windows are given based on where you live.  Energy Star windows must be more energy-efficient than standard products.

To help you find the right product, you must determine your ENERGY STAR climate zone, and look for the ENERGY STAR label that is certified for that zone.  Pella windows have consistently produced top-rated energy star products.  Make sure your windows are installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

U-Factor.  One rating component for windows is the U-factor or the rate at which a window conducts non-solar heat flow. The lower the U-factor, the better the window’s energy performance. The type of frame can affect a window’s U-factor.  Vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and composite frame types generally offer better thermal resistance than metal.

If you live where heating is the major energy expense, you will want windows with low U-values. It is important to consider the U-value for the entire window unit, not just the frame or glazing.

Glazing and Coatings. You’ll need to consider the different glazing and glass choices and their benefits based on the climate of your home. Pella windows do a good job of combining the right glazing and gas fills to give you the optimal efficiency for your home. 

You can even mix up the types of glazing for windows on different sides of your home depending on its design.  Choices may include gas fills, heat-absorbing tints, insulated glazing, low-emissivity coating, and reflective coating, and other options.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). This is a fraction between 0 and 1 that indicates the window's ability to block unwanted heat gain from direct and reflected sunlight. Windows with low SHGC ratings help reduce air-conditioning costs.

Visible Transmittance (VT). This number gives the percentage of visible light that is shown through the glazing on the window.  Its range is between 0 and 1. The window with the higher number allows more light to come through.

Air Leakage. This measures the overall tightness of the window's construction. It is a number between 0.1 and 0.3. The lower the number, the less air leakage.

You should be able to find energy performance information in the product literature of the windows you are considering. Some products have labels attached to them that list the energy parameters above. Again, the directory of the NFRC is a good place to check as well.

Ready for Windows that will Reduce Energy Bills?

Choosing windows that match your style and the architecture of your home is easy with Pella windows. The vast types of windows, colors, and features will ensure your home is not only energy-efficient but appealing as well.

But remember, this can’t be done without the right contractor to properly install your windows. Banner Construction specializes in window replacement. Our team of contractors are professionally trained and certified in Pella window installation. We will have your home sealed with lots of curb appeal. Saving money on energy costs is normal with Pella windows.

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