3 Elements Of Energy Efficient Windows

Replacing your windows may feel like a huge expense, but it actually gives you the opportunity to save money on an ongoing basis. How? By reducing your energy usage. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than $30 billion worth of energy is lost through windows on an annual basis. The more energy efficient your windows are, the less money you'll be spending on energy that goes right out the window. Learn what the three elements of energy efficient windows are, and how you can improve your home's energy efficiency simply by replacing your windows.

The Frame

The first thing that you have to consider is the material used to frame your new windows. You have several options, including metal, wood, fiberglass, and vinyl. All of them offer different benefits and drawbacks, but if you're looking for the most energy efficient frames, vinyl is the standout choice for your home.

Vinyl window frames excel at insulating the window frame space, allowing the least amount of air to escape from the home or enter from the outside. The material used in the frames contributes to its insulating effect, as does the construction of the window frames. Vinyl frames are typically pinch fusion welded in order to be seamless. With no seams, there are less potential weak spots to allow air and water inside. They also have other benefits – they're more affordable than many other frame types, and they're also more durable. Because vinyl frames don't have to be replaced or repaired as often, they save resources and can be considered environmentally friendly as well as energy efficient.

The Glass

The big question that you need to ask when choosing the most energy efficient window glass isn't what kind of glass to choose. Instead, the question should be how much glass you need. At one point, most windows were made of a single pane of glass, and if you live in an older home with its original windows, that may be what you're trying to replace. Even with a good vinyl frame, a single paned window isn't going to be as energy efficient as you would like.

Today, most homeowners opt for double paned windows, meaning that the window is actually made up of two panes of glass, not just one. Transitioning from single paned windows to double paned windows is enough to cause a drastic drop in your energy bills all by itself. However, if you want to go all out, you can also opt for triple paned windows – three panes of glass between you and the rest of the world. These are thicker, more difficult to break, and will do a superior job of insulating your home.

The Glazing

Just choosing two or three panes of glass isn't the end of the story. Glazing refers to the way that those panes are put together in order to make one window. In order to increase energy efficiency, window glass manufacturers typically insert a gas in between each window pane. Argon and krypton gasses are the ones that are the most commonly used. Both are good choices, although krypton is typically a better choice for triple paned windows, while argon is usually found in double paned windows.

Once the panes are fused together with the gas in between, you also have the option of choosing a coating. A low-E coating is an invisible layer of silver oxide. This coating not only insulates almost as well as an additional pane of glass, it also blocks UV rays from the sun that can be damaging to furniture or people within the house. Choosing a low-E coating ensures the highest levels of energy efficiency and offers additional protection for your home's interior at the same time.

When you combine the most energy efficient frames, glass, and glazing choices, you'll be amazed at the difference in your energy bills. A good window installer in your area can provide you with more info about window installations that will pay off for years in the form of decreased energy costs.