CLEAR VIEWS AHEAD: INSTALLING ENERGY-SAVINGS WINDOWS IN YOUR HOME TO ENSURE A WARM WINTER WITHOUT WASTE!
Winter is coming, and with it comes the hum of heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces in homes across the nation. Homeowners dread winter and summer, because the cost of heating and cooling a home can be astronomical. Efficient insulation is the best way to protect your home from high energy bills, but sometimes that’s not enough. Old drafty windows are a big outlet for all that expensive air. If you are still experiencing difficulty keeping your house warm, find out if your money is blowing right out your windows, and replace them!
Windows are a fairly simple material, constructed of a metal or plastic frame and clear panes. The panes are generally made of glass, but it’s possible to find them in clear acrylic or plexiglass if breakage is a concern. Windows can be fixed, meaning that they do not open, but the vast majority of windows open in some way. Single-hung windows are probably the most well-known; these are the kind where the bottom part of the window slides up to allow ventilation. Double-hung and sliding sash windows are also available, as well as several kinds of casement windows (these allow the window to open on hinges rather than sliders). Specialty styles of windows including bay, picture, jalousie, and hopper add interest to a building.
In the past, windows were constructed with many small panes of glass held together by mullions, because large panes of glass were unavailable. These small fragile panes were easily broken, and the mullions were often a source of drafts. When large panes were available, they were enthusiastically welcomed. The efficiency of the window was increased even more with the concept of using caulking to seal the window. The concept began with various kinds of gummy substances such as tree sap, but now it is common to use synthetic compounds including silicone or polyurethane. These materials fill the tiny gaps around the window and prevent air from escaping.
Until relatively recently, all windows were made with one layer of glass. Now, the best choice is a double-paned window, meaning that it’s constructed with two layers of glass back to back. This doubles the thermal protection of your window, and has no effect on the look of the window.
Energy Star and Energy Efficiency
Many people know that appliances get Energy Star ratings, but did you know that windows receive these ratings as well? Efficient, energy-saving windows can save you up to $465 a year when you replace your old single-panes. This benefits you immediately by reducing your heating and cooling needs, and continues to pay for itself and reduce your costs throughout the life of the window. Energy star windows are all double-paned, because the two layers of glass provide optimal thermal conditions, keeping heated air in during the winter, and keeping cooled air in during the summer.
In addition to choosing Energy Star rated windows, you may want to consider additions. There are a number of specialized window films on the market to help you achieve results. If you want to draw in more heat from a north-facing window (or prevent it from escaping), try a heat retention film. If you want to reflect some of the harsh summer sun on your southern windows, look for a heat rejection film. These also often aid in preventing UV rays from entering and damaging the people and objects inside. If privacy is a concern, some films are designed to obscure the window without the higher cost of specialty frosted glass.
Removing old windows and installing new ones is a pretty easy process. Unless you’re looking to remodel the room by putting in a new kind of window, you will generally choose a new window that is the same size as the old one, making removal and installation easy as pie. Windows are manufactured in a wide range of standard sizes, so it’s easy to find and choose windows that fit, as well as making it easy to exchange them, such as replacing a sash window with a casement. A skilled contractor can probably replace your windows with a minimum amount of mess and time, quickly putting you on the road to lower utility bills and beautiful views.
Some people are afraid of the cost of home improvements, worrying that the money they spend on their home isn’t worth it. But improvements to the efficiency of your home, such as insulation, efficient windows, and other energy-saving choices, pay for themselves quickly, and continue to save money for decades to come, as well as adding value to the home for future owners.