The average American home spends a significant amount towards heating and cooling the house. You would be surprised by the role that windows play in this. Choosing the right windows for your house is no longer just a matter of picking the right style and design. With the ever growing consciousness towards eco-friendliness, energy efficient windows are rapidly gaining popularity. Let’s look at a few pointers to help choose the most energy efficient windows for your home.
Finding the Right Frame
The frame of the window determines a major aspect of heat flow. There are mainly three options when it comes to frames – aluminum, vinyl and wood. While aluminum is ideally suited to combat harsh weather conditions, it does a very poor job to contain heat flow. Vinyl on the other hand is cheap and provides adequate insulation, but can be quite unpleasant aesthetics wise. Wooden frames are elegant and provide the best insulation but they also come with a high cost of upkeep and maintenance. Choosing the right frame is a matter of balancing aesthetics, cost and functionality.
Choosing the Glass
While determining the energy efficiency of the glass, the two most important aspects to consider are the U-value and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHCG). While the U-value determines the window’s resistance to heat loss, the SHCG measures the amount of heat that the glass lets in. Keep in mind that lower the U-value and SHCG, better the energy efficiency of the window. But lower values also mean higher prices. Again, the trick is to balance the cost with the energy efficiency to find the right glass for your windows.
Dealing with Design
The design of the windows is not just a matter of looks, but also plays a role in efficient insulation. Some windows designs are inherently more energy efficient compared to others. The three most common designs are double-hung windows, casement windows and picture windows. Double hung windows are mounted on sliders and are the most widely used type of design. Although quite efficient, they aren’t the best option in extreme climates. Casement windows are hinged and swing outwards to open. They are durable in extreme climates but come with relatively high maintenance costs. Picture windows are large picturesque windows that do not open at all but are very efficient at containing heat and insulation.
The Final Finish
One aspect that generally tends to be overlooked is the efficiency of the contractor in installing the windows. Even the most efficient windows can be rendered useless if the installation process goes awry. Make sure you choose a certified contractor with a good eye for detail. Waterproofing pre-installation is an important process that protects your home from leakages and seepage from rain and sleet. Improper installation can cause a slew of problems that could otherwise be easily contained.
Thermal curtains are the best option when it comes to retaining the heat inside your home. In addition to keeping the room shady and neat, they also harness the heat necessary to keep your home warm in the winters. So, check and see if you can compliment your windows with thermal curtains for better results.
Choosing the ideal energy efficient windows for your home is a matter of finding the right materials for the frame and glass, choosing the right design and last but not least, proper installation. If you keep these pointers in mind, they can go a long way in helping you improve energy efficiency and modulating the ideal temperature at home.