Types of Energy-Efficient Windows

New windows improve a home’s energy efficiency, making it warmer in winter and cooler in summer. However, the types of windows used can affect their effectiveness.

The best energy-efficient windows have a low U-factor and a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) to reduce heating and cooling costs. They also reduce ultraviolet radiation, which can damage carpets, furniture and artwork.

Wooden Frames

New high-quality windows keep the warm indoor air inside during winter and the cool outdoor air outside during summer, ensuring you maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the year. This reduces the burden on your heating and cooling system, lowering your energy bills.

The frame material you choose plays a big role in your window’s energy efficiency. Aluminum frames, for example, conduct heat extremely rapidly. To make up for this, they often come with thermal breaks to help slow heat transfer.

Wood frame options like Castle Gray and Silver are a modern choice, particularly on white or off-white homes. However, the most insulating frames are composite, including Sierra Pacific’s Fusion frames. They look beautiful and have the same insulating properties of wood. They also resist moisture and decay, making them a wise investment.

Solid-Core Vinyl Frames

Unlike wood and aluminum, vinyl does not conduct heat or moisture and can hold its shape without warping. The hollow cavities in a vinyl frame can be filled with insulation to further increase energy efficiency and provide additional soundproofing for your home.

Vinyl frames are also a good choice for clad windows, which combine an aluminum or fiberglass exterior covering a vinyl core. The space between the exterior and interior glazing is typically filled with argon gas, although it can be replaced with krypton for better thermal performance.

When shopping for new replacement windows, look for a manufacturer that offers a variety of options and features to suit your needs. For example, a quality company like Soft-Lite offers both clad and vinyl frames in different color options and styles to fit your house. They also offer double- and triple-pane glazing, low-E coatings, and warm edge spacers to maximize energy efficiency.

Low-E Glass

Adding low-e glass to your windows and doors can reduce heat transfer, prevent indoor energy loss and improve comfort by keeping the room cooler during summer and warmer in winter. This type of glass also helps lower your energy bills and qualifies you for rebate programs in some states.

The “e” in low-E stands for emissivity, which is the ability of a material to emit radiant energy. Most materials have a high emissivity, but window glass with a low-e coating has a much lower one.

The coating reflects infrared light back inside the window and keeps your home or office warmer in winter. It also blocks UV rays that can cause fabrics to fade and skin to burn. It is recommended to have low-e glass on the interior side of your insulated window or skylight.

Double or Triple-Pane Glass

For those living in extremely cold climates or with long winters where energy savings are a top priority, triple pane windows may be the right option. Triple pane windows allow 97% of the heat in your home to stay inside and only 3% to escape. Triple pane windows also offer soundproofing, reducing street noise and other distractions from your home’s interior.

Triple pane windows are made with three glass panels divided by two spaces filled with an insulating gas like argon or krypton. These spacers increase the R-value of the window, providing significant energy efficiency savings. Triple pane windows can help you save up to 30% in energy costs compared to double-pane windows.

Proper Installation

When you choose ENERGY STAR certified windows, you’ll enjoy lower energy bills and less impact on the environment. You can easily identify these windows by their NFRC ratings and energy-use labeling.

Whether you’re building a new home or replacing old ones, installing high-quality energy-efficient windows is an excellent investment. The insulative properties of these windows help to keep the indoor air warm in winter and cool in summer, which significantly reduces heating and cooling costs.

Proper installation is essential for maximizing the benefits of your new windows. A tight seal prevents air leakage and drafts, so it’s important to use proper fastening techniques and materials. Roofing nails, for example, are preferred over screws because they have wider heads that fit better into anchoring fins and can resist rust and corrosion.