With heating and cooling costs continuing to rise, it makes sense to look at one of the leading causes of energy inefficiency in the home: windows. Installing energy-efficient windows can mean increased comfort as well as savings on utility bills in any climate.
The transmission of air and light is generally the most important function of windows. However, this can mean heat loss in the winter, overheating in the summer, and higher energy bills. A typical home may lose up to 30% of its heat or cooling through windows. Properly installed, energy-efficient windows can go a long way toward improving this situation.
There are many factors that affect a window’s energy efficiency. Whether they are single- or double-paned, gas filled, Low-Emittance (Low-E) coated, and even the material of the window frame all contribute to a window’s performance. Online resources such as www.efficientwindows.org provide detailed information on these specifications and how to select windows appropriate for various climates. An experienced window contractor can also be a good source of information and recommendations.
Homeowners should check with their local utility to find out about possible rebates and other incentives for the purchase of new, energy-efficient windows.
Of course, replacing windows is not always a viable option. There are steps homeowners can take to improve their energy savings without replacing windows. Making sure windows are properly caulked, keeping weather stripping in good repair, and using storm windows will help. Window coverings are another good way to reduce heat loss in winter and avoid overheating in summer.
Improving energy efficiency throughout the home means cost savings to the homeowner. Energy-efficient windows are a significant step toward that goal.
David Wall B.Sc
Registered Home Inspector