Creating an energy efficient home is an important consideration for many American homeowners. This is largely due to the increased cost of electricity and other utilities and also due to the growing desire to create more sustainable living practices. Insulation of walls, floors, and ceilings is a very common way to combat these concerns, but reducing heat transference through windows is an issue that is often neglected.
Windows generally represent between 15% and 20% of a home's wall surfaces and are the home's biggest culprits for allowing heat loss and gain. Each year in the US, this heat loss costs around $20 billion in extra energy consumption. If you're installing new windows in your home, then there are several ways that you can make them more energy efficient.
Single panes of regular glass have a very low R-value, generally about 0.3. The R-value refers to a materials insulation ability, and as far as materials go, single panes of regular glass are about low as you can get. To significantly increase your windows' R-value, you can opt for double glazed glass panes.
Very popular in European countries, double glazing utilizes two layers of glass with a small, sealed pocket of air between them. The air pocket is the key to increased window insulation and can increase the R-value of your windows by as much as 10%.
Insulation film is an adhesive material that is attached to the external surface of your home's windows. It's designed to reflect heat and cold and provides another layer of protection to help guard against heat transference via your windows.
Insulation film can be purchased at most hardware stores and installed by yourself or your window contractor. Some glass manufacturers even have the film applied during the manufacturing process and this is commonly known as a Low-E coating.
Timber or vinyl frames
The right choice of frame can also make a vast difference in reducing the heat transference via your home's windows. Standard aluminum frames are the worst option, as metal is an excellent conductor of heat and a poor insulator. Vinyl or timber frames are the best options. Both of these materials are poor conductors of heat and will significantly reduce heat loss and gain.
Ensuring that the window cavity is completely sealed and draft free is also important. Using a spray-in foam insulation to seal the tiny gaps between the windows, frames, and the walls can make your home more airtight and more energy efficient.
If you're still unsure about the different options when choosing your home's new windows, contract your local window supplier and installer. They can guide you through your options and help you to find the most efficient windows for your home.