Energy efficiency is continuing to gain popularity as more and more people are making the conscious decision to take environmental matters into their own hands. As I visit homeowners and talk to them about their options, I’m excited to report that people are taking proactive measures to reduce their carbon footprint, often asking me for my advice on ways to make their home a place that’s friendlier to our planet. One of the first suggestions I often make, in addition to ensuring they have proper insulation, is replacing old windows with a modern, energy efficient option.
Here in the Bristol area, many of the 1950’s home have old, drafty aluminium windows that let tons of heat and air conditioning escape during the winter and summer months. These old windows are expensive to keep in the house because they let so much air pass through. This means that homeowners (especially seniors who are more sensitive to the temperature,) are constantly cranking up or down the dial to make the house more comfortable. It’s a lot of money and energy wasted for no good reason.
These days, many window and door products are certified by EnergyStar, a joint program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help consumers better understand the benefits of using energy efficient products and appliances. But what makes a window energy efficient in the first place? There are a few components, and different manufacturers use different options based on the environment and climate where the windows are sold.
Firstly, the frame will be made of high-quality materials (such as fibreglass, vinyl, or wood) that are durable and reduce heat transfer. Then there is the glass, which should be at least two panes, separated by a gap to absorb sound and provide a stronger barrier between the inside and outside. In addition to multiple panes, the glass will also often have a Low-E (or low emittance) coating, which makes the window more effective in diminishing heat transfer, and reduces ultraviolet light from entering the home, which can damage carpets, rugs, and fabric furniture. These three important factors are key to ensuring hot and cold air stays where it belongs, depending on the time of year. Plus I love a window with a tilt-in sash, which makes cleaning both the inside and outside of the glass a breeze.
It’s important for us all to help the environment, and creating an energy efficient home is a great way to do your part while reducing your power bill at the same time. If you’re not sure which windows are right for you, talk to a professional or visit energystar.gov to get more information on the options available.