While proper home insulation is valued by all, it is often forgotten when we go window-shopping. To do justice to all those who DO pay attention to such things when it’s time for their window installation, let me say this. There’s a list of things that defines the energy efficiency of windows and naturally, not all products are the same.
To do justice to all those who got an insulated replacement window but didn’t get the results they expected, let me add this. When it comes to the indoor energy efficiency of the home, there’s more than meets the eye. The climate, the location of the building, the home’s direction and exposure to the elements, and other similar factors play their role too. In this context, not all windows are the same – in terms of their orientation. In other words, all the more a reason for focusing on the window’s insulation.
Why do we end up regretting our window choices?
Because we fail to take into account the above considerations. Or haven’t chosen a window installation service company that would point the finger to such matters and help us decide. And then, don’t forget that insulated windows are more expensive than standard products. To get maximum satisfaction from your new windows, you need to see beyond insulators. You need to consider all the factors that contribute to the good insulation of the house and all the components of the window in relation with the window’s orientation. And since the better the materials and the higher the insulation the higher the price as well, the window cost also becomes an obstruction – one that leaves us hanging, screaming that our new windows do not provide sufficient (if at all) insulation.
So, let us come face to face with some facts. Shall we?
The key to insulated homes? Insulated windows!
While there are plenty of factors, which affect the insulation indoors, the windows play an enormous role in the energy efficiency of the home. Anything, from their quality to the skills of the window installers, determine if there is (or if there is not) energy loss. Poor quality windows, windows with insufficient insulation, and incorrect window installation all lead to one thing: air leaks. Not good for the winter. Not good for the summer. Not good for your pocket either.
Not all insulated windows are created equal
There’s often a misconception about insulated windows. You see, you don’t just pick one at random, but must consider the special circumstances at your place – window orientation and size, local weather conditions, etc. and choose a product accordingly. And then again, you need to really focus on the features of the window. Who said all insulated windows are the same?
• What’s the glazing like?
When it comes to the window glass, you forget about a single pane. Today, there are double, triple and even quadruple window glazing. Recently some super-insulating products have hit the market, offering much higher energy efficiency – at a higher price too, of course.
• What’s between the panes?
What’s also important is what’s between glazing. Such spaces are often filled with krypton, argon, or xenon. The former is considered the best option but also costs more.
• How much do you know about Low-E?
Most double pane windows have a low emissivity coating, which is totally colorless – hence, enhances indoor brightness while at the same time, it reduces energy loss. That’s a solution if you cannot afford an expensive triple glazing window filled with krypton.
• Did you pay attention to the R- and U-value?
No, R-values and U-values are not buddies. All you need to remember is that the R-value must be high and the U-value must be low for better insulation.
• Does SHGC ring any bells?
That stands for solar heat gain coefficient and is one more way to measure how much sunlight goes through the glass in the form of heat. To control the indoor temps, you need low SHGC in warm areas and high SHGC in cold areas.
• Which window frame did you choose?
While wood is a natural insulator and aluminum doesn’t insulate at all, it’s best to invest in the latter than the former. Why? Because wood warps and rots overtime – requires lots and lots of maintenance to remain in good shape. But even a crack here and there will lead to air leaks. So, if you were to choose among the two, it’s best to get heavy duty aluminum frames to, at least, prevent energy loss. The best choice? Composite and vinyl materials.
• Who’s your window installer?
Yes, you have to pay for the window (and a good insulated one won’t be cheap) and you also have to pay for the window installation service. It’s a burden. No doubt. But having the right window and relying on experienced window installers are both extremely important. If you don’t spend on these things now, you will be spending for a lifetime due to the energy loss – and won’t enjoy the insulation either. Which way will you go?