As millennials begin entering the housing market, the demand for sustainable, eco-minded homes has risen exponentially. A recent report by the National Association of Realtors found that buyers are increasingly looking to purchase homes that are both energy-efficient and green certified. Energy efficiency ranges beyond the use of photovoltaic energy and home automation systems, extending to picking the right windows to avoid unwanted heat gain and loss. To put it simply, the loss of heat and coolness caused by inefficient windows counts for up to 30% of home heating and cooling costs.
Checking for Window Efficiency
If you already live in a home with windows, checking for potential air leaks is key, as this will indicated whether or not weatherstripping is required. A tried-and-tested method is the incense test. Just light an incense stick by the door and, if you notice that the smoke does not right straight upwards (i.e. it seems to be following the wind, moving to one side or another), then a leak exists. This can be fixed with weatherstripping — a relatively easy task whose success depends greatly on choosing the right material for this purpose. In particular, felt and reinforced foam are two good choices.
If you wish to replace existing windows with energy-efficient ones, start out by choosing windows with Energy Star accreditation. These windows are tested by the Environmental Protection Agency, so you know they possess required quality standards. There are two more factors to watch out for, however. One of these is the windows’ U-Factor (which scores windows from zero to one depending on its insulating properties). Ideally, the more extreme weather changes are in your area, the lower the U-Factor you should opt for. The second pertinent measurement is SHGC, which determined the extent to which your window can decrease heat gain inside your home (values also range from zero to one). The lower the rating, the better for hot climates, since this type of window deflects warm energy from the sun’s rays.
How Much Can You Actually Save?
Efficient windows that keep cool/hot air in our out as determined by the climate you live in can also save you money. The Department of Energy estimates that certified double-planed, clear glass energy-saving windows can save a home between $126 and $465. There are various aspects to look into to maximize savings, of course. These include choosing the best glazings and frame types for your home. Window structure is also key; it is known, for instance, that hinged windows are more airtight than sliding or double-hung varieties. You will also need to ensure that joint work is up to scratch. The glass-to-frame and frame-to-frame joints will need to be completely airtight.
If you are buying a new home, eco-friendliness may well be a primary consideration on your mind. If so, in addition to opting for sustainable materials in floors and furnishings, opting for energy-efficient windows is vital. Go for certified energy-saving windows but give priority to other factors as well, including the U-Factor, SHGC, window material, and joint work.