Don’t be Duped by Replacement Windows that Over-Promise and Under-Perform
In recent years, few industries have enjoyed as dramatic of a rise as so-called green energy solutions. As Americans have grown increasingly aware of their own personal energy consumption, a sizeable interest has developed in improving the overall energy efficiency of homes across the country. Yet, while most homeowners have learned to recognize ENERGY STAR stickers when they see them, there still is little appreciation for the science that goes into designing and installing high-performance replacement windows in the home.
There is an old adage that most people are familiar with: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same holds true for the insulation of a home, which is why it is so important to invest your resources into home windows that are designed to prevent energy waste. Yet, before you can purchase new windows for your house, it is essential that you understand the science behind energy efficiency and ensure that you work with professionals who know what they’re doing. Here are some general things to keep in mind:
- An ENERGY STAR rating isn’t necessarily indicative of the quality of the windows, This program was developed by the Department of Energy to represents national minimums for energy efficiency. In other words, not all replacement windows are created equally.
- Pay attention to R-value, This figure represents the window’s resistance to heat flow. The higher the figure, the better the window is at reducing heat loss and gain. The R-value is also a system-wide figure that represents the overall efficiency of the window, including the frame.
- Take advantage of passive solar home design1, This is a strategy that utilizes the home’s location, climate, and building materials to minimize energy use. For instance, in New York homes, it pays to have south-facing windows that can collect solar heat during the winter to alleviate some of the burden on the home’s heating unit. By comparison, homes in warmer climates tend to benefit from windows that are designed to reduce solar heat gain, keeping the home cooler throughout the year.
- Explore emerging window technologies, The science behind window design is greatly expanding and many new features are being included in windows to deliver the results needed. Various glazing, window fills, weather stripping, and welding techniques may be offered within the window to reflect radiant heat and slow conduction and convection.