How to Choose Energy Efficient Windows for Your Home

Rose Morrison

Jan 22, 2021

energy efficient windows

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Installing energy-efficient windows in your home can reduce your carbon footprint and lower your energy bills. Temperature fluctuations, high energy bills and air drafts are all signs you can make your house more efficient. Single pane windows are standard in older homes and offer far less insulation and noise reduction than modern double pane windows. Yet, energy-efficiency represents more than the number of glass panes.

As a homeowner, you’ll need to consider the types of coatings, number of panes and frame materials before making your decision. While this sounds complicated, following a set of steps will keep the process simple and straightforward. Keep reading to discover your options.

1. Consider Updating Existing Windows

Before you commit to ripping out the existing windows, evaluate their features. Cracks are one of the greatest causes of inefficiency. Cold air can leak through gaps in the frame or crevices where glazing is crumbling away. If your windows seem in good condition, you may want to increase their energy-efficiency by repairing the damage. 

A full restoration can be extensive, especially if the window has cracks or rot. If you are looking for a quick fix, consider installing weatherstripping to reduce drafts and air leaks. These options may appeal to homeowners on a tight budget who are looking to increase their property’s energy-efficiency. While you can hire a handyman to complete repair work, you should always contact professionals if you are looking to replace your windows entirely. 

2. Decide What Windows You Will Replace

After examining your house, you may decide that it’s better to replace some — or all — of your windows. If that’s the case, you should make a list of the ones you’d like to upgrade along with their corresponding measurements. This will help you to estimate the overall cost of your renovation accurately.

There are many different types of windows, so consult a guide or professional before ordering. The style you want in your living room bay window will be different from what you would use in your bedroom or bathroom.

3. Look for the Energy Star Rating

Now that you know what style of windows you need, it’s time to choose energy-efficient items. Choosing any window with an energy star rating is an easy way to ensure you are buying an energy-saving product. The criteria for this is based on climate zone ratings certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The NFRC label lists unbiased ratings, which the Energy Star then evaluates.

If the windows you choose are Energy Star certified, you know they’ll have superior energy performance.

4. Examine the NFRC Label

It’s beneficial to learn the various parts of an NFRC label to make your own evaluation.

These are the five sections you can find on an NFRC label:

  • U-Factor
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
  • Visible Transmittance
  • Air Leakage
  • Condensation Resistance

Understanding what this data means will help you to choose products that best fit your home. Depending on the weather in your area and your windows’ placement, each variable’s effects will differ. For instance, people living in colder climates may prefer windows with low e-coatings.

5. Narrow Your Selection

After learning about each section of an NFRC label, you’ll want to narrow your selection of options. You can contact the Efficient Windows Collaborative or view their online resources for specific recommendations for your home. More specifically, your options may vary if you’re replacing windows rather than building a new home.

Their comprehensive guides evaluate the NFRC labels and Energy Star options available while also considering code, durability and installation issues.

6. Hire Trained Professionals for the Install

Replacing your property’s windows is a significant investment, so make sure to hire professionals who are up to the task. If you attempt to install them yourself, you may accidentally void the warranty. Therefore, it’s best to read the fine print and budget to have trained professionals complete the installation.

When deciding who to hire, reach out to the window seller or manufacturer for their recommendations. They may even have someone on their payroll who will do the service as part of the bundled fee.

Plan a Home Energy Audit

You can use these six steps to choose energy-efficient windows for your home. However, it’s worth noting that windows only play a small part in your property’s efficiency. It’s best to plan a home energy audit to determine which areas have the most significant impact. You may discover other upgrades that will decrease your carbon footprint and annual bills.

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