Buying energy-efficient windows in four easy steps
You’re watching TV near your fireplace, all bundled up with hot cocoa in your hands–but that’s not enough to keep you warm. You still feel a cold draft coming from your windows. And your comfort and utility bills are paying for it! You’ve sealed, caulked and weather-stripped, but they’re still no good. You know what that means... It’s time to stop letting warm air and your hard-earned money leak out the windows! Trust me, we get it… buying new windows can be stressful. This is why we’ve created this easy-to-follow guide to help you choose the perfect windows for your home in 4 simple steps.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR® symbol
Look for the little blue symbol with the star! ENERGY STAR certified windows can save you an average of 45% on your energy bills. Windows that qualify for the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation are up to 89% more efficient than a standard window and are “the best of the best”. ENERGY STAR certified windows have special coatings (known as low emissivity coatings, or “low-e glass”) and insulated frames and sashes. They also have special inert gases between the glass panes rather than just air for better insulation.
- Know your ratings
Consider the U-factor when choosing your windows as it tells you how well insulated a window is. Windows with lower U-factors mean they are not transmitting the heat or cold through them as much as ones with higher values. So for example, in the winter, cold doesn’t pass through as easily.
- Know where your windows are located
Is there typically a lot of sun coming through the window you’d like to replace? Does this result in a hotter room? If so, you may want a window with a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). Is it windy on that particular side of your home? Maybe you want to beef up the U-factor to be sure it is properly insulated. These are great things to consider before installing new windows to help you save energy in the long run.
- Hire a professional
Hire a professional to install your windows. Trained installers ensure your windows will perform their best. And it doesn’t hurt to remind them that there should be plenty of insulating foam around your newly installed windows; so that drafts don’t negate all of the savings and comfort you expect to see. Do your research first! Make sure installer is reputable. If possible, choose a company that is in the Window Wise certification program. This quality assurance program trains installers to install windows and doors correctly. We recommend getting three quotes.
Don’t know if your windows even need replacing? Here are some signs to look for:
- Condensation is building up
- Your windows are drafty, cold to be around or cold to the touch. You’re forced to use plastic wrap and a blow-dryer to seal them as winter approaches (how silly, right?)
- Your energy bills are getting higher
- Your window frames or sashes are cracking or warping
- You can’t see through your windows very well because there is fog or moisture inside the panes
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