There’s one thing that the dog days of summer and the dead of winter have in common: their ability to drive up monthly utility costs. Your windows are integral fixtures when it comes to regulating heating and cooling costs, and their ability to do so comes down to two, key tasks: reducing heat transference into your home and preventing drafts and air leakages that let conditioned air escape.
Energy-efficient windows that excel at those two things often save homeowners the most on their utility bills because they don’t have to run their heating and cooling units as long to achieve and maintain their ideal interior climate. But what specific design features allow these windows to be so thermally-efficient and cost-effective?
Even at a time when energy-efficient windows are surging in popularity, specifics regarding their construction are not always clear. Many manufacturers offer windows with an Energy Star rating, a highly valued decoration that assures customers their windows are built to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing performance or unit longevity. Per the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing a single-pane window with an Energy Star-rated unit can save homeowners upwards of $465 on yearly utility expenses, or as high as $111 when replacing a double-pane unit; but again, the reason why those energy savings are being accrued is rarely summarized in an easily digestible way.
That’s because there is no hard-and-fast method for manufacturing energy-efficient windows. Sometimes thermal-efficient features, like inert gas fills and thermal spacing systems, are added to a unit during its construction; in other instances, Low-E coatings or reflective films are applied to existing windows to improve their insulation and heat transfer factors.
To explain these features a little more, let’s examine some of the most common construction specs for energy-efficient windows, and how each can save you money on your utility costs:
Some protective window glazes contain a tinting agent that changes glass color. These heat-absorbing tints drastically lower a window’s solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), or
the amount of heat the unit transfers into your home relative to the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the glass.
Heat-absorbing tints can improve the shading quality of any window, but the tint color you select can drastically affect your window’s spectral selectivity. For example, a gray or bronze tint will reduce the penetration of sunlight and heat wholesale, but green and blue tints will selectively admit visible light wavelengths while specifically barring heat signatures.
Low-Emissivity (Low-E) Coatings
Low-E coatings are often microscopically thin layers of metal or a metallic oxide. They can be included within a window’s glaze or applied as a film directly onto a glass pane. These coatings can increase a window’s construction cost by between 10-15%, but can also reduce home energy loss by 30-50%. A Low-E coating is an excellent resource for homeowners looking to improve the thermal efficiency of their existing windows without replacing them outright.
Multi-Pane Constructions, Gas Fills, and Thermal Spacers
Many popular window types, like those with vinyl and fiberglass frames, feature hollow spaces inside the unit. These are meant to distance the various glass panes so extreme heat or cold doesn’t permeate the exterior pane and affect the neighboring, interior-facing ones.
Some manufacturers will fill these hollow spaces with a dense, inert gas, such as argon or krypton, to halt the flow of overly heated or cooled air between window panes. Others rely on plastic thermal spacers to maintain that distance. Both are incredibly vital for regulating energy absorption by the interior pane, as well as reducing interior condensation, which can create long-term structural concerns for the unit.
Get Energy-Efficient Windows Built for the Wisconsin Climate
There are a host of factors that determine how effective your energy-efficient windows can be, ranging from their placement to how well they’re fit and fastened. You’ll also need thermal-efficient windows that adapt to the climate they’re in. With our team, you can improve your home’s curb appeal and better regulate its interior climate with our durable and energy-efficient Tundraland Series™ replacement windows. Sporting exceptional durability and energy-efficient properties, these windows are strong enough to withstand the polarized temperatures of summer and winter.
To learn more, give our Tundraland team a call today or submit our online contact form to request a free, in-home consultation and project estimate.