1. What Qualifies an ENERGY STAR Window?
Energy Star ratings were originally designed to help consumers identify products that had the greatest likelihood of saving energy. These ratings describe different efficacies of building materials for different regions; from very warm to very cold climates. Ideally, one would look for products with ratings that meet or exceed ratings in both climates to maintain the lowest possible heating and cooling costs, particularly when contemplating home window upgrades.
2. How is Energy Loss Reduced with Double Pane Windows vs Single Pane Windows?
Double pane windows use two layers of glass embedded with Low-E Coatings and have inert gas-filled air space between the panes to insulate the windows up to 50% more efficiently than single pane windows.
The amount of energy lost through single pane windows is considerable. Initially, storm windows were mounted to the outside of existing single pane windows, creating a dead air space which acted as an insulating layer of air, similar to the insulating layer in a warm coat made out of goose down. The idea is that the dead air space in between down feathers is what provides the insulation, rather than the feathers themselves.
As technology improved, dual pane technology was invented in addition to other items that enhanced the insulation or reduced conductivity of heat and cold through windows. Everything from frame material to invisible coatings (i.e. Low Emissivity Coatings) helped to dramatically reduce the amount of heat and cold transfer through the glass itself.
The advent of double pane window technology significantly decreased the amount of conductivity of heat and cold through windows where efficiency is lost the most: through the glass. The third pane is not just an additional pane of glass, it’s additional technology. With the combination of Low-E Coating and filled with inert gas such as Argon or Krypton, double pane windows dramatically increase energy efficiency.
3. What Percentage of Heating and Cooling Costs can be Saved by Making a Home Window Upgrade?
A very common question when making home window upgrades is, “How much energy will we save compared to our old windows?” Because everyone has different types of homes, windows, and region specific needs in terms of heating and cooling, the answer varies widely, especially considering the additional factor which window you wanted to purchase to replace your old ones. Some companies will claim you’ll save 50%, other companies will claim that you will save only 15%. Of course, this all depends on how often you need to run your furnace or air conditioner. If you turn both of those off, you will save 100%. While energy efficiency is dependent on many factors, investing in energy efficient products will save you money, and that investment into energy efficient products will pay off in the long run.
4. What is the Best Time of Year to do a Home Window Upgrade?
In most parts of the country, windows can be installed virtually year-round, even in extremely cold or extremely hot climates. Assuming you are using a qualified Specialty Contractor, the windows should be custom manufactured specifically to your window size, ensuring that you will only have an opening where your window was for a few minutes. Of course, this can potentially not be the case if one is using a Big Box store, a general contractor, or a handyman. The key is ensuring that you use a reputable specialty contractor that manufactures custom windows specifically made for your home.
5. Why are Gas-Filled Windows and Low-E Coatings Necessary?
Compared to earlier window technology, gas-filled windows and Low-E coatings are essential for keeping the modern home energy efficient in the heat and the cold. Utilizing this technology to insulate your windows prevents loss of energy significantly, saving you money by reducing your heating and cooling costs.
One of the primary reasons that most people do home window upgrades is that they realize their old windows are out of date and do not match today’s standards anymore. None of us would expect to get 30 miles per gallon in a 1949 Ford compared to a brand new fuel efficient car made today. The same goes for the technology and replacement of windows; the efficiency of today’s windows with modern technology is dramatically better than windows designed decades ago.
One such part of modern window technology is Low-E Coatings. Remember, glass is not an insulating material, it is a conductor of heat and cold; Low-E Coatings help prevent conduction of heat and cold.. When applied to one or two panes of a replacement window, they dramatically decrease the amount of heat and cold transfer through the glass itself. When you combine that with a dead air space in double pane glass, then add an inert gas such as Argon between the panes, the result is dramatically decreased energy loss through windows.
A common area that gets overlooked when considering energy efficiency is the frame. While wooden window frames have great insulating capability by virtue of wood’s inherent insulating properties, there can be a tremendous amount of maintenance required for them. When selecting a window that is not made out of wood, make sure that you are considering a window that has foam insulation filling the hollow cavities of the window frame, thus reducing energy loss through the frame as well.
6. How Long Do Home Window Upgrades Take Once Selected?
When selecting a company to help you with your window insulation needs, most consumers are drifting away from using Big Box stores, general contractors, and handymen. The primary reason is most likely that a Specialty Contractor that only deals in windows has the greatest likelihood of having full-time professional installers. These installation crews replace old windows with new ones every day of the week, which results in a faster and higher quality installation because they are truly specialists in their field.
Depending on whether the windows that are manufactured are custom built, the installation time can vary from job to job, but generally are completed in just one to several days, depending on the size and scope of the job. If the windows are not custom manufactured to fit the existing measurements for your home, these times can become much longer as a result of additional framing, drywall, and trim work to seal your windows up to industry standards.
Ready to upgrade your windows? Contact Clearwater Exteriors today!