5 tips for optimizing energy efficient windows

Phantom Screens / May 30, 2016

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Energy efficient windows are gaining popularity in home design. According to a survey done by the National Association of Home Builders, 89% of homeowners would like to own Energy Star certified windows. If you want to increase the energy efficiency of your home, windows are a great start.

Here’s how to improve the energy efficiency of your windows:

1. Window orientation

It’s important to consider the direction that your windows face when choosing the right product. Understanding U-factor, the measure of heat loss, is also important. A window with a low U-factor is resistant to heat flow and has better insulation than windows with higher U-factors. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that a north-facing window in a cold climate should have the lowest U-factor.

A south-facing window should have a high standard heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which refers to how much heat from the sun enters the home through a window. This is a good feature in winter, as solar heat gain will reduce the amount of energy your furnace consumes. East and west-facing windows should have low SHGC, which can be controlled by a glaze that is baked in or painted onto a window.

2. Cater to your climate

The U-factor and SHGC values for each cardinal direction are standard, but can vary slightly depending on the climate you live in. Learn more about the climate in your area so that you choose the proper windows and treatments for the north, south, east and west facing windows of your home.

3. Control standard heat gain coefficient

A high SHGC in your south-facing window is a wonderful winter feature as it helps heat your home. However, high SHGC in summer can be hard on your cooling system. You can reduce the amount of solar heat entering from the south by blocking the sun or installing a control method. Some homes are designed with an overhang that keeps sunlight from entering during summer, but allows it during winter. This is a great feature for homes that are under construction, but keep in mind the overhang can’t be added to existing homes.

Fortunately, retractable screens will do the job even better by giving you complete control of the amount of sunlight entering your home year round. To reduce SHGC in summer, choose a mesh that blocks UV rays entering the south-facing windows. You can add a solar sensor to your motorized screens to control your indoor climate even further. This device will automatically lower the screens when sunlight is detected.

4. Install the windows properly

An energy-efficient window is pointless if installation isn’t done correctly. Hire a trained professional to install the windows and be sure the team is following manufacturer instructions. If you notice your home has a draft or the windows produce condensation, then they were not installed correctly. The windows need to be airtight and all operating components should be weatherized. Do some research on installation methods to be sure they are doing the job to the best of their abilities.

5. Choose the style that’s right for you

Every type of window is available with the Energy Star seal of approval. Whether you prefer the look of double hung, casement or hopper, you can have a beautiful window that reduces your monthly utility bills. Just make sure that the windows you choose have been Energy Star certified.