The most popular types of energy efficient windows will create a more comfortable atmosphere inside your home, keeping in your heating and air conditioning while also blocking outside heat and cold. Today’s replacement window styles are meant to last for years, if not even decades, before they need repair or replacement.
The 3 most popular types of energy efficient windows include:
Triple-glazed vinyl windows
Double-glazed gas filled windows
Triple-glazed wood trim windows
While the most popular types of energy efficient windows might be a bit more expensive than low-quality, single pane windows, investing in upgraded windows means lower utility costs over time. You’ll also enjoy a more comfortable environment inside your home and improved curb appeal outside as well!
Before you start shopping for new replacement windows, consider a few vital details about what makes windows energy efficient and why upgraded windows are a good investment for your home. Be sure to discuss your options with a window installation contractor, for personalized recommendations that would work well for your home in particular.
What Types of Windows Are the Most Energy Efficient?
To better understand the best choice of energy efficient windows for your home, it’s helpful to know more about the composition of windows overall. You can then decide the best combination of glazing, frames, and window opening or operation for needed window replacements.
Glazing is the glass or panes of a window; double-glazed windows have two panes of glass back-to-back. Triple-glazed windows have three panes of glass.
Energy efficient windows are typically coated with a microscopic film. These coatings offer added protection from the sun’s UV rays and help to insulate window glass against hot sunlight and outside heat and cold.
Gas fills or spacers are installed between window glazing. For example, the gap between double-glazed windows might be filled with argon gas rather than air.
A window’s operating type refers to how it opens and closes and this operations affects a window’s overall insulating properties. A homeowner might choose various operating types for different windows in the home depending on desired air circulation and the window’s appearance.
Homeowners often fail to realize how a window frame adds to its overall insulation! Some window frame materials conduct heat and cold whereas others are dense and durable and keep a home better insulated overall.
Consider some added details about each component of a window so you can decide the right type for each room of your home. Note that you might opt for various operation types, frame materials, and coatings depending on the direction a window faces, how often you occupy the room, and other such factors.
Are Energy Efficient Windows Worth It?
Upgrading to energy-efficient windows translates into added savings on your utility bills and a more comfortable home environment, making them well worth the window replacement cost. Perhaps the most important factor in various types of energy efficient windows is the glazing or panes, as well as the filler between them.
While many homes today have double-glazed windows, triple-glazed panes offer added insulation and comfort. In addition to upgrading to triple-glazed windows, consider various coatings and fillers between those panes and how to choose:
Argon gas prevents heat from escaping through the gap between window panes more effectively than air.
Krypton gas offers even more insulating properties than argon properties and is used for smaller gaps between panes, such as for triple-glazed windows. Krypton gas if often more expensive than argon but triple-glazed windows with krypton gas offer maximum comfort inside your home.
Low-emissivity or low-E coatings block heat transfer through the glass pane. Low-E coated glass is typically more expensive than standard glazing but can reduce energy costs by some 40% to 50%!
The U-factor is the rate at which a window or door allows heat to transfer. The lower the U-factor, the better the insulating quality of a window or door. For maximum insulation in the home and especially in extreme climates, look for windows with the lowest U-factor you can find and fit into your budget..
Most Energy Efficient Window Frames
When choosing window frames, consider the overall insulating properties of the various materials available. Vinyl is tough, durable, and dense, so that it blocks outside heat and cold. Wood is also an excellent insulator and provides lots of visual appeal, although wood window frames need consistent stripping, painting, and sealing.
Composite frames consist of a mixture of materials, often wood and bits of plastic. Composite frames offer the look of real wood but with added durability and insulating factors. Composite window frames also resist moisture and resultant decay, mold, mildew, and wood rot.
Aluminum and metal window frames are often the most affordable option but metal does conduct heat and cold, making aluminum frames poor insulators for your home. In extreme weather conditions, aluminum frames might even be overly hot or cold to the touch! Rooms that don’t need much added insulation are the best candidates for aluminum frames; otherwise, opt for a more dense and durable vinyl or wood.
Most Energy Efficient Window Operation
A window’s operation refers to how it opens and closes. While you might not think that a window’s operation affect its overall energy efficiency, some window styles close more firmly than others, keeping out more heat and cold. Some operational styles also allow for more air circulation into the home, keeping your house cooler during summer months.
Single-hung windows have a bottom pane that slides up and down; the upper pane of double-hung windows also slides up and down. While these windows are very common, they also have high air leakage rates and offer very little insulation for your home.
Awning windows have a hinge at the top of the pane so that the bottom of the window pushes outward. As the sash of an awning window sits snugly in the window frame, awning windows usually have low air leakage rates and high insulating factors. Coated glass of an awning window also deflects sunlight when opened while allowing in fresh air, creating a more comfortable environment inside the home during warm summer months.
Casement windows have a hinge on the side and the pane opens outward, like a door. As the entire pane of a casement window opens, these window styles allow for maximum air circulation in the home. As the sash closes snugly against the window frame, casement windows also have low air leakage rates and offer lots of interior insulation.
Sliders, as the name implies, have at least one pane that slides to the left or right. While sliders offer little air leakage, opening just one pane at a time also reduces fresh air circulation into the home!
Fixed or picture windows don’t open or close. While fixed windows don’t allow fresh air into the home, they also offer excellent insulating properties with little air leakage. Consider fixed or picture windows above or next to other windows in rooms where you need added sunlight but don’t want to worry about losing heating and cooling throughout the year.
Energy Efficient Window Attachments
While choosing from the best types of energy efficient windows is an excellent way to reduce your utility bills while creating a comfortable interior environment, you might note some energy efficient window attachments that also help keep inside temperatures comfortable year-round.
Insulated cellular shades are made of a pleated material with one or more layers of insulating air in a honeycomb pattern between the shade panels. This insulating air blocks heat transfer through the windows, keeping hot air out during summertime and heated air in the home during cold winter months.
Not all curtains and drapes offer the same amount of interior insulation! Densely woven fabrics block heat and cold air while blackout drapes block sunlight and resultant heat. Loosely woven drapes and sheers allow more heat transfer and offer little insulation in the home.
As with drapes and curtains, not all window films are alike. Some tinted films only block sunlight, which might help to keep a home’s interior cool during summertime but which does little else to keep out heat and cold. Insulating films are made with a thick polyester middle layer, to block heat transfer and keep a home’s interior insulated properly.
Metal blinds might conduct heat and cold and offer little insulating properties other than to block the sun on warm summer days! Wood and fabric-covered blinds offer some protection against heat and cold loss while also providing shade inside the home.
Awnings are an excellent choice for blocking harsh sunlight and for keeping cold snow away from a home’s windows. Ensure you choose awnings large enough to provide shade for the entire length of a window rather than decorative awnings that provide visual appeal but little protection for windows.
Exterior shutters offer added insulation as well as shade inside a home. Choose hurricane or rolling shutters for maximum insulating properties, versus decorative hinged shutters.
Are triple glazed windows worth the cost?
Triple-glazed windows with krypton gas are often worth the cost for bedrooms or living rooms where you spend the majority of your time, as those upgraded windows offer maximum insulation and added comfort inside your home.
What brand of windows are the best?
To choose the best brands and types of energy efficient windows, note how long a window manufacturer has been in business. Check their online ratings and warranties offered for all their windows, so you know you choose durable replacement windows that last.