identifying window problems and need for replacement

5 Components Of Energy-Efficient Windows

When it comes to an energy-efficient home, the windows are often the weak spot where a lot of thermal loss can occur. Fortunately, the right windows can solve the issue and lead to maximum efficiency.

1. Pane Number

Energy-efficient windows will always consist of two or more panes of glass layered together in the frame. Glass itself, even when made relatively thick, doesn't provide much insulation. Instead, the insulation is provided by the space between two layers of glass. Double-pane windows are the standard in energy efficiency, but triple-pane options are also available and a good choice for cold climates.

2. Insulation Layer

The air space between the panes is often filled with an insulating gas, which improves the energy efficiency more than an empty air filler. Argon and krypton are popular insulating gas options since they don't interfere with window clarity but improve energy efficiency. Other gases may also be used, depending on the window manufacturer.

3. Glass Coatings

Sometimes coatings will be added to the glass of insulated windows to further improve their energy efficiency. Low-emissivity, or low-E, coatings are the most common. These coatings reflect back UV light and solar radiation, which minimizes heat gain during the summer months. The result is lower cooling needs and reduced warm weather energy usage. The coatings work both ways, though, so they will reflect heat back inside as it tries to escape the home in winter. The result is less heat loss through the windows and less heating energy usage.

4. Frame Insulation

Insulated glass does a lot for a window's energy efficiency, but it isn't complete on its own. Thermal loss can still happen through the window frame. For maximum energy efficiency, you need windows with insulated frames. Vinyl windows often have an insulated core, for example, which can increase the energy efficiency by a lot. Some metal frames also have insulated cores. Additional insulation must also be installed around the window frame during installation.

5. Sealing Spacers

One point of thermal loss that is often overlooked is where the glass is sealed into the window frame. Look for windows that have warm edge spacers at the glass seals if you want better efficiency. These spacers are made of a material that doesn't conduct heat, which prevents heat exchange between the indoors and outdoors at the glass and frame seams. 

Contact an energy-efficient window installer to learn more about the available options for your home.