If you have old, poorly sealed, single-pane windows in your home, you're very likely letting energy literally leak right out of your home. The type of windows you choose and how well you seal them are both important parts of any eco-friendly and energy-efficient home design or renovation. So if you want to keep more heat (or cool air) inside your home and use less energy, while also lowering HVAC costs, install double-pane windows.
DOUBLE PANE WINDOWS - WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
- Look for products that have argon gas or other gases in the space between the panes, as this improves the windows' insulation ability.
- Other double-pane windows are tinted with special coatings (called Low-E coatings for “low emissivity”). These actually reflect the sun's heat in the summer and trap heat inside during the winter.
- According to the Efficient Windows Collaborative website, consumers should “select a window manufacturer who manufactures and sells energy efficient products (i.e., meets the recommended U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient in your climate), has a reputation for service and stability, and provides a warranty on the unity.”
- Understand that product recommendations vary according to climate, so it's important to educate yourself about what kind of window is right for your individual climate and needs.
- The Efficient Windows Collaborative recommends that you 1) look for the ENERGY STAR , 2) look for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label, and 3) a labor and product estimate that's right for your budget.
- Installing high-efficiency Energy Star windows can reduce heating and cooling costs by 15 percent annually; you can save from $125 to $340 a year when you replace single-pane windows with their Energy Star equivalents.
SEALING WINDOWS FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
While choosing double-pane windows will get you a long way towards a more energy-efficient home, sealing them tightly is also important.
- According to the Department of Energy, if every gas-heated home were properly caulked and weather-stripped, we'd save enough natural gas each year to heat almost four million more homes.
- Seal all holes, cracks, and gaps where escaping air can raise your heating and air-conditioning costs.
- Most experts agree that the simple practice of caulking and weatherstripping around your home's doors and windows will reap significant energy savings in one year.
- To minimize indoor air-pollution, be sure to choose low- and no-VOC caulks and weatherstripping for the project.
- Try Quick Shield VOC-Free Sealant ( www.geocelusa.com ).
- Two sources of weather stripping online are M-D Building Products and Resource Conservation Technology .
- You can also find weather stripping at most hardware stores.