Energy efficiency encompasses a broad scope of subjects. These can include building materials and household appliances. One area that’s often under-recognized, but that can greatly affect the energy efficiency of a home, is windows.
Different window frames offer not only a wide variety of functional and aesthetic features, but also a broad price range, making new windows possible for nearly any budget. The most common materials for frames are:
Vinyl frames are a great option for those seeking low maintenance, affordability and excellent insulative properties from their window replacements. Vinyl has incredible UV resistance, holds up in a wide variety of climates. Vinyl frames come in a great selection of colors but there are only two that actually are embedded in the vinyl, not painted. The other color options are baked on color finishes.
Wood is a timeless choice for your window frames. There is nothing that compares to the warmth and rich texture of the authentic wood grain. Wood is a naturally insulative material and enhances the beauty of any home. Wood requires regular maintenance to maintain its beauty and functionality.
Fiberglass is a highly versatile, virtually maintenance-free material and allows for windows to be created with the same profile as complex wood frames. It is weather-resistant and does not suffer many of the same problems wood might, such as swelling, cracking or shrinking. It is also very cost-effective for those looking to replace wood-framed windows without compromising the style of their home.
Window Types Designed for Efficiency
Not all windows are created equal. Some designs offer the optimum balance of efficiency and curb appeal. This allows homeowners to replace windows on any style of home while maintaining the look and feel of the original architecture.
A classic and clean design, double-hung windows offer a great deal of versatility. They slide vertically, and their space-saving style makes them a great option for tight spaces. When equipped with good seals, they help keep drafts to a minimum.
Hinged at the sides and opening out, casement windows are another favorite of many homeowners. Casement windows have the lowest air leakage ratings and block the most drafts.
Window Glass Options
A good window frame is nothing without the right glass. Certain types of glass and coatings can greatly increase the efficiency of your windows and their ability to maintain the desired ambient temperature inside your home.
Understanding U-Value and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)
When exploring your options for new windows, you’ll see the terms “U-value” and “SHGC” often. What exactly do these terms mean? How can they help you determine what you want or need from your new windows?
In basic terms, the U-value is a measurement of the way heat transmits through a part of a building, such as windows, roofs or walls. It can also be used to indicate the thickness of a building material, such as insulation or glass. With U-values, the lower the number, the more effective the insulating properties. Obviously, you want to choose windows that are going to give you the best U-value rating for your budget.
SHGC stands for “solar heat gain coefficient” and uses fractional ratings between 0 and 1. The lower the SHGC, the less heat transfers from the exterior. Also with a lower SHGC number, there is less natural light so it can be a catch 22.
There are numerous window coatings that can help control the amount of heat and light transmitted through the glass. Each of these coatings has some great benefits for improving the efficiency of your windows:
Low-e coatings reduce the amount of UV and infrared light that passes through your glass without compromising the quality of light entering the room. Low-e coatings have a light, greenish tint. The two types of Low E coatings include Soft Coat Low E and Hard Coat Low E.
Soft Coat Low E is on the inside of the glass so it cannot be scratched. It is the most advanced type of Low e coating. Generally speaking, there are two different kinds, low e 2 and low e 3. Low e 2 is better for climates such as Colorado because it blocks a large amount of heat in the summer but will also allow for heat transfer in the winter. Low e 3 is more beneficial for climates such as Arizona where its primary purpose is to block heat.
Hard Coat Low E is on the outside of the glass. This coating is most common in new construction windows.
Most manufacturers use gas fills to displace the air in double-paned windows. The two most popular gasses are argon and krypton. Of the two, argon is the most commonly used. It’s less expensive, but that comes with a price — lower energy efficiency. A very small number of manufacturers use krypton gas. Krypton, unlike argon, is a much heavier gas, drastically improving the air displacement and energy efficiency.
Heat Mirror Glass
A highly superior means of improving energy efficiency, heat mirror glass also offers the option of customization. There is a suspended film in between the panes in a window and heat mirror glass reflects heat straight back out to its source while still allowing light to pass through unaltered. Heat mirror is the most energy efficient type of glass.
Proper Installation Is Vital
You can purchase the most advanced and energy-efficient windows in the world, but if they’re not installed properly, it’s like throwing money out the … well … window. Poorly framed windows can create voids that allow not only air to enter, but possibly pests. Crooked windows won’t open properly and can create a great deal of unnecessary wear and tear on the window and its moving components. In other words, make sure you find a reputable company with a proven track record in the area of window installation.
Kensington Quantum 2 Windows: The Right Windows for Your Energy Efficiency Needs
If you’re looking for the best of all worlds when it comes to windows, you’ll find that Kensington, Quantum 2 windows are the answer. Kensington, Quantum 2 is the only manufacturer of heat mirror glass. Easy to clean, the vinyl frames and sashes of Kensington, Quantum 2 windows are a breeze to care for. In addition, they help cut your heating and cooling bills by reflecting the heat outside during the summer and holding the heat inside during the winter months. They also use krypton gas, making them much more insulative. Each and every Kensington, Quantum 2 window includes foam-filled insulation in the frames and sashes, further improving their energy efficiency. Add to this the 99.5 percent UV protection they provide and top it off with a lifetime warranty — how can you go wrong?
Improve your home’s energy efficiency with Kensington, Quantum 2 Series vinyl windows, powered by Kensington glass. Winter is around the corner, and these windows will help you stay warm despite the Colorado chill. Contact us for a replacement window quote today!