What You Need to Know Before Choosing Energy-Efficient Windows

Striving for an energy-efficient home is both a noble step for the environment and a prudent step for your wallet. If it is time to upgrade your windows, take it as an opportunity to also make your home more eco-friendly and energy-efficient.

Up to 30 percent of the energy usage for residential climate control is due to heat loss or gain through the home’s windows, so choosing the right energy-efficient windows can result in major energy and monetary savings. Before choosing your new windows, it helps to have a better understanding of the factors that can affect their energy efficiency.

Know Your Climate Considerations

Your local climate has a major impact on your window needs. For example, if tornadoes or other wind events are common, then impact resistant windows may be necessary.

Areas with mild summers but extreme winters may have different window needs compared to those with extreme summer heat but mild winters. Microclimates, such as which side of your house is most exposed to summer sun and which side gets hit the hardest by cold winter winds, should also be considered.

Heat and energy can be lost when the warmth passes through a window via conduction, or from the cold outside pushing against a poorly insulated window until the indoor air cools via convection. Radiant transfer can also be an issue, such as the heat of the sun shining through a window and undermining your attempts to cool the home.

In Missouri where four seasons are the norm, it may make sense to have windows with a low-e coating that reflects solar heat on the south side of the home, while double or even triple paned windows may be a good idea on the north side or the most exposed side of the home during the winter months. 

Check the Ratings

Ratings help you understand which windows will meet your energy needs. The most common way to quickly verify energy efficiency ratings on a window is through the Energy Star program. Energy Star is a certification that window manufacturers provide that helps consumers understand the efficiency of different window models.

There are five categories used to determine this rating: the rate of heat transfer, rate of solar heat blockage, air leakage, how much light is allowed inside, and the condensation build-up rate. While an overall number is assigned for the efficiency in all categories is assigned, you can also look at the individual results for each category when trying to make a decision.

In some cases, it may make sense to focus on only a few of these ratings. For a sun exposed window where condensation is rarely an issue, a window with a high rate of solar heat blockage and low rate of heat transfer is much more important than the condensation build-up rate. On the other hand, in the bathroom or kitchen where condensation can be a problem, you may want to shift focus to choosing a window with a low rate of condensation build-up.

Research Warranties and Workmanship

The final key to choosing the best windows for your home is understanding the warranties and workmanship of the particular models you are considering. Warranties typically fall into two main categories: those that cover the materials of the windows and those that cover the workmanship of the window installers. Naturally, it is best to choose windows and installers with the highest ratings possible.

The manufacturer typically provides the warranty on the windows. At a minimum, it should cover any defects with the glass and frames, sealing of the panes, and any coating issues. The installer provides the warranty for workmanship. Your installer should guarantee their work and be willing to fix, at their cost, any defects that are a result of poor installation practices.

Contact us at Fischer Window & Door Store to learn more about the best windows for lowering your home’s energy usage.