Everything You Need to Know About Energy Efficient Windows

Windows are just supposed to be a panel of glass that separates inside from outside, right? Seems pretty basic. So what exactly makes a window energy efficient? Considering how experts speak so much about how an ecological home makes you money, should you go out and upgrade now.

Image credit: Middle Creek Roofing, LLC

What Makes an Energy Efficient Window?

Believe it or not, your bedroom window has a lot more going on than just a sliding panel of glass. Here are the requirements in order to be considered an Energy Star home window:

  • Frame Material. Different materials are more durable and have less impact on the environment to be constructed. That, balanced with materials that best keep heat inside, will help a window meet the first qualification.
  • Glass Coating. You can’t tell by looking at it, but energy efficient glass actually has a tint to reflect infrared light. Not only does this reduce air transfer, but also protects the inside from harmful rays.
  • Multiple Panes. A green window actually has (at least) two panes, not just one. Again, you’d have no idea by just looking at it with a naked eye.
  • Gas Filling. So what’s in between those multiple panes? It’s usually filled with a layer of gas. Argon, krypton, and the like are odorless, colorless, and provide better insulation.
  • Non-Metal Spacing. Those two panels of glass have to be held apart by more than just gas. There’s actually a little buffer hidden behind the frame to hold the panes apart. Metal spacing is inefficient and could cost the window its Energy Star rating.

Who knew so much thought went into a window?

Should You Upgrade?

It may sound a bit backwards, but even Energy.gov doesn’t recommend rushing out and buying Energy Star windows. There are plenty of obvious pros to an energy efficient upgrade, but you need to crunch the numbers first and consider all your options.

Depending on how many windows you plan to change, a project of this magnitude could take a week to tackle. Also, the average cost for upgrading a house-worth of windows is about $9,000. Going green isn’t always cheap!

Don’t stop reading! There are still plenty of pros. Depending on where you live, upgrading to green windows will save you anywhere from $120-$465 in energy costs each year. Furthermore, it will almost pay for itself in resale, usually adding about $7,800 to home value.

So the real drawback to upgrading to Energy Star windows isn’t the cost, although it can be a costly renovation. The reason you’re encouraged to reconsider is that you can accomplish most of the same savings by simply fixing up the windows you currently have. Re-caulk around the glass and fix any cracks or rotting around the frames, and you’ll get the same eco-boost in your home for a fraction of the cost!

Whether you decide to just fix ‘em up or entirely replace them, fresh windows will help with home value, energy costs, and general health.

Energy efficient windows are state-of-the-art and make for a great investment on your home. However, if your current windows aren’t in dire conditions, you can accomplish the energy efficiency with just some weekend handiwork.