Windows provide light, warmth and ventilation, not to mention a much desired aesthetic element – and they have the potential to make or break the energy efficiency of your home. Windows are generally made of metal, wood or vinyl. Metal windows are the least efficient – they tend to sweat and absorb and transfer heat. You typically find these on older homes. Wood frame windows are better, but wood rots over time and makes these windows susceptible to cracks, leaks and broken seals. Vinyl windows are the best: vinyl doesn’t rot or transfer heat.
Energy efficient technologies are now available to suit any home’s needs. Window frames are designed to seal tight and resist heat transfer. Glass and glazing technologies have become very sophisticated, and there are specific types of glass and coatings recommended for different climates and orientation.
Our Energy Report Card will show you the number and types of windows the home has, as well as their orientation. The report notes whether windows are double or single-pane (double is better), and the presence of low-e coating, solar screens and other energy-saving measures.
Ideally, everyone would install energy efficient windows, but that involves an up-front cost that isn’t an option for everyone. There are ways you can improve the energy efficiency of existing windows.
- Caulking and weatherstripping can be used to seal windows.
- Low-e window film can be applied to single-pane windows to reduce heat absorption. Solar screens should be installed on double-pane windows.
- Install window coverings that limit the amount of light and heat absorbed, like awnings, overhangs, blinds, panels, shutters or drapes.
- Create natural shade by planting trees strategically.