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What are Energy-Efficient Windows?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2020
    Conjecture Corporation
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Energy-efficient windows not only help keep a home more comfortable, they also help save a considerable amount on utility bills. The main goal of energy-efficient windows is to reduce air leakage inside the home. There are a number of different things that can be done to help make energy-efficient windows. From more than one pane of glass, to different casements and glazings, window technology has improved substantially over the years.

The first step to energy-efficient windows is using more than one pane of glass. Just like additional layers of clothes help maintain heat on a person, additional panes can do the same thing, both for cold air and warm air. A window with a double pane is common. Also becoming more popular are triple-paned windows.

There is considerable debate among contractors and home designers on the cost-effectiveness of triple-paned windows. While there is no doubt that they offer more efficiency than double-paned windows, the increased energy efficiency is a much smaller gain than it is when going from single-paned to double-paned. Generally speaking, some may recommend triple-paned windows to filter out noise, rather than control energy costs. Still, for those who plan to live in the home for decades, the costs will eventually be paid back in energy savings.

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Energy-efficient windows mean more than just adding extra panes of glass. Adding a gas between the panes can help provide some additional insulation. Gases such as krypton and argon are often used between those panes. These gasses are considered a better insulator than air alone.

Special coatings, called low-emission coatings, can also help create more energy-efficient windows. These coatings reflect infrared light, a prime source for heat. This helps retain heat inside the home in the winter and keep heat outside in the summer. Further, these glazings also help protect against ultraviolet light, which can help reduce fading, or bleaching, of fabrics inside the home. Glazings, some tinted, can be added to these low-emission coatings to help provide even more energy efficiency.

Frame materials can also make a difference in energy-efficient windows. While aluminum windows are not known for being energy-efficient, there have been some improvements even with that material. Generally, energy-efficient windows are made from vinyl or fiber glass frames. Wood composites are another material that can be used to create energy-efficient windows.

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