Energy efficiency is about doing more with less energy. This benefits you from a financial standpoint, it benefits the economy and most importantly, it benefits the environment. Why should you improve energy efficiency? Well, the most tangible thing would be that by reducing energy consumption, you will reduce the cost of your bills, therefore saving money month by month. If you are concerned about the environment, which you should, you ought to know that this is a solution to the problem of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and controlling global emissions of greenhouse gases.
In many countries energy efficiency is seen as a priority, mostly from an economic standpoint.But after all, at the end of the day, we should all be concerned about energy efficiency and we should take matters in our own hands. Each and every one of us has the immense responsibility of taking care of the environment we live in. So here is something you can do to help yourself and socially responsible.
Energy Efficiency in Your Own Home
It has been proven that modern appliances use significantly less energy than older appliances. A study shows that if all households in Europe were the change their more than 10 year old appliances into new ones, 20 billion kWh of electricity would be saved annually, reducing CO2 emissions. For instance, by replacing your old freezers, oven, stoves, dishwashers or dryers, you would use 40 percent less energy. Isn’t that something?Also, simple hacks could do the trick. For example, by installing a clothesline, you will significantly use less energy as the dryer will be used less.
Windows and doors, walls and roofs, they all have a huge say in your household energy efficiency. Just think about the gas costs. You can minimize energy costs by maximizing passive solar heating. Impressive, right?But let us focus on your house’s weak spot: the windows.
What do windows do? They provide homes with sunlight, warmth and if opened, ventilation. So far so good. However, they can also negatively impact your home’s energy efficiency. The greatest way to reduce costs is to replace your windows with ones that are energy efficient.
First of all, if your budget is tight, do not despair. There are efficient ways to improve your existing windows that allow you to stay within modest budget limits. For instance, you can improve the energy efficiency by adding storm windows, weather-stripping and using window coverings. The later can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. However, you should keep in mind that these solutions aren’t effective at reducing infiltration or air leakage.
And while we are on the subject of budget, be wary of the trap: true, a few adjustments here or there will save you money for now, but in the long run, since they are not a permanent fix, they will end up costing you more. So technically, it is more cost effective to replace the windows rather than just perform minor adjustments. New energy efficient windows, when properly installed, will pay for themselves in the long run due to the lowered heating and cooling costs.
A window’s efficiency is dependent upon its component: the frame and the glass panel.
Types of Replacement Window Frames
You should take into consideration the energy-efficient feature of your replacement windows as well as their style. There are plenty of possible materials for your window frames, depending on your budget or taste.
Aluminum: they are the most affordable, but not so efficient. They are best recommended in ultra-modern construction, for their simple, minimalistic lines. Their biggest drawback is that during the winter, the condensation on the window frames can cause serious mold issues.
Vinyl: Vinyl window frames are one of the most popular options on the market. They are highly efficient, they are extremely easy to maintain and if taken care of properly, they can look great for many years.
Fiberglass: Cost wise, it can be compared to wood options. They look neat, clean and stylish. Furthermore, they are moderately efficient and have the great advantage of being very lightweight.
Wood: Wood frames give an authentic feel and are best suited for historic, quaint houses. Keep in mind that they are slightly heavier and pricier than the vinyl or aluminum versions, but they make up for that in the long run though their durability and high efficiency.
Referring to windows alone, you can select from multiple options. You should take in consideration the energy performance ratings in relation to your climate. Also, note that the way windows open and close is also an important factor, because some have lower air leakage rates than others, and this will impact your home’s energy efficiency. Some types include:
- Awning. These are hinged at the top and open outward. They generally have lower air leakage rates.
- Casement. These are hinged at the sides. Very similar to awning windows because they also have lower air leakage rates than sliding windows.
- Fixed.They are fixed panes that do not open. They are generally airtight.
- Hopper. They are hinged at the bottom and open inward. Like both awning and casement, they also have lower air leakage rates.
- Single- and double-hung. Both sashes slide vertically in a double-hung window. They generally have higher air leakage rates.
- Single- and double-sliding. Both sashes slide horizontally in a double-sliding window. Like single- and double-hung windows, they generally have higher air leakage rates than projecting or hinged windows.
For more on styles and designs, make sure to check out Exterior Transformations.
What you should be looking for in your window is its ability to retain heat and extreme sunlight in the summer, and to retain cold and leakage in winter time. High-reflective window films help block summer heat but they are also a great choice for winter time, since they also block the sun’s heat in cool seasons. Silver films are more effective than the more transparent ones. When choosing the films, you should be wary of factors such as weather, humidity, window positioning and any other climatic exceptions.
However, these films have some overall disadvantages, including the loss of interior light, they require extra care when cleaning them and they reduce outside visibility. They are extremely easy to apply, and no professional assistance is needed.Another fairly inexpensive solution are insulated panels. They consist of a core of rigid foam board insulation and you can clip them into the interior of the window. Simple as that.One effective solution are mesh window screens, which can diffuse solar radiation, hence reducing heat gain in summer time
Now that you know what to look for, let us know how it worked out for you!