When homeowners are in the market for energy-saving window options, it can be easy to get lost in all of the marketing jargon. To make sure you’re getting everything you want out of your new windows-and not wasting your money on things you don’t need-here are six questions to ask when shopping for energy-efficient windows that will help ensure that you land on the right product.
1. What is the window’s efficiency rating and why does it matter?
Insulation ratings for windows are known as U-values, and the lower a window’s U-value, the more efficient that window will be (i.e., it will let less heat escape). If you live in an area where temperatures can be unseasonably high or low, you’re going to want to invest in an energy-efficient window that’s able to keep the heat in when it’s cold and reduce the amount of sun coming into your home when it’s hot. Otherwise, you could inadvertently increase your utility bills without even realizing what you did by choosing a window whose U-value isn’t suited for your location.
2. How do windows compare to other insulation materials?
While you might not realize it, window installation is actually one of the easiest and most affordable ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency without sacrificing too much in terms of design (and there are plenty of options that don’t look like your typical window, either!). For example, adding insulation to your attic is an equally effective way of increasing the energy efficiency in your home; however, it requires more time (and money) to complete.
3. Are there different types of windows that I should be aware of before making a purchase?
While you might think there’s only one type of window, there is actually a variety to choose from. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may want to look into single-pane windows, double-pane windows, skylights, bay or bow windows, sliding windows, tilting windows (which come in handy for areas with high traffic), French doors, or even garden windows. And if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, awning windows might be worth a look because they don’t require a full replacement of your current window system and allow you to retract the window from the inside so there’s no hassle with pests or weather while it’s open.
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type?
Do your research into the different types of windows and then determine which ones will fit best with your needs. Depending on where you live, you’ll want to make sure that you choose a window whose U-value is appropriate for your location. Skylights, for example, provide gorgeous natural light and can be part of an eco-friendly home, but they can be a pain to manage in areas with high winds or lots of snow.
5. Is specialty glass worth the investment or will standard glass work just as well for my needs?
While some windows offer additional benefits such as noise reduction and UV protection, you might not need them if your home is already equipped with efficient insulation and AC. If you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of your windows, though, specialty glass that helps reduce air conditioning costs or prevents heat from transferring into your living areas might be worth considering.
6. Will a contractor install my new windows, or can I DIY with ease?
While an entirely DIY installation is possible for some windows, others require the services of a professional. Make sure to take your time shopping for windows and narrowing down your options. Window installation is an investment you don’t want to rush, especially if you’re looking to make energy efficiency improvements.
Overall, there are several factors to consider when shopping for energy-efficient windows including U-values, different types of windows available, the benefits and disadvantages you’ll experience with each type, specialty glass, and whether or not you want to DIY.