Choosing Energy-Efficient Windows for Your Next Build

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Better understand the benefits of installing energy-efficient windows in your new construction home

Saving energy should be as important to the home builder as it is to the homeowner. Choosing to install energy-efficient products in your new construction homes is a decision that positions you as a forward-thinking company doing your part to support sustainability and help the homeowner save energy and money when it comes to their cooling and heating costs.

Taking a green home building approach benefits both the construction company and the owner. The hallmark of a well-built home has always been quality work and materials, and building a home designed to achieve optimal energy efficiency goes hand-in-hand with that today. Energy-efficient products can bolster your reputation and improve the marketability of the home.

Focusing specifically on windows, we can help you better understand what to look for in terms of energy-efficiency when you are exploring your product options.

Use ENERGY STAR® ratings as a guide to find the right energy-efficient windows for your climate

First, consider the climate before choosing your windows. The energy performance of your windows will be dictated in part by the climate of your area, in addition to the home design. Warmer climates will typically need windows with low emissivity to reflect rather than absorb the sun, and colder climates tend to call for windows with greater thermal performance.

Fortunately, ENERGY STAR has set minimum performance rating criteria for windows, categorized by the type of climate. ENERGY STAR is a government-backed trademark that provides consumers with a reliable source for energy efficiency information about products. Look for their labels on window product lines, which will provide you with information on a number of factors that help determine their energy performance.

Among the factors to consider:

  • U-Factor is the rate of heat loss to the outside. A low U-factor is better.
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), normally listed as a fraction, is the amount of solar radiation that a window lets in. SHGC is measured on a scale from 0 to 1. Window SHGC typically ranges from 0.25 to 0.80. Again, a low number is better.
  • Visible Transmittance (VT) is the amount of light the window lets through. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 1, with values generally ranging from 0.20 to 0.80. The higher the VT, the more light you will see.

Beyond the numbers, where you place the windows in the home design is also an important factor. For example, windows facing the north, in most climates, are used more for lighting because they tend to collect very low levels of solar heat. Conversely, maximizing the efficiency of windows facing south typically means having a solar heat coefficient higher than 0.6 to gain the highest levels of solar heat during winter and a U-factor of 0.35 for heat reduction.

The direction your windows are facing can have a dramatic effect on climate control, so it is critical to factor that in when evaluating the performance ratings of a product.

More panes of glass means more layers of protection between the weather and your home

Multiple panes of glass can make a world of difference in determining the energy efficiency of a home. Double-pane windows are an appealing option to homeowners because of the potential savings on their energy bill. The space between the two layers of glass contains a colorless nontoxic gas that is denser than air and can provide more effective insulation, keeping the cold out during the winter and retaining more heat during the summer.

Triple-pane windows generally cost more than the double-pane alternative, but you are paying for performance. Inserting a middle pane means more advanced protection against the elements and allows that inner pane of the window to stay closer to room temperature.

Pella’s InsulShield glass collection offers different types of double-pane and triple-pane window glass. Each glass type is tailored to accommodate the needs of a different climate, whether you need to block the heat of the sun or deliver balanced insulation for more moderate climates.

Window glazing can make an impact on thermal performance

Window glazing has been used for years to block sunlight and reduce glare. Insulated glazing, created when two or more panes of glass are spaced apart and hermetically sealed, not only lowers the U-factor of your windows but can also improve the SHGC.

Low-Emissivity (Low-E) glass coatings have an important part to play in the energy performance of windows with insulated glazing. Microscopically thin, Low-E coating is an almost invisible metallic oxide that rests on the surface of one or more of the panes of glass. This reflective coating can absorb more solar radiation without compromising light transmission, helping lower the window’s U-factor and decreasing energy loss by as much as 30 to 50 percent.

ENERGY STAR performance ratings, glass options and glazing all help determine the overall energy efficiency of a window, and by extension the home you are building. Choosing the best option means weighing these factors before making a decision, but you can make that decision knowing you are helping improve the design and boost the appeal of your next home build.

You can find out more about energy efficient windows by talking to our professionals at Pella Windows & Doors of Dallas. Call 214-352-9293 or feel free to stop by our showroom.

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