Windows, doors and skylights are designed to give access to exterior air, light and spaces. But by nature, they also make it easier for air leakage and heat transfer to occur. Energy loss happens when:
- Heat or coolness is directly conducted through glass, glazing, frames and doors
- Heat from the sun radiates into an air-conditioned house—or interior, furnace-generated heat radiates to colder exteriors
- Leaks allow temperature-regulated air to move into or out of a house
As heat is drawn out in cooler weather—or light and heat seep in during warmer weather—energy is lost, and furnaces and air conditioners must work harder to maintain comfortable interior temperatures.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for example, windows can account for 10-25% of your heating bill. To combat this energy loss and save money, you can make some small changes to your current doors, windows or skylights by installing more energy efficient models or making smaller changes to limit energy loss.
What can I do now?
How can I reduce the energy lost from my current windows, doors and skylights?
There are many ways you can reduce your home electricity use without buying new products:
In cold weather:
- Seal heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets to window frames to reduce infiltration
- Use insulating window shades on drafty windows
- Keep curtains and shades closed at night
- Use windows with southern exposure to let in the warmth of winter sun by keeping windows clean and blinds and curtains open during the day
- Install strong, durable, low-e storm windows with weather-stripping (this step alone can reduce heat loss through the windows by 25-50%)
- Keep current storm windows in good repair
- Install a storm door and add weather-stripping around any door’s movable joints
In warm weather:
- Use lighter-colored or white shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
- Keep blinds, drapes and curtains on south- and west-facing windows closed to limit heating from direct sunlight.
What should I look for in new windows and skylights when I am looking to replace?
There are a number of technologies that make windows and skylights more energy efficient. Among them are multiple panes of glass, warm-edge spacers between panes, improved framing materials and low-e coatings. One of the easiest ways to select an energy efficient window is to look for the ENERGY STAR label. If you can’t find the ENERGY STAR label:
- Check for a low U-factor, which describes the rate at which non-solar heat flow is conducted. In general, Coloradans require a U-factor of 0.32 or less to meet ENERGY STAR guidelines.
- Choose Low-E glass, which is coated with a clear, energy-saving film
- Choose a gas-fill of argon, krypton or another inert gas, which provides some insulation
For most parts of Colorado, look for skylights with a Northern Climate Zone ENERGY STAR certification, which should include the following characteristics:
- U-Factor: 0.55 or less
- Low-E glass
- Wood, vinyl, fiberglass or composite frame material
- Gas fill of argon, krypton or other inert gas (not used in all units)
- Learn about and find manufacturers of ENERGY STAR rated windows, doors, and skylights.
- See the U.S. Department of Energy’s windows, doors, and skylights .
Original article here
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