If you have ever wondered why your electricity bill and/or heating bill is much higher in the winter and summer, you may want to take a look at your windows. For residential heating and cooling energy, windows are responsible for 25 to 30 percent all year round. If you are wondering how to fix this, there are two popular choices: replace your windows or update them.
Check existing windows for air leaks caused by cracked panes. If the panes are in good condition, you can add or redo the caulk or weatherstrip, which is a quick and cheap solution. Another affordable and easy solution is putting up shades, blinds, and/or curtains. These can increase window insulation, keeping the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Adding storm panels and exterior shading can be more expensive and add more insulation.
If you do need a replacement window, you probably need to consider changing the frames, which can be extremely important in lowering your electricity bill. To start, there are several different types:
Then, you will have to choose the glaze type out of these three:
These are important because they also can improve your home's energy efficiency. So can the gas fills, argon or krypton, and the spacers. Finally, you will have to choose how the windows will open. This is also called the operating types. The eight traditional types are:
For more detailed information on the frames, glazes, and operating types go to energy.gov.
Always look for an ENERGY STAR and NFRC label. These mean that the windows are well insulated and energy-efficient, and if you live in a colder region, you may need those and gas-filled windows that have Low-E coatings. For warmer climates, keep your eye out for a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) because these will keep your home cooler in the summer. Finally, for those homes that get those frigid winters and scorching summers, find windows with both low U-factors and low SHGCs, especially if they are whole units.
Whether it is a cheap replacement window or an expensive energy-efficient one, all must be properly installed. Otherwise, any poor sealing, cracks, or unprofessional installation can completely backfire and cause a bigger problem. It is recommended that a professional install any windows because every type is stalled differently. However, if you are installing them yourself, it is important to note that flashing and air sealing must always be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations.
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