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Energy-Efficient Windows

Energy-Efficient Windows Energy efficiency has long been a concern of homeowners and builders alike. But as energy prices rise and environmental issues intensify, more homeowners than ever are looking beyond heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems to design solutions that will help achieve both comfort and efficiency in the home.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in today’s window and door selection process, as natural heating and cooling systems continue to gain popularity as a simple and affordable energy conservation strategy for homeowners.

The concept of using windows and doors as a way to control air flow in homes is not a new one, since people have always opened windows and doors to provide fresh air, dissipate odors and smoke, and eliminate heat and moisture from in their home. The new trend is to think about how to place windows and doors throughout your home in a way that is not just aesthetically pleasing, but that also maximizes air flow and manages sunlight.

More deliberate design can drastically reduce heating and cooling costs by maximizing the winter sun and summer breezes to make the home comfortable in all seasons. Virtually any home can utilize natural cooling and heating methods with a little careful consideration.

Windows are one of the most important features to consider maximizing a home's natural heating and cooling capabilities. Proper selection, orientation, and sizing of windows can dramatically impact a home's energy efficiency, reducing energy costs by 35 percent or more in some cases.

Effectiveness of natural heating and cooling depends on climate and a home's design and site orientation, but here a few principles to consider.

Window Selection
Windows and doors are the portals through which sunlight enters a home. By controlling the size and location of these, a homeowner can effectively manage the amount of light and heat they let inside during different times of day. A window or door’s insulation properties (U-Value), solar heat gain coefficient rating (SHGC) and visible light transmittance help you compare when shopping for new or replacement windows.

Site Orientation
The overall orientation of the home will impact the effectiveness of this type of system and will vary by climate. A home's south and west sides receive the most sunlight, and the east and the north ones receive less. Placing windows where they are most effective helps homeowners take advantage of their home's layout, and manage the sun’s energy during different times of year.

Window Placement
Window placement also affects a home's natural ventilation. Spacing windows diagonally from one another, allows air to channel through, not across, a space. Windows located higher in the building, such as clerestory windows or venting skylights on the roof, funnel warm air out and increase air circulation throughout the home.

Window Type
With an increasingly diverse selection of windows at all price points, there are options for every home. Many homeowners are now looking for windows that offer glass with different SHGC properties and tinting to manage sunlight. In most cases, low-e, gas-filled and multi-paned windows are optimum for energy efficient design, but a clear understanding of different ratings helps determine what’s best for any given home.

Awnings, shades and other accessories are an equally important piece of the energy-efficient equation. Overhangs above south or west-facing windows can help minimize heat from the summer sun, while interior drapes and shades offer versatile control over sunlight as the seasons change.

Beyond careful selection and placement of windows and overhangs, landscaping can also help to protect the structure from the elements. Strategically placed trees and bushes can offer additional shading from intense sun during the summer, but ample sunlight in the winter once the leaves fall.

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6/15/2024 • 20931376