With so much information available, it can be overwhelming to try to understand what makes the best energy efficient windows. Below you will find our handy guide to the best energy efficient windows for your home.
The Best Energy Efficient Windows Basics
What are some of the basic components of the best energy efficient windows? First of all, the best energy efficient windows often feature double or triple-panes, rather than single-panes.
While both double and triple-paned windows are insulating, the best energy efficient windows are often triple-paned. Triple paned will keep your home quieter and will reduce heat loss, possibly saving you as much as 2-3% on your heating bills. Single-paned windows are typically featured in older homes. If you have single-paned windows, you may want to consider replacing them with double or triple-paned windows.
The best energy efficient windows will keep your home snug. | @ fotolia.com / jörn buchheim
Improving Energy Efficiency for Existing Windows
Storm windows are among the best energy efficient windows, keeping your home safe and snug during extreme temperatures and weather. Additionally, caulking and weatherstripping will provide your windows with a tighter seal, which will help to reduce drafts of cold air. Caulk can be used for stationary cracks or small gaps between the glass and the window frame. Weatherstripping works well for parts of the window that move, such as operable windows.
You may also want to consider window treatments. A set of insulated curtains are an easy way to keep your rooms warm in the winter. Other special curtains will keep your rooms shady and cool during the summer.
There are many glass options for the best energy efficient windows. Gas-filled windows have a colorless, odorless gas between the separate panes of glass. The gas acts as an insulator, reducing the heat transfer between your home's interior and the outside world.
Low-emissitivity (or low-e) coatings is a type of window glazing that controls heat flow, keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Additionally, homeowners who live in warmer climates may want to consider spectrally selective coatings for their windows. Spectrally selective coatings keep your home cool, without blocking any of the beautiful natural light.
Check out our window glass guide for about the different types of window glazing.
Passive Solar Design
The best energy efficient windows are often important elements in a home's passive solar design. Passive solar design refers to the ways in which a home is designed in order to maximize its natural sources of light and solar heat.
In colder climates, homeowners should consider homes with south-facing windows that can collect solar heat during the winter. In warmer climates, north-facing windows or generously shaded south-facing windows are best. North facing windows do not collect much solar heat, so these windows can provide lighting while keeping your home cool.
Keep in mind that, especially for older homes, it may be more cost-effective and energy efficient to replace your windows, rather than continuing to pour money into costly repairs. For more information about the best energy efficient windows, check out our guide to Energy Star windows.