Why should you replace your old windows and opt for new, more expensive energy-efficient windows? There are many benefits that come from spending the extra money on replacement energy-efficient windows, including various forms of money-saving incentives.
Choosing the Right Energy Efficient Window in Lancaster, PA
There are a few things to consider during your hunt for the perfect energy-efficient windows for your home. Making sure that the window you choose has an NFRC and U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star ratings labels is very important before making a purchase. These ratings are the only definitive way of telling whether or not a window has quality energy efficiency. As well, you should consider what style of window you’d prefer. This could affect what materials you have available, such as low-e or inert gas. Considering sun exposure will also affect the levels of u-factor and SHGC you’ll want for your new energy-efficient windows.
The NFRC and Energy Star
The NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) is a non-profit, private/public organization created by the window, door, and skylight industry. All major standards and programs for window efficiency based criteria is by NFRC. This organization’s criteria are considered the only reliable way to determine window energy properties and to compare products. Energy Star works with all the requirements by the NFRC and specifies them to various climate regions throughout the United States, for example Lancaster, PA, where Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is based, is located in the Northern region. By compiling all this information, Energy Star makes it easy for you to determine what products have superior performance, especially for your area.
U-factor and SHGC
There are other factors you should look into after confirming that the windows you want are NFRC and Energy Star rated. Based on where you live the efficiency of your new windows is affected by various qualifications.
When a window is being verified as energy-efficient two important efficiency factors are measured, u-factor and SHGC. U-factor refers to the rate of heat flow through a window. To be qualified, the U-factor must be between .20 and 1.20. In this measurement, the lower the number, the better the insulator the window is. In areas such as Lancaster County, PA the recommended level should be .35 or less for proper insulation. SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) is the amount of solar radiation that is allowed through the window. The allowable level is between 0 and 1, with Lancaster County, PA being recommended at up to .55. A lower number means lower levels of solar radiation and heat that passes through the window, minimizing air conditioning usage. There are other factors you might like to take into account when choosing your new energy-efficient windows.
VT, DP, Condensation Resistance, and Air Leakage
Other, less important factors include VT, DP, Condensation Resistance, and Air Leakage. The NFRC and Energy Star don’t require these other factors to be at a certain range. VT (Visible Transmittance) is the only factor that has a required measurement, which should be between 0 and 1. The lower the number, the less light that can pass through the window. If VT is too low, there will be issues with a room being too dark. This can counteract energy savings by relying on artificial lighting to properly light the room.
Furthermore, the other efficiency factors don’t have required measurements. DP (Structural-Design Pressure) refers to the amount of wind pressure the window can take when closed and locked. The higher the number, the better the pressure resistance. This is important in geographical locations with strong storms. Condensation resistance refers to how well a window resists condensation. Usually the recommended measurement is between 1 and 100, with the lower the number indicating a higher build-up. This is important for hot, humid regions as condensation can cause mold and discoloration. Required measurements for air leakage aren’t typical because of changes caused by the environment. The initial measured air leakage levels tend to change over the years as materials expand and contract. For this measurement, the lower the number, the more airtight your window is. Since this number changes over time, the standard building code calls for a level of .3.
Notably, the benefit of going with energy-efficient windows is that it saves money by lowering energy bills year round. Average savings per year is between $101 and $583. Located in the Northern climate region, Lancaster, PA saves about $366 yearly. For a double pane window, average yearly savings are between $27 and $197, with the Northern region saving about $134. The benefits of going energy-efficient don’t just stop with your energy bills.
Additionally to saving money year round on heating and cooling, energy-efficient windows also reduce greenhouse gas emission from power plants. Your home’s temperature will also stay more consistent because you’re reducing drafts from the windows. By diminishing solar radiation and UV levels, u-factor and SHGC greatly reduce the damage to floors, carpets, and furniture. In fact, this means you’ll be able to save money by extending the life of items around your home. If these benefits weren’t enough to have you make the switch, installing energy-efficient windows can increase your home’s value by an average of $12,000.
Low-e, Argon and Krypton Gas
There are several options for reducing u-factor and SHGC. Specifically, this includes low-e coatings, Argon or Krypton gas between panes rather than the low-e coating. Low-e (low-emissivity) is a glazing on the panes of glass that controls heat transfer through windows. This glazing is a microscopically thin, transparent, metal or oxide layer that helps lower the u-factor. Low-e reflects back the heat or re-radiates the heat back off the window.
Both Argon and Krypton gas are clear, odorless, and non-toxic. When it comes to choosing whether or not you want Argon or Krypton there are a few things to consider. Argon is cheaper than Krypton, but Krypton has better insulating properties. Argon is more effective at insulating double pane windows because it fills the larger gap between panes better than Krypton. Krypton is better suited for three pane windows since it fills the smaller gaps between the three panes better than Argon. A lot of the time people get a combination of these gases to strike a balance between cost and performance.
Along with the cost savings and equity building that comes along with replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones, you can also possibly qualify for tax incentives. To take advantage of these incentives, your windows need to follow NFRC supplied measurements and must have the manufacturer’s signed statement that their product complies with IRS requirements. This is usually provided with purchase or may be available on the manufacturer’s website. There are several websites that have compiled various incentive programs. DSIRE, Energy Star, and the Department of Energy all have search databases that can help you find out if you qualify for any of the incentives available.
Great Lakes Window
At Shakespeare Home Improvement Co., we are partnered with Great Lakes Window. They provide excellent energy efficiency (adding up to 40 percent savings on heating and cooling bills) and many options that will fit your personal style. In addition, they also have technologies that increase a window’s durability and efficiency so that they last for many years. To help with energy efficiency there are many windows to choose from, including those that are under the Eco-Smart line. What make these windows more efficient? These windows are made with SmartCore, a solid polyurethane insulation, which is increasingly used for insulating homes to increase energy efficiency. As a result, this insulation provides two times the insulating properties of fiberglass insulation.
Great Lakes has plenty of options for increasing durability including RigidCore Reinforcement, I-Beam Reinforcement, and EcoCore Reinforcement. RigidCore Reinforcement is a fiberglass reinforcement inside of the sill at the meeting rail of double hung and sliding windows. This creates unsurpassed strength and durability of your windows. I-Beam Reinforcement provides additional strength at the sill to keep windows square. This means that they work like new for longer than other windows. EcoCore Reinforcement is a fusion weld on the frame and sash which enhances strength, durability and also increases thermal properties.
Obviously there are many other window options out there to choose from that aren’t Great Lakes Window. Being a company that’s partnered with Great Lakes Window, we have a lot of information available to provide you with of examples of what’s out there to choose from while you shop around for the perfect window. For your own research try the Energy Star Search to compare the windows you like. Just select your climate region and from there you can search the specific products to see every qualification they reach.
Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. specializes in installation and replacement windows. In Lancaster, PA we are the top installers available with a partnership with Great Lakes Window. This company provides top-quality energy-efficient windows that will last for years and has a limited lifetime warranty on all windows. If you’re interested in purchasing energy-efficient windows contact us today for a free estimate