We’ve just finished one of the hottest summers on record. And it seems, we are moving into winter without much of a fall. Running your AC to fend off the blazing heat of a St. Louis summer may have left you with energy bills that were higher than expected. Now that we’re moving straight into winter your furnace is going to be getting a workout. If you’re looking for a way to cut down on your energy costs, installing energy efficient, replacement windows could be just what you need to knock those skyhigh utility bills down to size.
The Lingo of Energy Efficient Windows
Before we take a look at the cost and benefits, it is important to get a handle on the jargon of energy efficient windows.
Low E – Low emittance coatings are ultra-thin coatings placed on the outside of the window. This thin, nearly invisible coating enhances the window’ s ability to reflect heat instead of absorbing it.
Glazing – Glazing is nothing more than the glass pain used in the window.
Single Glazed, Double Glazed or Triple Glazed – Single glazed windows only have one sheet of glass. Double glazed windows have two sheets of glass with a small air gap in between. Triple glazed windows have you guessed it, three panes of glass.
Gas-Filled – These windows have argon or krypton gas between each pane of glass. The gas between the sheets of glass acts as an insulator. This extra insulator helps to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Understanding Energy Efficient Window Costs
When first entering the market for energy efficient windows, you may be surprised to find prices that are all over the map. The price of energy saving windows can fluctuate a great deal based on their size and shape of the window as well as its various energy efficient properties. There are many different types of windows and even more energy efficient characteristics to be aware of. This can make picking the right window for your situation an overwhelming task to say the least. Thankfully, there are labels that can guide you in your decision making process.
The blue and white Energy Star label is one you have certainly seen if you’ve done any type of shopping for items that possess energy saving properties. In order to be designated an energy Star approved item the window, or any item for that matter must meet a strict set of standards set out by the Department of Energy and the NFRC.
The National Fenestration Rating Council is a nonprofit organization specializing in rating and categorizing windows and doors. Energy Star labels can provide you with reasonable peace of mind when you are on the hunt for energy efficient items for your home. However, the NFRC gives you an even more detailed picture when it comes to energy saving performance.
Deciphering the Labels
U-Factor – The U factor tells you how well a window is insulated. The scale ranges from .20 to 1.20. The lower the number the better insulated the window will be. For the Midwest a rating of 0.4 or less is the standard recommendation.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – This rating indicates how much solar radiation or heat is going to pass through the window and make it into your home. The lower the number, the more heat will be kept out. The values for SHGC range from 0 to 1. For the Midwest, an SHGC rating of .4 or lower is what you should be looking for.
Visible Transmittance (VT) – VT rating works exactly as its name would imply. The lower the VT rating the less ambient light will make its way through the window and into your home. Windows with a lower VT score will make the room dimmer, and windows with a higher score will allow for more outside light to fill the room.
Air Leakage – This is another one that works exactly as it sounds. It’s a measure of how airtight the window frame will be seated in the wall. And therefore, how much air will pass through the window. .0 .3 is the standard for current building codes.
Condensation Resilience – Condensation resilience is a measure of how much condensation will accumulate on the exterior surface of the window. Most windows that receive the energy star designation are already fairly resilient to condensation.
A Local Contractor You Can Trust
By now, you know getting the right energy saving windows isn’t as simple as going to the local hardware store, browsing for a few minutes, and making your selection. There is a lot that must be considered. However, the most important factor is to choose a reputable contractor. Even the best and most energy-efficient windows on the market won’t get the job done if they’re not installed properly or if they are not the best choice for your needs or situation.
At Penny Window we believe quality windows don’t need to break the bank. We offer superior windows and outstanding service at prices that will fit any budget. Were also proud to say we’ve been a part of the St. Louis community since 1953. We’ve been helping our friends and neighbors improve their homes and lives for over 60 years.
If you’re in the market for energy efficient windows, and you want to work with a local contractor who has roots right here in St. Louis, give us a call for a free estimate today.