Our homes use a lot of energy, mostly from nonrenewable resources, when it comes to heating and cooling. Home heat and air conditioning are some of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions responsible for global warming and climate change. As we fight carbon emissions, it’s imperative that we do everything possible to make our homes more energy efficient. One way to cut down your energy costs and improve your efficiency is by doing something about drafty, energy inefficient windows.
Your home may be full of attractive, traditional large windows. They might be beautiful, but unfortunately they may be causing you to lose all the money you’re saving from your energy efficient appliances, good travel habits, and good eating habits.
The wrong windows can be a big source of heat transfer, causing warmth to leave your home in the winter and enter in the summer. Glass is an excellent conductor. It moves energy quickly from one side of the window to the other, rather than keeping heat on the side of the window we’d prefer it to be on. Gaps around the window make the problem worse by allowing warm or cool air to escape directly.
So what can be done? Here are some ideas.
Seal gaps around windows. This is by far the cheapest fix you can make, and it can make a big difference in reducing drafts.
Use blinds and drapes with insulating linings. Also, use retractable styles that allow you to shade your windows when needed, and open them to sunlight when you want warmth and light. It does take a regular commitment to open and close your blinds and drapes so as to get the most benefit from them, but doing so with insulated window covers arde another relatively inexpensive way to save money and stop unwanted energy transfer.
Change your windows. Window replacement is not cheap, and can run $1000 or more per window. Over the long run, however, replacing old energy inefficient windows could save you thousands of dollars in energy bills in less time than you think. If you do go this route, here’s what to look for:
- “Low-E” windows, which have special coatings to reflect infrared light and therefore keep heat inside in winter and outside in summer. They also reflect ultraviolet light away, which lowers skin cancer risk as prevents interior furnishings from fading.
- Gas-filled windows, which are double paned and contain non-toxic gases that provide better insulation.
- Multiple panes–two or more panes will inherently provide better insulation even without gas.
- Better frames made out of wood composites, vinyl, or fiberglass that provide better insulation than cheaper alternatives.
If you look for Energy Star certified windows you’ll probably find ones that meet most or all of these criteria.
If you’d like to increase your home’s efficiency and spend less on heating and cooling, more efficient windows choices are the answer. If you seal all cracks, install appropriate blinds and curtains, and at least replace your oldest, most inefficient windows with higher efficiency models, you’ll soon notice a difference in your energy bills and indoor air temperature.