Windows 101: Choosing Midwestern Energy-Efficient Windows

The average lifespan of windows is 15 to 20 years. If your windows are older than 15 years, you may want to consider getting new energy-efficient windows. That’s because worn-out windows are prone to air leaks that can increase your heating and cooling costs. According to the Department of Energy, heat gain and loss through windows account for 25 to 30% of residential heating and cooling costs. 

Windows 101: Choosing Midwestern Energy-Efficient Windows

Keep in mind that not all windows have the same level of energy efficiency. To help you find the right one for your home, Renewal by Andersen  a FAQ on energy-efficient windows: 

What Is Insulated Glass?

An insulated glass unit is made of two glass panes. The space between the panes is filled with either argon or krypton, two inert gases that prevent heat transfer. The gases are also odorless and non-toxic, so you shouldn’t worry about any leakages. 

How Can You Tell If Argon or Krypton Is Leaking Out of Your Windows?

The seal around the edges of the glass panes is responsible for keeping the gas inside the window panes. But over time, the seal will weaken, creating gaps through which argon and krypton can leak out and moisture can infiltrate your windows. When moisture enters the space between the window panes, it fogs up the glass. 

What Are the Factors that Can Damage Insulated Windows? 

Aside from age, what are the other factors that can damage your windows? 

  • Mold – Condensation may seem harmless at first, but it creates a damp environment that’s the perfect breeding ground for mold, which can in turn damage the window sealing. 
  • Faulty installation – Installation errors can damage your windows’ glass sealing, causing argon and krypton to leak out. That’s why you should always vet a contractor before hiring them. As part of our Signature Service, Renewal by Andersen has complete oversight of the window manufacturing and installation process, from the drafting of the designs of your specialty windows right down to its installation in your home.  
  • Extreme temperatures – Certain window frame materials expand and contract when exposed to high and low temperatures. Any movement in the window frame may damage the window sealing. That’s why it’s important to choose a frame material that can handle the Midwestern climate. If you’re looking for windows that are tough enough to handle the local climate, Fibrex® specialty windows are a smart choice. Fibrex is an exclusive wood-fiber-and-thermoplastic polymer with excellent insulative properties and resistance to extreme temperatures.  

Can Insulated Glass Units Be Repaired?

Foggy glass panes are a sign you need new windows. But wouldn’t it be more affordable to have your window repaired instead? A window replacement is more cost-effective than window repairs because the gas that leaked out of your windows can’t easily be replaced. You can have the insulated glass unit defogged to remove lingering moisture and the glass sealing fixed. However, there’s no cost-effective way of refilling damaged insulated windows with argon and krypton. That’s why a window replacement is the most cost-effective choice. 

What Does the ENERGY STAR® Label Mean? 

Given that not all windows have the same energy efficiency, how can you tell which ones are the best energy performers? By looking for the ENERGY STAR® label. Only windows that have met the EPA’s stringent performance standards have this label. 

What Do NFRC Ratings Mean?  

To further narrow down your options, check the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) ratings beneath the ENERGY STAR label. 

The two most important ratings on the label are the U-factor (which indicates how well a window can prevent heat transfer) and the solar heat gain coefficient (which gives you an idea of the amount of sunlight that can pass through the window). The higher a window’s U-factor is, the better its insulative capabilities. The lower a window’s SHGC, the less heat that can pass through its glass panes. 

Here’s a tip: if you’re installing bay windows or other windows with wide glass panes, we recommend choosing one with a low SHGC. Natural sunlight can help improve your mood and brighten your interior, but it can be too much of a good thing. Choosing a window with a low SHGC will prevent your interior from becoming uncomfortably warm. 

One more thing: aside from energy efficiency, you also need to take into account the window’s style and your exterior. The design of your new energy-efficient windows should complement the rest of your exterior. To learn more about your design options, consult a window contractor. 

Renewal by Andersen of Cincinnati offers a wide range of premium windows, including sliding and bay windows. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 866-609-5033 or fill out this form. We serve homeowners in Mason, Sharonville and Loveland as well as the surrounding Ohio communities. 

Previous Article5 Ways to Make Your Patio or Deck Stunning this Summer Next ArticleHow to Make the Most of Daylighting Using Windows