One of the largest contributors to a home’s energy efficiency is its windows. Energy-efficient windows can lower your energy costs and increase your home’s comfort while reducing your carbon footprint and increasing your home’s value.
For example, replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR windows can save between 1,106 to 6,072 pounds of carbon dioxide a year from entering the atmosphere. According to ENERGY STAR that is equivalent to saving 51 to 310 gallons of gasoline. Plus, replacing old windows with new energy-efficient designs can return more than 78 percent of the project cost back to you upon resale, the National Association of Realtors reports.
So what factors should you consider when shopping for energy-efficient, environmentally friendly windows?
The ENERGY STAR logo – You’ve probably seen the blue ENERGY STAR logo on a variety of products including your washer or refrigerator. That logo designates products that meet strict energy-saving guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Windows and doors with an ENERGY STAR designation lower household energy use which saves you money and helps protect the environment.
Low U-values – In addition to ENERGY STAR ratings, look for windows and doors with low U-values, which means they resist the transfer of heat – the lower the U-value, the better. Double-pane insulating glass windows, with a gas-filled space between the glass, can insulate more than two times better than single-pane windows based on a comparison of U-values.
Recycled materials – Evaluate the amount of recycled content used, either post-consumer or post-industrial. The roll formed aluminum cladding, the metal exterior that protects the wood from the weather, on Pella’s wood windows and doors is made from more than 95 percent recycled aluminum material.
Product material – Wood windows utilize renewable resources. When shopping for wood, look for certified wood. There are several wood certification systems available, the most well-known being the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Most of the well-known certification systems are developed and used with the same key purpose in mind; to practice sustainable forestry.
Your location – Windows allow for natural daylighting, which reduces or eliminates the need for artificial lighting saving on your electrical use. Plus, your climate or area within the United States has specific requirements to qualify for ENERGY STAR certification.