Window Technologies Have Advanced Over The Years
In the 1950s and 1960s powerful mechanical heating and cooling systems became widely available and energy was very inexpensive. Concerns about natural environment were distant. Homes were not designed to save energy and they needed large loads of energy to keep people comfortable year round. Inefficient single-pane windows were the weakest link in homes' energy envelopes. Energy was moving freely in and out of the home.
In the 1970s energy costs increased rapidly and window manufacturers developed energy efficient windows. But his new technology was not catching on for a long time for one reason. The cost of energy efficient windows greatly exceeded the return on investment.
Today, with the skyrocketing energy costs, raised concerns about the environment, and changing lifestyles, the role of the windows has a new meaning. New window technologies are now available to address these issues. Finally, the cost of using energy efficient windows is getting in line with the return on investment.
2015 Energy Star Requirements
Window technologies underwent major revolution in the 1970s. And energy efficient windows will have to be even more energy efficient in not so distant future.
Currently, the requirements for windows to meet Energy Star criteria are U-Value of .30 or less and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SGHC) of any. However, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revised those requirements and had made them even more stringent. In Northern Climate Zone new requirements will be U-Value of 0.27 and any SGHC. What does it mean for the average consumer? It means that now the Energy Star windows will have to perform even better energy wise. Consequently, this translates into more energy savings for the consumer and lower utility bills. These changes will take effect on January 1, 2015.
Why Are These Changes Being Implemented?
Triple-Pane High Performance Windows Meet R-5 Ratings
The Department of Energy is promoting windows with R-Value 5. This program was initiated to promote windows with U-Values lower than 0.22 (R5). Currently, ENERGY STAR windows only have U-Value 0.30 (R-3). According to government research, lowering the U-Value from 0.30 (R3 window) to U-Value 0.22 (R5 window) may reduce the average heat loss through the windows by 40% and save even more money on energy bills.
“Last year I installed seven R-5 windows in my house in OH. I also buttoned up my insulation and stopped most air leaks as best as practical. My gas budget had been $220.00 per month for a couple of years. After 1 ½ years it is now $77.00. We did not lower our thermostat. I am upgrading to more attic insulation and a newer high-efficiency furnace soon. I am interested in seeing what happens.” Ric W.
No double pane window would currently have R-5 (U-Value of 0.20) rating. However, most triple-pane windows with argon or krypton gas fills meet or exceed R-5 ratings.
VINYL – Preferred Material For Window Frames
Vinyl frame with its excellent thermal properties, low maintenance and affordability continues to gain market share and becomes the most preferred window frame for energy efficient windows of the future. According to AAMA/WDMA report in the residential market: wood's share has shrunk from 28.9% in 2004 to 21.5% in 2010, aluminum's share has dropped from 6.7% in 2004 to 3.7% in 2010, while vinyl's has widened from 60% in 2009 to 70% in 2010.
Windows are among the most important factors as far as your comfort is concerned. Windows are supposed to stop: moisture, heat, cold, and sound from moving freely in and out of our homes. When you compare different window options consider how much energy the new windows will save you. Do you live in the noisy neighborhood? Do your rooms gain a lot of heat from the sun in the summer? Whether you need windows for the existing home, or you are building a new home, use the holistic approach.
“Holism is the idea that natural systems and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts. This often includes the view that systems function as wholes and that their functioning cannot be fully understood solely in terms of their component parts”. Source: Wikipedia
Today, with the wide availability of energy efficient windows and deeper understanding of your needs, you can choose windows that will have a faster return on investment, save you the most on energy, and make your home comfortable year round.
Think about these factors when choosing your windows:
High Performance Windows – Energy Efficiency and Comfort
Windows can make or break the energy envelope of your home. Now, windows are and will continue to be the focus of all energy efficient homes. Think about what direction the market and the national energy policy are headed. Think about the future of your investment. The energy ratings are more stringent than ever before. With the EPA’s more stringent 2015 requirements for Energy Star windows, the pace of change is only going to accelerate.
When you make this type of investment, it seems logical to choose windows that will help you realize faster return on investment and keep you more comfortable in your home while meeting new Energy Star or R-5 Window Program Requirements.