Energy efficiency has become a top priority for homeowners, architects, and builders alike. One critical aspect of creating an energy-efficient home is selecting the right windows and doors. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything there is to know about energy-efficient windows, from what they are, and how they work, to choosing the perfect type for your needs.
What Exactly are Energy Efficient Windows?
Energy-efficient windows, also known as high-performance windows, are specially designed to minimise heat transfer between the interior and exterior of your home. They help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. They are composed of various components, most importantly, the glass, frame, and sealing, all of which work together to achieve optimal energy efficiency performance.
The type of glass used in a window is a critical factor in determining its energy efficiency. Different windows offer varying degrees of energy efficiency. Single-glazed windows are considered the baseline window, while also being the least efficient. Double-glazed windows and triple-glazed windows offer significantly better heat transfer resistance. Additionally, some types of glass feature a low-emissivity (Low-E) coating, which helps minimise energy loss by preventing heat loss in the winter and preventing unwanted heat gain in the summer.
The window frame material also plays a significant role in energy efficiency. The most common frame materials are; timber, aluminium, and uPVC. Timber and uPVC frames are considered the best insulators, with aluminium frames being slightly less efficient due to their high thermal conductivity. However, aluminium frames can be improved with thermal breaks, which are insulating materials designed to separate the interior and exterior parts of the frame.
Proper sealing is crucial for energy-efficient windows, which includes weatherstripping and flashing around the window’s edges and joints. This helps prevent air leaks and minimises heat transfer through the window system.
How do Energy-Efficient Windows Work?
Energy-efficient windows work by minimising heat transfer in three primary ways:
Conduction: The glass, frame, and sealing materials reduce the rate at which heat is conducted through the window.
Convection: The air or gas fils between the glass panes reduces heat transfer through convection currents.
Radiation: Low-e coatings reflect infrared radiation, helping to maintain the desired temperature inside your home.
These properties work together to create a barrier between your home’s interior and the outdoor environment, reducing energy consumption and heat flow.
Choosing the Right Energy-Efficient Windows for Your Home
When selecting energy-efficient windows, it is essential to consider factors such as climate, orientation, and building design. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:
Your home’s location and climate play a significant role in determining the best type of energy-efficient windows. In colder climates, double glazed windows are recommended to minimise heat loss, while in warmer climates, windows with low-E coatings and a lower solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) are ideal to reduce heat gain.
Orientation and Building Design
The orientation of your home and its windows can significantly impact energy efficiency.
North-facing windows in Australia, for example, allow for passive solar heating during winter months. In this case, windows with a high SHGC and Low-E coating are ideal.
East and west-facing windows, on the other hand, are exposed to direct sunlight during the morning and afternoon, increasing heat gain. Windows with a lower SHGC and good shading solutions can help minimise this effect.
Additionally, your home’s design, such as the size and number of windows, can also influence your choice of energy-efficient windows. For example, homes with larger window areas might benefit from double glazing to combat heat transfer.
Energy Rating Labels
When selecting energy-efficient windows, it is essential to look for energy rating labels. The Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) provides an easy-to-understand rating system for windows. WERS rates windows on their heating and cooling performance, providing a star rating for each. The more stars a window has, the more energy efficient it is.
Benefits of Energy-Efficient Windows
Installing energy-efficient windows in your home offers numerous benefits, including:
Reduced energy bills:
By minimising heat transfer, energy-efficient windows can lower the need for artificial heating and air conditioning, leading to significant savings on energy bills.
Energy-efficient windows help maintain a consistent indoor temperature, making your home more comfortable throughout the year.
Double glazing offers excellent sound insulation, reducing outside noise for a quieter, more peaceful home environment.
Energy-efficient windows are less prone to condensation, which can cause mould growth and damage to window frames.
Increased property value:
Energy-efficient homes are increasingly sought after by buyers in Australia, making them a wise investment for the future.
Proper installation is essential to ensure the energy efficiency and performance of your new windows. A professional installer will take care to seal and insulate your windows correctly, preventing air leaks and heat transfer. This also guarantees that your old windows, frames and glass panes will be disposed of, or recycled, correctly.
Maintenance of Energy-Efficient Windows
Regular cleaning and maintenance are necessary to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your energy-efficient windows. Follow these guidelines for proper care:
- Use a mild detergent and a soft cloth or sponge to clean the glass and frames. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that may damage the surface or Low-E coatings.
- Regularly check the sealing around your windows for signs of wear, damage, or air leaks. Repair or replace as needed to maintain energy efficiency.
Lubricate moving parts:
- Apply a silicone-based lubricant to your windows’ hinges, locks, and other moving parts to ensure smooth operation and prevent wear.
Download WA Custom Glass’ maintenance/care brochure here, for detailed instructions.
Environmental Impact of Energy-Efficient Windows
Energy-efficient windows contribute to reducing the carbon footprint and promoting sustainability. By minimising heat transfer, these windows help lower energy consumption, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels for heating and cooling. This, in turn, leads to decreased greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable future.
Transitioning to Energy-Efficient Windows
Energy-efficient windows are an essential component of an eco-friendly, comfortable, and cost-effective home in Australia. By understanding the different types of glass, frame materials, and sealing techniques, as well as considering climate, orientation, and building design, you can select the perfect windows for your home. Investing in energy-efficient windows not only benefits your wallet and the environment but also improves your overall quality of life.
Ready to take the first step towards a more energy-efficient, comfortable, and sustainable home? The experienced professionals at WA Custom Glass are here to help you make the best choice for your needs. With years of experience and a dedication to quality, we’ll provide the expert advice and guidance you need to select the perfect energy-efficient windows for your home. Contact WA Custom Glass today for a free, no-obligation quote. And start your journey towards a greener, more comfortable living space, today.