Winter will be here before you know it. Having new windows put in can help keep your home cozy and warm all season long, even in Minnesota’s bitterly cold weather. Keep the following tips in mind for choosing the best replacement windows for your home.
What kinds of properties should energy-efficient windows have for this type of climate? When looking for windows, there are a few properties and ratings to consider. These properties can help you maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home throughout winter.
You can find ratings for these properties on energy performance labels. The National Fenestration Rating Council provides these ratings. In addition, you should check for the Energy Star label.
- U-factor: This refers to the rate of non-solar heat flow through windows. Windows with lower U-factor ratings offer more energy efficiency. Minnesota homeowners should look for a U-factor of 0.25 or less.
- Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC): This refers to the amount of solar heat coming through your windows. Windows with higher SHGC ratings are able to gather more heat from the sun during winter. This can help boost warmth inside your home, so you don’t have to run your furnace as often. Look for SHGC ratings between 0.35 to 0.60.
- Air leakage: This refers to the amount of air which can end up leaking around windows. Higher air leakage allows more heated air from inside to escape while also letting in more cold air from outside. Low air leakage does a better job at keeping heated air indoors and blocking outdoor air from getting in. Look for air leakage ratings of 0.30 or less.
The type of material you choose for your window frames affects energy efficiency. In general, vinyl, wood, composite, and fiberglass frames offer more energy efficiency than aluminum or metal frames. Aluminum and metal frames allow high amounts of heat loss, which forces your furnace to work harder at keeping your home warm in winter.
Choose window frames which offer a low U-factor. This provides better resistance to heat loss compared to higher U-factor ratings. With a low U-factor, more heated air should stay inside your home in winter.
The glazing on your new windows affects the amount of energy efficiency they provide as well. Insulated glazing is sometimes used on windows with more than one pane of glass. This glazing can help bring the U-factor down for improved efficiency in cold climates, although it can lead to lower SHGC ratings as well.
Low-emissivity (low-e) coating on windows results in a lower U-factor, which gives you higher energy efficiency. This type of coating helps control the amount of heat which goes through insulated glazing on windows. Low-e coatings on your new windows might cost more, but they can significantly lower energy loss in your home.
Gas Fills and Spacers
Older windows are usually ones with a single pane. This type of window doesn’t offer much in terms of energy efficiency. Newer windows typically come in double pane options. These double pane windows have gas fills that provide insulation and lower heat transfer overall.
Different gases are available for these gas fills. Argon and krypton are among the more common options to consider. Krypton offers more energy efficiency compared to argon.
Spacers are components which hold panes of glass apart in double pane windows. Many spacers are made of aluminum, which can reduce the window’s overall energy efficiency. However, a thermal break installed with these spacers helps minimize the issue. Other options include stainless steel, silicone foam and butyl tape with metal.
The way your new windows open and close affects the amount of air leakage they allow. Single and double sliding windows and single and double hung windows tend to have higher air leakage. This can result in more drafts in winter, reducing your home’s energy efficiency overall.
Hinged windows, such as awning, hopper and casement windows, typically have lower air leakage. These windows tend to stay sealed better than hung or sliding windows. This lower air leakage helps keep warm air inside and cold air outside during winter.
Keep in mind your home might need different types of windows in different areas or rooms for better efficiency. This depends on factors such as the direction they face and how much sun they get.
Having energy-efficient windows won’t help much if they’re not properly installed. No matter which types of windows you choose, you’ll need to make sure you find a reliable contractor to handle the installation process. With the right installation, your new windows can keep your home toasty during winter year after year.
If you’re planning on replacing the windows in your Minneapolis home, contact Midwest Exteriors Plus Inc. for more information about our services.