Winter is approaching and the most vulnerable location of energy loss and wasted dollars in your home is drafty windows. It may be time to replace them.

For most people, the first choice is usually whether to get single, double or triple-pane windows. Single pane windows offer little or no energy loss protection. Double and triple-pane obviously provide more protection.

Replacing old windows can increase energy efficiency and save money in two ways:

  • first by placing a coating on the window
  • secondly by using a gas to create an insulation barrier.

Low-E is a coating placed on the glass that reflects radiant heat back into the atmosphere during the summer months, while allowing the sun’s heat to penetrate into the house during the winter months, thus keeping the house warmer when it’s needed most. It also provides UV protection for furniture and carpets.

Some double and triple-pane windows have a layer of gas added between the panes. The gas acts as an insulation barrier and prevents heat loss in the winter and air conditioning loss in the summer.

For the consumer, there are a number of measures that rate windows and decipher the mystery. You should find stickers on the windows that provide numerical information rating the energy efficiency of the glass, the lower the number the better.

Glass is rated by a “U” value and a solar value called SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient). For solar SHGC ratings, look for .35 or below. For U value, look for .30 or less.

Lastly, don’t forget insulation. If you’re replacing the usual double hung window that used pulleys and ropes to raise and lower the window, make sure that insulation will be stuffed in the pockets where the ropes were used – otherwise, the air will just channel around the window.

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