How to Choose Energy Efficient Windows

Apart from the fact that they let in natural light and fresh air, provide a handy escape route in an emergency and let us enjoy the outdoors from inside the house, windows are something of a drain when it comes to energy efficiency. When compared to a well-insulated sidewall, windows are not as efficient in keeping heated air in cold climates nor keeping out the heat of the sun in hot climates. Thankfully, window technologies are improving, and it pays to seek out the most energy-efficient products possible.


Why opt for energy-efficient windows

With new studies showing that residential buildings account for about 20 percent of total energy use and carbon dioxide emissions in the country and that heating and cooling accounts for the largest energy use in single-family homes. Consumers understand that upgrading their windows can have a huge effect on their home’s operational efficiency. With the right windows and long-term care, you can cut back on air leakage, reduce unnecessary heating and cooling and lower utility bills. That is why selecting opting for energy-efficient windows is essential.


Tips for choosing energy-efficient windows

Understand the present and future consequences of low-grade windows

Low-grade windows tend to allow air to escape through small cracks, missing or improperly installed sealing or inefficient glass. When the air escapes, a home’s heating or cooling system has to work harder to maintain the temperature you want. That means residents are paying higher electric bills and having a negative effect on the environment.

Research the various types of windows and their performance attributes

Energy-efficient windows are available in a variety of materials, styles, and packages. To get the most energy efficiency and durability for your money’s worth. When choosing a window, the primary consideration is its function. Each window type serves a different purpose and there are many different windows to choose from:

  • Double- or single-hung windows: These windows have an upper and lower sash, or movable portion of the window. A single-hung window can only be opened by sliding the bottom sash up, while both sashes can move up or down.
  • Casement windows: A hinged window that opens from the side. When closed and locked, casement windows can make a very effective seal for improved energy performance.
  • Sliding windows: A window with sashes that open by sliding horizontally. Sliding windows can offer clear views and ample ventilation, but they cannot be sealed as tightly as casements.
  • Awning windows: A hinged window that opens from the bottom.
  • Hopper windows: A hinged window that opens from the top.

Hinged windows such as casement, awning and hopper windows may not offer the look or functionality you want. They require more space around the window to allow them to open inward and may not open wide enough to welcome a breeze.

Frames – how to choose the right materials for your project

Window frames can be constructed from a variety of materials. Different window frame materials provide different levels of thermal resistance, causing a varying influence on energy efficiency. For example, fibreglass windows, whether they’re made completely of fibreglass or clad, have superior insulation properties when compared to alternative materials. Vinyl, due to its low heat transfer properties, is usually more energy-saving materials than aluminum. Wood frames are excellent insulators, conducting a low amount of heat or cold into your home.

Look for the EnergyStar symbol

ENERGY STAR products are independently certified. Each partner must go through rigorous testing to ensure their products save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. ENERGY STAR label is a sign that the product can save you money on your energy bills, which can also help protect our environment. Windows that carry the ENERGY STAR logo are designed to meet tough thermal and solar requirements where you live. Improved energy performance helps you enjoy a more comfortable home year-round.

Know your ratings

The rate of heat loss from a building is indicated in terms of the U-factor (U-value). U-Factor ratings for windows generally fall between 0.20 and 1.20. The lower the U-value, the greater a window’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value. (The window’s insulating value is indicated by the R-value, which is the inverse of the U-value.)

Select energy-efficient glazing packages

For highly energy-efficient homes, considering glazing and gas options is crucial. Low E glass is a must in order to maximize the energy efficiency of a window. Tinted and clear glazings (or coatings) help prevent the transfer of heat, cold and sunlight into the home. A gas-filled insulating unit, where the invisible gas is hermetically sealed in the window unit using spacer systems, is also an excellent barrier. The more barriers that separate the inside of a house from the exterior, the stronger the protection from heat gain or loss.

Energy-efficiency is synonymous with durability and quality

Performance, comfort and overall value aren’t just about initial energy-efficiency. If windows aren’t strong and durable, that performance won’t last. Windows can even become a nuisance. Choosing windows that will save energy, stand up to the weather and perform like new for decades might seem like a lofty goal, but today’s technologies put it well within reach.

Work with professionals

Professional installation will ensure your windows will perform their best as “a great window with a bad installation is a bad window”. Wall thickness and the exterior material of your house play a role in what type of window fits best. While price will certainly play a role in your final decision, also factor in whether the product offers the level of energy efficiency you want and meets other needs.


Buying windows is a big decision, and there are many things to consider. Energy efficiency is just one of the factors that will contribute to your choice.