In times of rising costs for home heating and cooling and the need to reduce energy consumption, replacement windows are a very smart home improvement investment. Not only will replacement windows make your home more energy efficient, they will reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 50%. This energy efficiency will also reduce the amount of energy you use and reduce your demand for petroleum products (electricity, natural gas, heating oil, etc.). The investment in replacement windows will also increase the value of your home.
Heat is transferred through solid surfaces from the warmer side to the colder side through a process called "conduction". Metal is a good conductors of heat. This means that your windows themselves could be causing your heating and cooling bills to be higher than the cost would be with new insulated windows. In addition, any cracks or gaps around your windows and window frames allow heated or cooled air to escape from the house to the outside and vice versa. Sealing around windows and doors and installing adequate insulation around them is the first step in improving the energy efficiency of your home. New windows, however, will probably result in a far greater savings.
The best insulators (preventing conduction) are wood, vinyl, fiberglass and foam. Metals, such as aluminum, are the worst insulators. Double-paned windows have a space between the two panes of glass. This space provides insulation by allowing air in the space to absorb some of the heat and some of the cooler air to create a mid-range temperature inside the window. If the space between the two panes is filled with a gas, it becomes even more effective in insulating your home. Argon gas in the space between the panes will make your windows twice as effective in insulating your home as simple single-paned windows. If the gas used is Krypton, the effect of the insulating space between panes is 50% more effective than the Argon.
The next alternative is to choose triple-paned windows. This creates two neutralizing spaces in the window, and better insulates your home. With Argon gas in both of the spaces between panes, the triple-paned window will be 50% more effective than the double-paned window filled with Argon. A triple-paned window with Krypton gas in both spaces between panes will be 2.5 times more effective in insulating the home than a double-paned window filled with Argon. The amount of space allowed between the panes is also a factor in the conductivity of the windows.
These energy-efficient windows are easy to identify. They all carry the "EnergyStar" logo, indicating that they meet federal guidelines for efficiency. Talk with your window dealer about the amount of insulation you need in various parts of your home, and you can choose the right window for your specific needs.