Windows and doors (windows in particular) provide our homes with natural daylight, warmth, views and ventilation, but they are often a major source of heat loss and can also impact a home’s energy efficiency in a negative manner because of faulty or inefficient design. Besides, homeowners often use curtains or blinds to cover them for various reasons. Installation of Energy Star qualified windows and doors enables the occupants of a home in which they are installed to reap significant benefits in more ways than one.
What is ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The label, ENERGY STAR is the trusted symbol (government-backed) for energy efficiency and protection of the environment through the use of energy-efficient products and practices. Its main intent was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy and to encourage the use of energy -efficient products that help save on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.
Windows with this label have been independently tested and certified to be among the most energy-efficient on the market. They generally have advanced features like invisible glass coatings, vacuum-sealed spaces filled with inert gas between the panes, better framing materials, weather stripping and warm edge spacers. These help to reduce undesirable loss or gain in heat resulting in lower energy consumption and lower energy bills. It has been estimated that a household which replaces old windows with Energy Star qualified windows can lower its energy bills by between 7 to 15 percent. Buyers of new homes with Energy Star qualified doors and windows can save even more on energy bills as the savings tend to be greater for new homes because they are typically larger and have more windows and doors than older homes. The estimated savings, however, will vary depending on current heating and cooling costs in the region in which the home is situated.
Installing windows with this label is also beneficial for the environment because lowering the use of energy helps reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants and air pollutants at the source, thus fulfilling one of the main objectives behind the Energy Star program.
Improved Comfort Levels:
As compared to less efficient windows, these windows are able to keep homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer because they can block 70 percent or more of the solar heat gain in the summer and can reflect radiant heat indoors during the winter thus putting an end to cold drafts and overheated spaces. In winter, the interior glass of these windows stays warmer even when temperatures outside go below freezing point, and in summer they reduce the heat in the home without reducing the light component. They also cut down noise levels from outside the home. In other words, they provide a level of comfort that windows without this label cannot match.
Protection of the Interior of the Home:
Energy Star qualified windows are equipped with special (Low-E) coatings that can reduce fading by nearly 75%. Curtains, wooden flooring, furniture and photographs are liable to fade or get discolored if repeatedly exposed to direct sunlight. These windows act like a sunscreen protecting valuables within the home from harmful ultraviolet rays and that too without noticeably reducing visible light.
During winter, condensation on the interior surface of window frames and pooling of water on the window sills takes place. Over a period of time chronic, condensation can damage the window sills, ruining the paint and causing growth of mold. Energy Star qualified windows with their advanced frames, glass coatings, warm edge spacers and improved technology help to keep the frame and the inner surface of the glass warmer. This reduces the chances of condensation and ensures greater visibility.
So although an Energy Star qualified window or door may cost more than a conventional one which is less efficient, the buyer will, in all probability, gain in the long run because of savings in the energy bills and will also have the added benefits of improved comfort levels and protection of valued possessions, which cannot be measured in monetary terms.