A Guide to Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
An increasing number of homeowners are looking at ways of becoming energy efficient. For most, the choice to go green is motivated by the ever increasing energy bills while for others it is the unstable supply of electricity by the authorities. Whatever the reason, there seem to be a common need for most homeowners to lower the reliance on the power grid. The challenge for most people is knowing where to start.
So what exactly does is it mean to be energy efficient?
Basically, it means getting a lot more energy for the same amount of spending done in the past. It’s an ability to literally get “a bang for your bucks”. If you can reduce the spending on energy bills yet still use the same amount of energy as in the past, then you can claim to have an energy efficient home.
If one considers that an average house loses up to 30% of heating and cooling energy through it’s windows and doors then it becomes clear that windows and doors are the first if not the most important items that requires close scrutiny.
Finding Cheaper Energy Efficient Ways
When one looks at the available options of reducing electrical consumption it becomes very clear that cost considerations are a big barrier for most people to take the leap. It is for this reason that much more cost effective ways should be explored to reduce the consumption of energy. One such option is to make doors and windows more energy efficient.
If you already own a home you will find that there are good incentives in making some cheaper modifications to your existing doors and windows in trying to become more energy efficient. New and prospective homeowners that are in a position to build their own homes are in better position to opt for the installation of energy efficient doors and windows. Aside from reducing energy consumption, investing on such doors and windows is also a smart choice since it also lowers the living expenses.
Selecting the Right Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
Energy efficient doors and windows come in various models, designs and materials these days. The reason why they are considered as energy efficient is because of the features which improve room insulation from the elements yet assist in providing natural ventilation into the house. The features may be simple but the benefits which can be gained from using such doors and windows are enormous.
Regulating Heat Loss and Heat Gain in Buildings
Windows and doors which are considered to be energy efficient is they properly regulate the amount of heat loss and heat gain. For example, during the winter months, it takes an increased amount of energy for a heater (or even a good old fireplace) to keep the entire home warm. Unfortunately, if doors and windows are not properly insulated and sealed, the warmth just escapes and the heating costs escalates.
So what are the factors that should be looked at when considering energy efficiency for your windows and doors?
The following factors have proved to be the most important:
Proper insulation has to be considered for doors and windows. To increase the efficiency of thermal flywheel, it is best to have them placed on the outer portion. After installation of the insulation, it is important to check for gaps too. Even small gaps affects the maintenance of room temperature.
Type of Glass
The type of glass used in doors and windows is important too. There is glazing that is capable of bouncing off sunlight. This is important because sunlight can warm up a room and can affect the air-conditioning system inside. You can also find glazing (ie. Low-E or Lower emissivity) that can retain the solar heat towards the inside or outside of a home.
There are different types of windows and door glazing to choose from and some are sophisticated enough to match the needs of various rooms and buildings. Glazing with visible light transmittance allows sufficient light to enter the room. Hence, when the sun is up, there is no need to use electricity to provide room lighting. The streaming sunlight will serve as natural light. Glazing that has solar heat gain coefficient feature reduces the amount of heat which can enter through the windows because of sunlight.
This means that minimal amount of energy is needed to maintain the right room temperature. The U-value of the glass which is often achieved by using double glazing minimizes heat loss and heat gain in a room.
Ventilation is another concern when installing windows and doors. For some climates, to provide natural ventilation within a room or building, the doors and windows should have an opening area which is 5% or higher compared to the total floor area. Windows which can be opened on both the top and bottom level are very efficient too. Opening the top panes would let the hot air out. Keep the lower level open draws in cool air. This natural regulation of temperature within a room is called the stack effect.
Type of Window Material (U-Value)
To make windows even more energy efficient, it is best to put windows that have opening control. That way, the opening can be adjusted depending on the current temperature of the room. Automatic doors will also help a lot when preserving room temperature because it limits the amount of time that the door remains open.
The Placement of Windows and Doors
Right measurements will make a lot of difference as to how the air circulates around the room. To provide sufficient ventilation within a room, it is important to put careful thought about the placement of doors and windows so as to enable cross ventilation.