The Three Elements Of Energy-Efficient Replacement Windows

Construction & Contractors Blog

If the windows in your home have seen better days, you're probably thinking of replacing them with more modern, energy-efficient windows. Choosing energy-efficient windows is not as straightforward as you may think. There are three elements that work together to create a window that resists heat transfer and lowers your energy bills.

Glass Characteristics

Plain glass allows a lot of heat to travel through it quite readily. Thankfully, there are a number of options window manufacturers have when it comes to reducing this heat transfer. One is using two or three panes of glass instead of just one. The layer of gas trapped between the glass panes acts as an insulator, slowing heat transfer. In most climates, double-pane windows are sufficient, but if you live in an area where winter temperatures are brutal or the summers are scorching hot, triple-pane windows will reduce your energy bills even further.

Sash Material

It's also important to consider the material from which the window sash (the material directly surrounding the glass) is made. Wood was common years ago, but it is problematic because as it ages, it separates from the glass, which creates holes through which air can leak. Aluminum replacement windows may be attractive, but aluminum, like most metals, is good at transferring heat -- making it a poor choice for energy efficiency. For the most energy-efficient windows, it's usually best to go with vinyl sashes. Vinyl will stay closely bonded to the glass even as it ages, and it resists heat transfer.


Even the best windows can be leaky and inefficient if they're not installed properly. Installing them unevenly can cause the sashes to slide down within the frames, causing leaks. Window installation is a difficult task that requires careful measuring and precise cutting of the materials. Unless you have extensive training in this regard, it's usually best to leave installation to the professionals. Many window companies include installation costs in their estimates for this reason, and they may not offer the full warranty on their windows unless you have them professionally installed.

If you do decide to forgo professional installation and install replacement windows yourself, don't skimp on tools or materials. It's worth paying a few dollars more for the right blades and saws now rather than paying for new windows again in five years due to a botched job. Make sure you also have friends or family members around to help, as holding a heavy window in place during installation may require several sets of hands.

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22 June 2016

Those Cold, January Nights

When I was in college, I lived in an old house just south of the university campus with five other girls. When we came back from Christmas break, the heater was broken. The beginning of January was the coldest time of the year, and because it was the weekend, the heating company couldn't come fix it for a few days. My roommates and I pulled our mattresses into the front room and slept all together to keep warm. Two weeks later, our heater broke again! That time we ended up getting a completely new furnace. Needless to say, we got to be good friends with the heating contractor that month, and it was a good experience that led to the creation of this blog.