If you are considering ways to make your condo or house more attractive, whether for your own sake or to appeal to potential buyers, new windows are a great way to make a huge impact. On one hand, they are expensive – this is not a budget or DIY construction project by any means. On the other hand, the benefits of energy-efficient windows are many: lower electric bills, a home that is cooler in the summer and hotter in the winter, peace of mind in the face of storms or other acts of nature. And they’re a big selling point, too. Being able to boast that your house has good-quality new windows is a major bragging point that will resonate with home buyers. There’s a steep learning curve to grasping the particulars of energy-efficient windows, and a lot of unfamiliar terminology. Our goal today is to fill in some of those cracks (see what I did there?) and give you the 411 on energy-efficient windows.
The difference between a regular window and an energy-efficient one is the “low E” (emissivity) coating that blankets the window in nearly invisible metallic oxides on the glass pane, which suppress the radiant heat flow throughout the window. This keeps the cold out and the heat in during wintertime, and the reverse during the heat of summer. Depending on the size of the window you need, these special fixtures can run from $100 – $1000 apiece. But don’t assume that the priciest, sturdiest window is right for you. The grade window your home requires depends on factors like the annual temperature and exposure to extreme weather. Philadelphia gets pretty darn cold in the winter, so that plays a role. On the other hand, we aren’t dealing with extreme heat and a higher possibility of hurricanes and tropical storms, like Florida. So a middle-of-the-road window may suit you just fine.
Buying new windows is fraught with all kinds of new terminology, and not understanding the lingo can get in the way of you finding the window that truly fits your needs. The following is a brief glossary of common terms in energy-efficient window shopping.
If you aren’t trying to create a selling point for potential buyers and are simply interested in increasing your home’s energy efficiency, there are makeshift fixes that will make the situation better than it was before. For example, you can have a low-E coating applied to your current windows, or look into the possibility of insulated window treatments, like curtains and/or natural blinds. These are not long-term solutions, but if you have old, leaky windows, every little bit of cure works.