Efficient Windows, Doors, & Skylights by Energy Star

Windows and doors are the portals to your home envelope, and bridge the gap between your conditioned and unconditioned space. When closed, they should form as tight a seal as possible in order to retain inside temperatures. Since window and door technology has come a long way in the last few decades, older homes would see the greatest benefits from the replacement of these out-of-date materials with updated Energy Star efficient construction.

Energy Star Efficient Window Construction

Aside from protecting your home against air exchange, drafts, and heat loss, an Energy Star qualified window or skylight can also protect your furnishings against sun damage. Special coatings can now be applied to glass panes that reflect both infrared and ultraviolet light. These invisible coats of protection trap heat inside during the winter months and reflect heat back toward the outside during the summer. The ultraviolet layers provide the added bonus of protecting furniture surfaces from fading over time, especially for chairs or couches placed near windows that see great amounts of sunlight.

Energy Star rated windows and doors are also generally constructed of better materials. Vinyl and Fiberglass frames greatly reduce heat transfer over more traditional metal or aluminum frames. Wood composities making up the construction of these frames also provide better insulation overall. Another new feature of green building techniques includes the addition of warm edge spacers that keep the glass panes of a window the correct distance apart - further reducing heat flow and preventing condensation. These materials also last longer, so windows, doors and skylights produced with these new technologies are not only more energy efficient, but they will live extended lifetimes when compared against similar products of lesser construction.

Multiple Paned Glass & Gas Fills

Windows and skylights are also sold with two panes (double-panes) of glass, and the benefits of this design are many. By trapping a pocket of air between the two panes of glass, these windows are much better insulated than single-pane construction. Extremely energy efficient products qualified by Energy Star can even have three or more such panes, producing extra air pockets that add to insulation and can even act as sound barriers against outside noise.

Additionally, the air trapped between the glass panes can be of a special type; argon and krypton gasses are generally used here because they insulate better than normal air. These non-toxic gases are both odorless and colorless, and they can add significantly to the overall energy efficiency of the window. Trapped air pockets, especially in multiple paned windows, will help reduce drafts and heat transfer between the inside and outside of a residence. Since much of the energy loss a home experiences is through the panes of exterior windows, the utility savings in heating and cooling will pay big dividends toward these windows over time.

Energy Saving Tips - Energy Star Qualified Windows In a typical home, replacing existing single-paned windows with Energy Star rated double-paned clear glass window technology will save anywhere from $150 to more than $450 in annual utility costs, depending upon your climate.

Energy Star Rated Doors and Door Features

The front door of a home has come a long way since traditional wood construction. New doors of fiberglass and wood-cladding are designed to look stylish while maintaining an inner core of highly-insulating polyurthane foam. Aside from the energy efficient benefits of such construction, this also makes the door lighter and easier to swing - much better on the hinges and doorframe over time. Sturdier construction of doorframes allow for a tighter building envelope to be maintained over the lifetime of the door. Where in the past a wooden door might shrink in the cold weather, these new materials do not. The latest door frames may now include a magnetic strip to seal the door tightly closed and prevent airflow or air leaks around the edges of the door.

For doors that contain window enclosures, new door construction also includes the same benefits as the Energy Star efficient window technology mentioned above. This adds up to significant energy savings in the case where a front door is designed with large or multiple glass panes.

Energy Efficient Skylights and Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDD)

Skylights have become an increasing trend in both new and existing construction, and these portals should be treated in much the same way as windows. Energy Star qualified skylights will retain many of the same features of the new double-paned window design. However, since skylights are mounted to face directly into the sun, Emissive-level and glass coating technologies are of extra importance.

Newer skylights are designed to receive direct sunlight radiant heat in the winter months and reflect unwanted heat energy in the summer. New fiberglass materials and insulating techniques promote a tight seal against airflow, but since heat rises to the roof of a home and seeks to escape that way, creating a good building envelope becomes a lot more important here. Also to be considered is rain. Choose a skylight that channels rain away from the edges to prevent leaks.

Energy Star Efficient Window Construction

Another new technology in skylight design is the invention of Tubular Daylighting Devices. These small portals are manufactured to gather sunlight striking the roof of your home and transmit it downward into the home. The top of a TDD is usually nothing more than a diffusing lens; the concentrated sunlight gathered here is angled downward through a tube and dispersed into the home via another lense mounted in a room's ceiling. This brings daylight throught the tube, usually coated with a reflective inner surface, and into your home.

Such a fantastic green building technique takes full advantage of the environment by bringing sunlight into rooms that normally could not house a skylight. The natural light produced is bright, clean, and most of all free - reducing the need for electric lighting and helping prevent the burning of additional fossil fuels. This environmentally friendly building technique can replace traditional skylights while providing natural sunlight.

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