Going Green with Energy-Efficient Windows

by Rachel Lyon, Direct from the Designers™’ Assistant Editorial Director

Maximizing energy efficiency in the home can be a serious undertaking. Houses are not closed systems—there is constant exchange between them and their environments. Through doors, windows, ducts, and even the walls and ceilings, air is leaked to the outside, along with a sizable sum of money and a serious amount of wasted resources. This poses a problem for individuals as well as the economy and the environment, so it is in everybody’s best interest to minimize this air movement.

Inefficient windows are a tremendous burden that will cost more to keep than to replace. Since October is Energy Awareness Month, here are some things to consider as you move forward making your home greener with windows that will help keep you comfortable year-round.

These Wood-Ultrex Casement Windows from Integrity® from Marvin® Windows and Doors earned ENERGY STAR's® Most Efficient designation and were the natural choice for this green building project.

Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors Wood-Ultrex Casement

Unmatched Resilience

Making the greenest product depends on many factors including sustainability, eco-friendliness, and quality. A durable product is not only a good investment on your part, but it also prevents waste by keeping itself out of landfills and diminishing the need to manufacture replacements.

Don’t settle for an inferior window just because it looks great in the moment. Integrity® from Marvin® Windows and Doors makes sure that their products are a sound decision for the future, as well. Integrity Windows' patented Ultrex® pultruded fiberglass far outshines traditional windows in terms of strength and durability, in addition to efficiency. With tensile strength and stability many times that of vinyl and wood-vinyl composites, Ultrex® won’t let you down. This material is also much more impact resistant than its competition, so it can stand up against hail and even some wayward flying objects.

The kitchen of this lake house provides an astounding view of the natural surroundings through All Ultrex Casement Windows from Integrity Windows.

Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors All Ultrex Casement

Preventing Leaks

Anybody who has ever lived in an older house knows that changing seasons often mean loud popping sounds coming from around the windows. The source of this noise is the thermal expansion and contraction of the glass, which can also cause windows to experience seal failures.

You can help prevent these leaks by choosing a superior product. Ultrex® expands and contracts at the same rate as glass, so it is less likely to break a seal. It also experiences much less fluctuation than other window materials, reducing the risk even more. If you live in an area with extreme seasons, you will find peace of mind in Integrity Windows' 20-year warranty on glass seals.

Being green doesn’t mean compromising on style. This living room window design incorporates custom Wood-Ultrex Polygon Windows, which are perfect for creating stunning views of nature.

Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors Wood-Ultrex Polygon

Climate Awareness

It stands to reason that there isn’t a single solution to efficiency when there are so many different climates to cater to. In colder places, you would want a lower U-Factor to minimize the rate of heat loss through windows and a higher solar heat gain coefficient to allow natural solar radiation to warm the house. Of course, in a hot climate, a low solar heat gain coefficient will keep air conditioning costs lower by reflecting this heat away instead, ultimately leading to a reduced carbon footprint.

These considerations are why Integrity Windows pays attention to the ENERGY STAR® Climate Zone Map when recommending products. There are thousands of options to help you create the most efficient windows for your exact needs.

This beach house was constructed with IMPACT Windows, which are designed to stand up to coastal weather. By choosing windows built to withstand rough storms and glazing them for energy efficiency, the owners have made a great investment.

Integrity from Marvin Windows and Doors IMPACT windows

Efficiency Options

Aside from hardy window seals, you want to also consider opting for an energy-efficient glass that is right for your environment. Low-Emissivity, or Low E, glazing is an energy-efficient coating that blocks heat transfer and will reduce your heating and cooling costs. The type of glazing you need is determined by your location.

Low E1 glazes are single layer and allow the sun’s heat through while an insulator works to limit heat loss from the inside, so they are perfect for northern zones with harsh winters. Low E2 glass has a double metallic coating that allows radiant heat inside in the winter but reflects it away in the summer. For southern climates where keeping cool is the primary concern, there is Low E3, which employs three layers of silver to really cut down the U-Factor and minimize the solar heat gain coefficient.

You can also optimize efficiency with your choice of insulating gases. Inert gases in between panes of glass slow heat transfer and increase insulation. Integrity Windows products come standard with argon gas. For even more insulation, you can also choose tripane windows instead of the standard dual panes.

As you shop for windows for your home, keep in mind that just about everything is customizable and you don't have to sacrifice style for the sake of energy efficiency! Check out this Energy Data Tool to get the specifics for your perfect window configuration, and be sure to ask your local Integrity Windows dealer for help optimizing efficiency for your situation.

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