Get the most out of your windows

Homeowners may open the door to more comfort and less cost when they take a good look at their windows.

Once, buying windows seemed easy — if it had glass and a frame, it must be okay. Today, however, it can be intimidating to look for new windows with all of the energy-efficiency ratings and certifications.

Window technologies have changed dramatically over the years and for the better. Windows can do so much more than they used to, including reduce noise, improve the energy efficiency of your home, help prevent mold and improve your comfort overall.

How do you choose the right windows? To help, Joe Erb, a window expert, answers some of the top window-selection questions on homeowners’ minds.

Q: What is insulating glass?

Erb: Insulating glass is defined by the number of panes in the system. Two or more would be considered insulating. Other components, such as low-e coating, argon gas filling and warm edge spacer systems, contribute to the overall efficiency of the system.

Q: What do all the stickers mean on windows?

Erb: First, it’s important to look for windows that have an Energy Star sticker. It means heating and cooling costs can be drastically cut and the home will be more comfortable. To get Energy Star status, windows must also be National Fenestration Rating Council approved and labeled for U-Factor (the rate of heat loss through the window) and Solar Heat Gain (how well the window blocks heat from the sun).

Q: How much can insulated windows really save me in my energy bills?

Erb: According to the Energy Star Web site, www.energystar.gov, replacing single-paned windows with windows made with insulating glass in a 2,000-square-foot home can save the homeowner as much as hundreds of dollars annually on energy bills.

Q: How can I be sure that my window prevents condensation?

Erb: Condensation, which can lead to mold, is always a possibility if humidity levels are too high. Windows with high-performance glass and framing offer the greatest reduction in condensation.

Q: What is a warm edge spacer system?

Erb: A spacer system refers to the part that separates the panes in an insulated window. The spacer creates a seal that locks in argon gas (an insulator), preventing heat or cold from passing through the window and so reducing condensation. A warm edge spacer provides a warmer edge of glass temperature. Super Spacer from Edgetech I.G. is the world’s only all-foam, no-metal, extreme low-conductive system and provides all of the optimal benefits of warm edge technology.

Q: Should I buy double- or triple-paned windows?

Erb: There is a place for both double- and triple-paned windows. Double-paned windows made with Super Spacer exceed all Energy Star requirements for energy efficiency. Triple-paned windows are recommended for noisy environments, such as homes near airports or in extreme climate conditions.

Q: Are all argon-filled windows the same?

Erb: No. The warm edge spacer used will determine how well the argon stays in the insulating glass over time. Windows made with Super Spacer have some of the best argon retention rates in the industry, increasing the overall life expectancy and durability of the window system.

Erb encourages homeowners to ask what spacer is in the window system because, while it is only part of the whole system, having the right spacer can make all of the difference in reducing noise, improving energy efficiency in the home and preventing health-related illnesses caused by mold.

For more information or help choosing windows, visit www. healthsmartwindows.com.

Courtesy North American Precis Syndicate

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