In 2020, electricity users in the US consumed an estimated 3.8 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh). That’s 200 billion kWh less than 2018, but still 13 times higher than electricity use in 1950. What’s more, 38.9% of that 2020 usage went toward powering the residential sector alone.
That’s right: US homes are the leading consumers of electricity in the nation. For the same reason, homeowners can benefit by making energy efficiency upgrades.
Energy-efficient windows, or eco windows, are a perfect example of such upgrades. You should definitely consider these updates, as old and faulty windows waste a lot of energy. In fact, aged and defective windows are among the least energy-efficient aspects of a home.
The big question is, how exactly do windows affect your home’s energy efficiency?
This guide explains the link between the two, so be sure to read on.
Heat transfer is the process in which thermal energy moves from one location to another. Many objects in a home, such as windows, can serve as such a location.
The main problem with windows is that they have a poor thermal resistance. This means they don’t completely resist the transfer or flow of heat from, say, indoor or outdoor air. Instead, they allow thermal energy from the air to pass through them.
For those reasons, windows can account for as much as 30% of a building’s heating and cooling energy. Much of that results from the heat gains and losses that transpire through windows.
Heat Gains in the Summer
During summer, the heat from outdoor air can penetrate bare windows. This can then raise the temperature inside your home, as the heat can spread to the indoor air and other items. This makes your home warmer, leading to your air conditioner having more cooling work to do.
Sunlight also carries a lot of heat energy, also known as infrared. In fact, more than half of the sunlight that reaches the earth is in heat or infrared form.
As such, sunlight streaming through windows also contributes to higher indoor temperatures. This can then prompt you to put your air conditioner on full blast. The more often you do this, the more energy your AC consumes, and the higher your energy bills.
Heat Losses in the Winter
According to experts, about a third of the total heat loss in homes during winter is due to windows. One reason is that the air warmed by your space heater can pass and escape through windows.
As if that’s not bad enough, the cold from the winter air can also penetrate your windows. It then mixes with the heated air inside your home, causing a drop in indoor temperature.
So, you might also end up raising your thermostat setting so that your heater can produce more warmth. Just like with your AC, this also consumes more energy, leading to higher energy bills.
Air leakage is the unintentional introduction of outdoor air into indoor spaces. Also called infiltration, air leakage occurs through building cracks, holes, and openings.
Windows are some of the top causes of air leaks since they can possess all these features. For example, outdoor air can enter through the gaps and cracks around their frames. The same goes for the sash bars that hold glass panes in place.
Unfortunately, cracked or drafty windows can allow too much outdoor air to get into your home. During summer, they let warm, humid air seep into your abode. In the winter, they permit cold air to infiltrate your indoor space.
Normal wear, tear, and aging are some of the most common reasons windows develop leaks. However, these problems can also occur because of improper installation.
For example, incorrect installation can result in premature window caulking failure. Caulking, in turn, is the primary sealant of window joints and seams against leaks. So, when this material degrades, it results in cracks or gaps, leading to air leaks.
Impaired Heating and Air Con Performance
Space heating and cooling, on average, account for about half of the energy use in a home. However, as explained above, they can use even more energy due to heat losses and gains and air leaks.
More than that, such window-related woes put more strain on your comfort systems. For example, their effects on your indoor climate can force you to run your heater or AC for longer periods. The more often you do this, the more wear and tear your furnace or air conditioner sustains.
Premature wear and tear, in turn, can reduce your space heater and AC performance. This can result in inadequate cooling or heating, prompting you to run the systems longer. So, the harsh cycle continues until the heater or air conditioner breaks down.
Moreover, warm, moist air that enters drafty windows can raise indoor humidity levels. Now, your AC helps control humidity as it absorbs the heat and moisture out of the air before cooling it down. However, if the air is too humid, it’ll take your AC more time to suck out the moisture and cool the air down.
That’s another way windows, due to their air leaks, affect your energy consumption.
By contrast, energy-efficient windows can extend the life of your comfort systems. That’s because they have higher heat resistance and are less prone to air leaks. As a bonus, the folks at First Place Windows say these new windows are more beautiful.
So, not only do replacement windows save energy and money, but they can also boost your home’s appeal.
Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency with High-Quality Replacement Windows
There you have it, the guide that explains how windows impact a home’s energy efficiency. Now, you know that it’s mostly due to poor heat transfer resistance and air leakage. Age and improper installation, in turn, can make things worse.
So, as early as now, get in touch with a window replacement specialist. This way, they can help you confirm if it’s time to upgrade your old windows to energy-efficient ones.
Ready for more home and lifestyle hacks? Then feel free to browse this site’s other educational news and blog posts!