There are many reasons to build a new home. Ensuring you have one of the most energy efficient homes is only one of many.
But it’s a big one.
After all, having an energy efficient home will ensure you pay less every single month in utility bills. And building a new home gives you the chance to select the best, most efficient building materials on the market. Your furnace, your water heater, even the appliances you select for your kitchen will all make an impact on your bottom line.
But don’t overlook your windows. They’re part of the design of your home. You have a choice in size, style, quality, and efficiency. Choosing Energy Star rated windows can help you save hundreds of dollars a year in your energy bills alone.
Have you shopped for windows before? If not, there’s a lot to learn. And the more you learn before you make your final selections for your new home, the more you can customize them to give you a look and feel you desire.
What window material is best?
Windows are made from a variety of materials with the three most popular being wood, vinyl, and aluminum.
Wood windows are considered to be the most traditional material. Wood is classic. Wood is solid. Wood gives you a look and feel like nothing else can. That’s why all other materials work to mimic this look that stands the test of time.
A solid wood frame provides far better insulation qualities than steel or aluminum. That means wood windows are a great choice to ensure the most energy efficient home. They may require a bit more work than other materials—you’ll have to paint them from time to time. But with the right care, they can last a long time.
Not sure you want to commit to the maintenance requirements of wood? Give vinyl windows a try instead. They perform similarly to wood windows, but are less expensive and require less maintenance over time. With the newest technology, vinyl windows have high R-values and are structured with significant amounts of insulation. They are a close alternative to real wood.
Aluminum windows offer low maintenance and are the least expensive option available. They are flexible in design and can be finished to take on a specific color, or left alone in its natural state giving it an even more maintenance-free option to your lifestyle.
What window style is best for your room?
You’ll be surprised at how many different styles and selections of windows there are, each offering its own benefits to your home.
You might be most familiar with single and double-hung windows. These windows slide up and down to open and close. A single hung window has one operable piece of glass whereas a double hung window has two—you can slide both top and bottom open to determine how best to create airflow. This design makes opening and cleaning a breeze.
Casement windows are hinged at the side. That means instead of lifting your window into place, you’ll use a crank to open and close the window. Casement windows are great options for the difficult to reach areas of your home.
Awning windows are hinged at the top and open outward. Because they create an awning, they are the only window you can leave open during a rain shower without worrying about rain getting in. They operate with a hand crank system to allow you to open up to as much ventilation as you need.
Slider windows are similar to double hung windows, with the sliding action from side to side. They come in many sizes while still offering ventilation making them the perfect choices for your largest wall space.
Picture windows are fixed within the window frame, without the possibility of ventilation. That makes them the most energy efficient window option for your home. They come in just about any size, shape, or combination you can imagine, which makes them the perfect choice for glorifying a view.
What about glass options?
The most important aspect of a window is the glass. The glass you select determines the energy efficiency of your home. It’s also decided by the glass that is used between the panes, and how many panes of glass are in place.
Two panes of glass are better than one; three are better than two. You’ll find triple pane windows in energy efficient homes not just because they create a tighter seal, but also because they are more resistant to moisture. It’s the condensation that impacts your efficiency, and triple panes do an excellent job of keeping moisture away.
You’ll find either Argon or Krypton gas between your windows for the best insulation qualities. You’ll also find Low-E, a film placed on the inside of your window panes that helps reflect infrared light to keep conditioned air where it’s supposed to be.
Of course, it’s also important to look for the Energy Star rating. These guidelines are used to help you determine efficiencies with all four parts of the window: the glass, the gas, the spacer, and the reinforcement. The higher the rating, the more guarantees you’ll have of creating a highly efficient home.
What about style?
Now comes the fun part. Now it’s all about style.
Do you like a traditional home, filled with the looks of a simpler time? Do you envision a large front porch with the traditional farmhouse to match?
Or maybe you’re idea of the perfect home is modern and contemporary. A wall of glass is ideal for your plans.
That’s where windows accentuate the look. While some houses may do well by playing up the color palette of your window frames to emphasize the looks of your home, in other cases nothing but glass will do. You could never get by with having flashy frames that stand out from the rest of your home.
You already have a style in mind, even if you don’t know it. Take a look at your “dream home” file. What pictures do you have in there? What photos have you pinned? What pages from a magazine have you ripped out? Take a closer look at the windows.
Do they stand out or blend in? Do they accentuate the wall space or are they the wall?
Customizing a new home built just for you is the fun part of the process. And while you might be dreaming of move-in day, excited for all the new opportunities a new home will bring to your family, don’t forget to spend a little more time on the details.
If you select the perfect windows today, you’ll have a home you love for a lifetime.