The sun is strong – are your windows stronger?
If your whole family is secretly readjusting the thermostat when you’re not looking, your windows could be to blame. Here’s what to look for.
That baking summer sun has done a number on our region this season. Backyard sprinklers and inflatable pools help beat the heat, but when we finally retreat inside, our homes should be a comfortable place to relax. For most of us, the air conditioner does the heavy lifting, but did you know your windows could be sabotaging your A/C’s performance? There are three sneaky ways the sun overcomes your windows’ components, and a failure in any or all of these areas will leave you changing the thermostat when you really should be changing your windows.
This is the heat we feel directly from the sun, and it can easily enter our homes through inefficient window glass. If you have older single-paned windows (just one pane of glass), the effect of radiation can be extreme. Most windows today are dual-paned with two panes of glass and an air gap in between that acts as a buffer to prevent some of that radiant heat from getting in through the glass.
In many cases, window manufacturers fill the air gap with an inert gas that further insulates against radiant heat transmission. Additionally, low-emissivity or “low-E” coatings are often applied to the glass to reflects the sun’s heat away from the window.
If your window glass is especially warm to the touch, or your dual-paned windows aren’t gas-filled, have lost their gas fill, or don’t have a low-E coating, it’s time to upgrade. At ImproveIt, our exclusive energy-efficient windows are specially designed to maximize all of these protective features, including two panes of glass, insulating argon gas fill, and a 12-layer coating process specific to how the sun behaves in our area of the country. These layers not only reflect sunlight back to the source, but also prevent UV rays from fading your furniture, draperies, and carpets.
Unlike radiation, conduction takes place when heat moves through the frame and other non-glass window components. One of those components is called the “spacer,” which separates the two glass panes, and seals in the argon gas. If your windows have metal spacers (which is highly likely, as they’re used in 93% of all windows), they could contribute to heat loss. Here’s how:
Metal is an excellent conductor of heat, and as the sun’s rays beat down on the window, metal spacers carry that heat through both panes of glass, and right into your home. Plus, weather cycles cause metal spacers to expand and contract, and that stress weakens the integrity of the seal that holds the argon gas. If that seal breaks and the gas fill leaks out, your windows lose an important energy efficiency element.
The window frame itself can also be a conductor if it isn’t properly insulated. In many cases, especially with lower-priced replacement windows, the vinyl frames have hollow construction. This allows heat to move through the vinyl window exterior, get trapped inside the frame, and move straight through to the vinyl on the interior side of the window – once again, right into your home.
ImproveIt’s windows all but eliminate heat loss through conduction. Our exclusive SolarGold non-metal spacer won’t conduct heat between the panes, and we pair it with a fully-insulated frame that keeps heat from moving into your house around the edges of the window.
The final way heat sneaks into your home in the summer is through gaps around the edges of your windows. Believe it or not, most replacement window installations don’t include insulation between the new window and the framing of your home. Instead, unsealed gaps are hidden by the trim pieces and window casings, leaving easy access for hot air to seep into your comfortable home.
If those small gaps seem harmless, here’s a little perspective: If a standard window has as little as a 1/16-inch gap all the way around it, that’s the equivalent of a hole the size of a brick in the side of your house! If you wouldn’t leave a brick-sized hole in your wall on purpose, don’t do it by accident either. ImproveIt’s Installation process includes steps to seal those gaps and keep hot summer air from infiltrating into your conditioned space.
Last month, we shared some tips and tricks on how to reduce your summer A/C usage, but even those tips don’t compare to having the most, energy-efficient windows in your home. If you’re tired of constantly running the air conditioner this summer, give ImproveIt a call for a free in-home or virtual window replacement consultation. With the right windows for your home, you’ll reclaim the thermostat and be the master of your own comfort once again.