How can I ensure full efficiency of my replacement windows and doors?
Replacement windows and doors include many available features and with so many options to choose from it can be hard to decide which features provide full efficiency. Looking at both window and door replacement, to get full efficiency you would need to look at the materials used, the type of window or door, and the installation.
The materials used in a window frame are essential in ensuring full efficiency from your window replacement. For example, a wood frame is less prone to heat and cold transfer than an aluminum frame since metals conduct temperature much more easily than wood. However, wood may not be the best choice for energy efficiency in your home. There are different materials available for window frames with their own benefits and drawbacks. The choice in the frame will be dependent on your preference, budget, and need for full efficiency.
Vinyl: Vinyl tends to be a less expensive material but it does not mean it is a cheap choice. A well-constructed and properly fitted vinyl window may be a cost-effective option, providing high energy efficiency through insulated glass and tight construction that minimizes air leakage. The choice of vinyl does limit the options in color and subjectively some homeowners prefer the aesthetic look of other materials.
Wood: Wood windows provide one of the highest insulating values, but they require more maintenance compared to vinyl or aluminum frames. They are also not the ideal choice for particularly humid or wet locations due to the possibility of rot. However, a well-built wood window can endure a long lifespan. Many original wood windows in older homes are still in good condition due to the high-quality cut and species of wood used.
Aluminum: By itself, it is not the top-performing material in terms of heat transfer and loss. Aluminum windows are practical in rainy, humid climates and can withstand extreme weather conditions because of their durability. Some aluminum window frames may be equipped with thermal breaks to separate the interior and exterior surface and reduce heat transfer. They are also low maintenance compared to wood frames.
Fiberglass: Is extremely durable and resistant to harsh weather conditions. In terms of energy efficiency, it can be more efficient than vinyl window frames. Fiberglass window frames are also sleek and stylish and come in a wide selection of finishes and colors to match the design of your home. Due to the glass base, fiberglass is very effective at insulating against sound as well.
The frame material is important to the overall efficiency of a window. However, the glass used in a window can also have a direct effect on its energy efficiency. The common glass used is double-pane and triple-paned windows, where triple-paned windows will offer the best thermal insulating power. The larger the gap between the panes the better the insulation. Along with the glass type, windows could also have a specific coating treated onto them such as Low-E coating. This feature helps in reducing heat infiltration and blocks damaging UV rays from penetrating your home. To further add to the energy efficiency of a window, a gas such as Argon and Krypton could be used to fill the gap between double and triple-paned windows. The gas conducts up to 50% less heat than air and protects against heat loss and condensation in cold climates
A good insulating door keeps the outdoor weather out of your home and prevents unwanted heat exchange. It also prevents air and temperature leak from your home. This means that the amount of energy used to heat or cool your home internally is not wasted if you have energy-efficient doors. To ensure the full energy efficiency of your replacement doors you have to take into account the materials used, the glass, and weatherstripping.
Wood: Fully wooden doors were widely and commonly used but they are poor insulators of heat and are found to be the least energy efficient door material. To make a wooden door more energy efficient it can have a core filled with polyurethane foam.
Steel: Steel doors are fairly energy efficient because they are a good thermal insulator. The only drawback is that they are also a good conductor of heat. This results in the feeling of coldness or warmth when touching this door material.
Vinyl: Vinyl is another energy-efficient door material that provides good thermal insulation. Vinyl blocks external heat or cold air from entering your home. It also retains the temperature inside your home ensuring no energy is wasted. Doors made from vinyl are also low maintenance and can directly mimic the look of a wooden door but still hold the energy efficiency of the vinyl material.
Fiberglass: Fiberglass doors are a poor conductor of heat and electricity. As a result, this material offers greater insulation than that of a wooden door. Fiberglass doors are also highly weather resistant which directly minimizes the rate of heat loss.
Glass and weatherstripping
If your exterior replacement door has glass panes it is important to ensure they have energy-efficient properties as well. This would include the same properties mentioned above such as the number of panes, Low-E Coating, and having them filled with gas instead of air.
Another feature to ensure full energy efficiency from your replacement door is weatherstripping. It involves the application of an insulating strip around the door perimeter to avoid air and heat flow. Weatherstripping ensures that no heat or cold is transferred from the outdoors.
Along with the materials used and weatherstripping, the most vital component of your energy-efficient replacement windows and doors is how they are installed. It is not recommended to install exterior doors or windows by yourself and it is not considered a do-it-yourself project. You can have a good product in a full energy efficient window or door but without the proper installation, your window and door replacement could be lacking appropriate fitting, resulting in leaking air. At this point, it would be best to consult a windows and doors professional for all related services.