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Benefits of Low-E Windows in Eco-Friendly Homes
March 4, 2016
Low-E windows are an energy-efficient alternative for eco-friendly homes. Read more about green solutions on the Alternative Energy Construction blog.
The goal of sustainable building is to create a comfortable, eco-friendly home with minimal strain on the environment. This involves harnessing the power of natural resources to lighten the workload on our heating and cooling systems. There are several ways to improve the energy efficiency of your house, and the installation of high-performance windows is near the top of the list.
Proper insulation is crucial in sustainable building, and windows are about more than penthouse views and sweeping vistas. For better or worse, windows have a profound impact on indoor climate. Heat from the sun passes through a clear-glass window during the day, heating up a room considerably. When the sun goes down, the warmth dissipates, passing right back through the same clear-glass window. This constant fluctuation of temperature isn’t conducive to an energy-efficient home, not to mention, it’s highly uncomfortable. Fortunately, windows have come a long way in recent years.
Low-E Windows for Eco-Friendly Homes
Low-E windows offer an energy-efficient alternative for eco-friendly homes. The E in low-E stands for emissivity, or the ease with which radiant energy passes through the glass. Windows made of clear glass are highly emissive, absorbing lots of heat without reflecting any of it. This means heat from the sun is constantly entering and leaving the home, causing the indoor temperature to fluctuate and making your HVAC system work harder to regulate it. Low-E windows are equipped with a transparent metallic coating that allows sunlight to pass through while keeping unwanted summer heat outdoors. Similarly, if it’s chilly outside and the heat kicks on, the coating on a low-E window will help keep the warmth from escaping. Number of panes and types of coating vary, but all low-E windows provide an energy-efficient solution for the sustainable building of eco-friendly homes.
Types of Low-E Windows
There are two primary types of low-E windows typically used in eco-friendly homes: hard-coat and soft-coat. With hard-coat windows, the thin metal coating is applied directly to the glass while it is still extremely hot, essentially welding it in place. Although the coating is on the outside of the pain, it is nearly impossible to scratch off. Soft-coat low-E windows are assembled in a vacuum chamber where the coating is sealed between two panes of glass, often times with a layer of argon gas to provide additional protection and insulation.
Sometimes, sustainable building choices can help protect the interior furnishings of your eco-friendly home as well. In addition to keeping your eco-friendly home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, low-E windows also filter out the sun’s harmful UV radiation. This helps prevent the fading that occurs with carpet and furniture exposed to large amounts of sunlight.
While pretty high-tech in their ability to improve energy efficiency, low-E windows are a surprisingly low-maintenance option for eco-friendly homes. They’re durably built to withstand the elements, and you can clean them the same way you would any window.
Although low-E windows require a bit of a financial investment up front, they pay for themselves time and time again through reduced energy costs. If an eco-friendly home is your goal, then be sure to include low-E windows in your sustainable building plans for your eco-friendly home.