Why the U-Factor of Your Windows Matters

Posted on by High Performance Homes Inc

Decreased Energy Loss Means a Lower Electrical Bill

To the chagrin of many homeowners, a house’ windows are a prime source of heat loss. This can mean that you spend more on keeping your home warm in the winter. Less advanced windows also let more heat in in the summer, which leads to running your air conditioner on full blast. Design, construction and installation all matter when it comes to optimizing your house for maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout the year. High Performance Homes is your place for windows in West Linn. Keep in mind that while the tips in this article refer to homes, they are also practical for use in commercial locations, such as offices or retail stores.

Windows West Linn

So What is U-Factor Anyway?

U-factor refers to the rate at which your windows allow heat to pass through. The higher the value, the more energy escapes through the windows. Obviously, lower is better. So how do you achieve the lowest possible U-factor rating for your living space?

It All Starts with High-Quality Windows

The most basic indicator of how well a window insulates against energy loss is its thickness. A single pane does not keep heat from escaping as well as a double- or even triple-paned window. For a good indication of which types tend to be the most efficient, look for the ENERGY STAR label. This means that the window was thoroughly tested to ensure that it’s a budget- and eco-friendly option when it comes to energy loss.High Performance Home Windows

Don’t Forget About Installation

To function properly a window needs to be installed correctly. You can do this yourself. Make sure that you seal both the inside and the outside of each installation. There are a variety of different products you can use for this operation. Two of the most effective and easiest to use are caulking and foam spray.

Foam Spray for the Win

Foam spray is an expanding product that fills in cracks. You can usually get it in different varieties, such as for wide cracks or thin ones. If you have problems with bugs and mice coming in, you can get one that’s laced with a bitter agent that critters absolutely hate chewing through. There are also versions of foam spray that are fire-resistant for safety. Whichever you choose, make sure that it comes with a long straw that attaches to the nozzle. This straw allows you to reach deeply into cracks to ensure that you fill them completely.

The product will probably expand outward, creating a large border around your window. this is fine. Just wait until it’s dry and then use a razor to cut off the excess. Since foam can expand forcefully, make sure that your windows are installed securely to keep it from displacing them.

Caulk it Up

Caulking is a very long-lasting material. You can use it for plumbing and other applications beyond sealing windows. To properly apply it, you need a tool known as a caulking gun. Make sure to test them out in the store first, as you’ll be spending a lot of time squeezing the trigger and you want to get the model that’s most comfortable for you to use.

Caulking comes in two main varieties, silicone and latex. Latex provides decent sealing performance, and it’s usually less expensive than silicone. It doesn’t have the same flexibility as silicone, which makes it more brittle and likely to crack under changing temperatures.

Silicone is versatile enough to maintain its shape even under stress. The disadvantage is that you can’t paint silicone caulking. If you want to have it match your color scheme you need to find a variety that’s already tinted, usually in white, beige or almond, black and gray, or go for a clear version. Make sure to check the labels on your caulking to ensure that you’ve got the correct variety. Caulks labeled for outdoor use are safe to have exposed to the rain and sunshine. You can use an outdoor caulking indoors, but be aware that it might have VOCs, and thus a noxious fume.

Extra Steps for Energy Efficiency

When you’re trying to maintain an optimal temperature in your home, you can rely on more than your windowpanes. Setting up blinds lets you control the amount of light coming into your building, and thus reduce the overall heat level. While it might be tempting to open up your doors to allow a breeze to come in, it’s better to run your AC if you want to quickly lower the temperature. Wind might feel cool, but all it’s doing is carrying off perspiration, not actually cooling down your home.

If it’s your electricity bill that you’re worried about, swap out any CFL and older light bulbs that you might have in your home for LEDs. They require a fraction of the power, generate far less heat than traditional models, and can last for tens of thousands of hours. Remember ENERGY STAR windows? Well, that designation also applies to appliances. If you don’t have them already, swap out your devices for ones that are certified to use less electricity to run and watch your electric bill plummet. Consider installing a home automation device and running it from a control app. This smart home solution automatically manages the power use in your home, and it can lead to reduced waste and greater savings.

Your best bet is to have an expert help you with design. High Performance Homes, Inc employs skilled designers and technicians with years of experience in giving homeowners just like you the energy use profile that they need. With one phone call you can set up a consultation to have them evaluate your home and identify critical areas in which you can improve, including many ways that you might not have considered. They can install your windows and make sure that it gets done right the first time. Once they’re done, your home is a top-tier building that gives you years of energy efficiency and comfort.

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