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If your bills are skyrocketing despite your conscious efforts to reduce energy consumption, it can only mean that your home isn’t properly outfitted with energysaving features and materials, such as energy-efficient windows and siding. As a result, no matter what you do to reduce your energy usage, your basic climate control costs will remain high. Without energy-efficient materials, solar heat can enter the home through the windows or siding, forcing your air conditioner to consume more energy to cool the home. During winter, heat can escape through the same windows and siding, driving up the cost of heating. In this ebook, we’ll share with you the basics of choosing energy-saving windows and siding.


PART 1: TMEASURING ENERGY EFFICIENCY: LEARNING ABOUT NFRC RATINGS AND

When energy-efficient materials first started to gain popularity with homeowners, manufacturers left and right began to claim that their products had the ability to reduce energy consumption. However, back then, there was no way for consumers to verify if a certain product did in fact have this ability, and to what extent. MEASURING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN WINDOWS With the establishment of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and the development of measurable characteristics to properly rate energy efficiency, consumers are now able to tell which window products really do have the ability to save energy. Manufacturers claiming that their products are energy-efficient need to submit a sample to the NFRC. The council performs specific tests to measure the product’s degree of energy efficiency, and the results are published on a label that manufacturers can attach to their products. For windows, the NFRC label provides four primary ratings: U-Factor - This is the measurement of heat that enters and escapes through the window. The lower this rating, the better the window is at preventing heat from passing through. An energy-efficient window will usually have a U-Factor rating of at least 0.30.


PART 1: MEASURING ENERGY EFFICIENCY: NFRC RATINGS AND R-VALUE

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) - This is the measurement of how much solar heat passes through the window, thus increasing the home’s interior temperature. This rating is usually a figure between 0 and 1. The lower the rating, the better the window is at preventing solar heat from passing through. Visible Transmittance (VT) - In the past, when you wanted to prevent solar heat from passing through a window, you would simply cover it. The downside to that would be that you would also prevent natural light from passing through. Visible transmittance measures how much natural light passes through a window. The rating is between 0 and 1, but the higher the rating, the better. Air Leakage (AL) - This is a measurement of how much air enters and escapes through a window. If air can escape, it follows that heat will too. For this rating, you’ll need to look for the lowest figures. Windows with an AL rating of 0.30 or lower are considered to be energyefficient. MEASURING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN SIDING The energy efficiency of siding is measured through its R-Value rating, which is provided by the Department of Energy. R-Value is the measurement of an insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow or, to put it simply, its thermal resistance. Therefore, the higher the R-value, the better the material performs in resisting heat. R-value typically depends on the type of insulation used in a material, its thickness, and its density. In the next post, we’ll give you some tips on choosing the right window and siding materials, so stay tuned!


PART 2: CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALS

There are two ways you can choose the right energy-efficient windows or siding for your home. The first is to check the energy rating labels as described in our previous post. The other method would be to familiarize yourself with the best energy-efficient materials being used on windows and siding today. CHOOSING MATERIALS FOR WINDOWS Windows are usually made up of two main components: the frame and the glass panel. For window frames, the type of material you’ll need to look for are those that are poor heat conductors. Metal and aluminum frames, though highly durable, are also excellent heat conductors, which makes them a less desirable choice when it comes to energy efficiency. Wooden window frames are poor at conducting heat, making them more energy-efficient. However, they require extensive maintenance. One type of material worth looking at is Fibrex, a composite of wood fibers and PVC, both of which are excellent energy-saving materials. This framing material insulates at least 70% better than aluminum. Furthermore, you’ll need to look for windows that have low-emissivity (low-e) glass. This type of glass has a thin low-e coating that allows natural light to pass through while blocking heat transfer at the same time.


PART 2: CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALS

You will also need to look for windows that have at least two glass panels, which provide a space for an insulating inert gas fills such as argon. CHOOSING SIDING There are close to half a dozen siding materials available on the market today. Unfortunately, not all of them have excellent energy-efficient properties. Among the best energy-efficient materials used for siding today is insulated vinyl siding, which generally has an R-value of 2.7. Insulated steel and aluminum siding also offer outstanding R-values.

In the next post, we’ll take a look at the reasons why you should invest in energy-efficient windows and siding, so stay tuned!


PART 3: ENERGY-EFFICIENT WINDOWS AND SIDING: A ROUND-UP OF OTHER BENEFIT

The primary purpose of buying energy-efficient windows and siding is to reduce your energy costs. However, did you know that these products have a wealth of other benefits as well? Here are a few other benefits you can enjoy: DURABILITY One of the things you’ll notice about energy-efficient materials is that they are also highly durable. For example, Fibrex is also considered one of the most durable and stable materials for window frames today. Fibrex frames do not warp, blister, twist, or deform in any way even in extreme weather. Additionally, Fibrex frames do not rot, decay or contribute to the formation of mold. They’re both fire and water resistant, and guaranteed to last their stated lifespan. For siding, insulated vinyl materials also have similar properties to Fibrex, most likely because the two materials share a common property, PVC. EASE OF MAINTENANCE One of the best benefits of energy-saving materials is that they not only save you money on energy costs, but on maintenance as well. Most energy-saving materials do not require extensive regular maintenance, such as repainting or repair, and this is particularly true for Fibrex windows.


PART 3: ENERGY-EFFICIENT WINDOWS AND SIDING: A ROUND-UP OF OTHER BENEFITS

Meanwhile, for siding, in the rare event the material gets damaged, such as when a hard object damages a part of a panel, you can simply replace that particular panel. Other siding materials such as fiber cement also offer uncompromised durability and ease of maintenance, as they are practically impervious to damage. LONGER LIFESPAN Because these energy-efficient materials are highly durable, you can expect them to last longer than ordinary materials. This means that you may not even need to replace the material within your home’s lifetime. In fact, the next generation will likely be able to enjoy the materials for a good portion of their lives as well.

Choosing energy-efficient windows and siding for your home shouldn’t be too hard as long as you know what features and qualities you should look for. When you take the time to carefully choose the right products, you can easily enjoy their benefits. To make sure that you’re making the right decision, do not hesitate to consult a trusted building or remodeling professional in your area.


Mid America Exteriors, Inc. 1625 East Central Ave. Wichita, KS 67214 (316) 265-5444 www.midamericaexteriors.com

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Tips on choosing energy saving materials windows and siding  

Want to lower your energy bills? Invest in energy-efficient windows and siding! Learn more and get useful tips from this three-part blog se...

Tips on choosing energy saving materials windows and siding  

Want to lower your energy bills? Invest in energy-efficient windows and siding! Learn more and get useful tips from this three-part blog se...

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