Windows are a key feature of any home. Cosmetically, they represent the “eyes” of the house, shaping its overall appearance. Functionally, they permit sunlight and fresh air to enter the home.
But windows are more than that. They can play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint of a home, and they do so in some ways that you may not have considered:
Most home buyers or builders know the importance of using well-insulated windows. They are a notorious culprit for heat loss in the winter and heat entry in the summer. It is essential to have windows that utilize multiple panes of glass and are framed properly in well-insulated materials.
But one area that is often overlooked here is installation, particularly in replacement windows. During a replacement, there is that short time between when the old window is removed and when the new one is installed. Make sure your new windows are installed by the manufacturer or a licensed installer — an expert, if you will. For example, if you live in Texas and want to replace your windows before the summer heat wave hits, you will want to find local experts like Houston Windows. That way, your contract can be written to include checking the wall and the window opening during this time to detect any caulks, gaps, or insulation deficiencies that can be taken care of during installation.
We all know that windows can allow or block sunlight from coming into the home, but we typically think about that only in terms of visual light.
It is important to remember that sunlight also means “sun heat”, and that the introduction of heat into the home can be good or bad, depending on the season. An important first step every winter morning in your home should be to open all the window treatments and to take advantage of every bit of free heat that the sun is providing, and your summer routine should likewise obscure sun whenever it’s possible.
It’s true that no one wants a dungeon-like atmosphere with every blind drawn, but closing those blinds we can is very helpful to the power bill, particularly with intense, direct afternoon sun and in rooms that are used infrequently.
Everything we do with windows and blinds is about balance. If there is more heat outside than we want, the windows are closed. If there is less, we open them. But it’s about more than just temperature.
Moisture is a big issue in homes. Mildew, mold, and even some corrosion of contents can take place if there is too much water vapor inside. When we are doing things inside the home that create a wetter atmosphere, we typically utilize mechanical means to dry things up. We may run the fan on the central air unit, or we could plug in dehumidifiers to capture the moisture.
But a lower cost and easier option: Why not simply open the windows? Invest in an inexpensive indoor/outdoor hygrometer (or even just go by feel) and open windows when you’re trying to dry things up after carpet shampooing, plumbing leaks, or other high-moisture situations. These techniques will allow the passive movement of dry air from outside to do what your electric bill would have been doing. Just be sure to shut off your heat and air until everything is dry.
We all have things we want to see outside, and we often go in and out repeatedly to check on them. It could be the doghouse where an ailing pet is recuperating, or it could be a nearby waterway that threatens to flood your property during a rainstorm. Whatever it is, you may be wasting a lot of heat and air conditioning with your repeated trips to monitor these changing situations.
This is where home design planning comes in. When we are building a home, we think mainly inside the four walls. But if we can just look ahead to things like these examples, we might make the choice to install a window in a strategic location that wouldn’t otherwise seem necessary. Its presence could allow you to watch things without constantly going in and out.
Windows play a lot of important roles in the home. Making the most of them from a green perspective means thinking about all those roles and analyzing ways that you can make better use of them for energy savings.