A homeowner peers off his deck through his eco-friendly windows

Windows are a vital component in any residential space. They allow the property’s interior to receive natural light from outside while shielding it from weather elements.

Many homeowners have begun investing in large windows to maximize the amount of light that enters their homes. However, this isn’t the only path to energy-efficient or eco-friendly windows.

Most modern windows are designed to be eco-friendly and energy-efficient, but there is always room for improvement.

This guide will examine how you can achieve eco-friendly windows. These tips range from making minor adjustments to swapping out your window entirely for a different type. So keep an eye out for the method that best fits your needs.

How Do I Make Windows More Eco-Friendly?

Here are the best techniques to create eco-friendly windows, including:

  • Get Vacuum-Insulated Glass
  • Install Triple Pane Windows
  • Fit Your Windows Properly
  • Paint Your Window Frames
  • Apply Caulk or Weatherstrips
  • Add Blinds, Drapes, or Shades
  • Apply Solar Window Film
  • Add Low-Emissivity Storm Windows
  • Choose Sustainable Window Frames
  • Get Timber Wood Frames
  • Get Casement Windows
  • Install Awnings

Creating the Most Eco-Friendly Window

Get Vacuum-Insulated Glass

If you live in a home built over thirty years ago, there’s a good chance the windows are single pane. This characteristic means that only one sheet of glass separates the home’s interior from the outside world.

Such designs allow natural sunlight to enter the house easily. However, they do a poor job of insulating the home.

Homeowners with such windows should have these glass panes swapped out with vacuum-insulated glass.

This type of windowpane features two glass panels separated by a small space that contains a vacuum. Therefore, there is no air between the panels to transfer heat into or out of the home.

Vacuum-insulated glass is believed to offer six to ten times the insulation performance of standard monolithic glass. This feature means you may be able to cut down on your heating bill in the winter and air conditioning bills in the summer significantly.

Install Triple Pane Windows

If double pane vacuum-insulated glass windows are impressive, triple pane windows take it a step further.

As the name implies, these eco-friendly windows feature three panes of glass stacked in front of one another with a small gap in between. This gap does not contain a vacuum. Instead, it is filled with an inert gas like argon or krypton.

This inert gas helps slow down heat transfer into and out of the home, meaning the house remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Studies have found that triple pane windows can be 40% more efficient than double pane windows. This change can lead to significant energy cost savings for homeowners in the long run.

Homeowners should note that triple pane windows use more material than double pane windows, meaning they may be less environmentally friendly than the double pane variety. However, they may still be able to help the environment thanks to their added energy efficiency.

Fit Your Windows Properly

Experts believe that 10% of the heat loss in homes occurs through windows.

Approximately two-thirds of this is through the glass panes themselves, and one-third is from air leaks. This breakdown means a home fitted with vacuum-insulated glass may still lose a fair amount of heat due to air leaks.

Some air leaks may be present around different spaces in a home. However, there is no reason for such air leaks to be present on a well-fitted window.

Homeowners can look for air leaks around their windows by placing their hands close to the window frame and feeling for any drafts on a cold day.

Once an air leak has been discovered, they should verify if the leak is from a crack or defect in the glass or an improperly fitted frame.

If the leak is from a wrongly-fitted frame, they can contact a glazier or home improvement expert to refit the window after adjusting the opening’s size. A better fit will get rid of air leaks and minimize heat loss through this source, leading to better long-term energy savings.

Paint Your Window Frames

A worker paint the exterior of a window frame to create a more eco-friendly window

Painting your window frames white can also lead to savings because the color white reflects both sunlight and heat, unlike darker colors which absorb both. This quality means heat is less likely to enter your home if the window frames are painted white.  

This tip is handy for homes with timber-frame windows. Adding a coat of paint to such surfaces also helps protect them longer, which contributes to sustainability in the long run.

So consider giving your frames a quick paint job if you want to achieve eco-friendly windows without outright replacing them.

Apply Caulk or Weatherstrips 

As mentioned above, air leaks often appear when a window has been fitted improperly. Refitting your window can reduce the prevalence of such leaks. However, some air leaks may still occur due to the natural gaps between the glass panes and the window frame.

It is possible to get rid of these air leaks by applying caulk or weatherstrips. Caulk should be applied to each joint in the window frame and the joint between the window’s edge and wall. Weatherstripping is typically added to the top of the window’s upper and lower sash.

A draft stopper at the base of a window frame
One easy alternative to caulk or weatherstripping for creating eco-friendly windows is to use a draft stopper.

The Department of Energy has stated that caulking your windows can help save 10-20% on your energy bill, making them a quick and affordable way to achieve energy-efficient and eco-friendly windows.

Add Blinds, Drapes, or Shades

Adding blinds, drapes, or shades to your windows helps boost residents’ privacy. However, these additions may also help increase your window’s energy efficiency.

Blinds, drapes, and shades can block out sunlight that would otherwise enter your home and increase the interior temperature.

Homes without such coverings often suffer from high energy bills because residents are forced to turn up the air conditioning to compensate for the heat entering the home through sunlight radiation.

Drapes are considered the best option to make windows more energy-efficient as they block up to 33% of the heat from sunlight from entering your home in the summer and 10% of heat from escaping in the winter.

Window blinds also do an excellent job of preventing heat from sunlight from entering your home, but they aren’t as effective at preventing heat loss from inside the house in the winter.

Apply Solar Window Film

Homeowners who would like to reduce heat entering their home through sunlight should consider applying solar window film to the glass. This is a particular film that functions similarly to a car sun-shield.

Closeup on a window to which a homeowner is applier solar film to create a more eco-friendly window

One study found that homeowners reduced their energy consumption by around 30% after installing solar films to their windows.

Earlier generations of solar window films were tinted and reduced the view of the outdoors when applied to the window glass. Modern iterations are transparent and allow residents to see the outdoors without their view being noticeably dimmed.

This upgrade makes solar films an excellent choice for eco-friendly windows among homeowners who want to make their windows more energy-efficient without replacing the entire window.

Add Low-Emissivity Storm Windows

If replacing your home’s existing windows with a double glazed or vacuum-insulated variety is too tricky, you can opt to add low-emissivity storm windows instead. These storm windows are coated with a thin metal layer that reflects infrared heat toward the home’s interior.

Such windows are typically installed on the existing window’s exterior portion and can be set up with little to no changes to the existing arrangement.

The Department of Energy estimates that Low-E storm windows can save homeowners 10-30% on heating and cooling costs for in the long run.

Choose Sustainable Window Frames

Another great way to create eco-friendly windows is to choose frames made from sustainable materials such as composite. These frames are made from recycled plastics and wood shavings but maintain the durability of actual wood.

Choosing composite window frames reduces the demand for actual wood frames in windows and benefits the environment long-term.

Homeowners can also opt for aluminum eco-friendly window frames. Aluminum is one of the greenest metals because it is easy to recycle. This light metal may begin to twist and warp over the years, but it is still cheap to replace.

Other homeowners who would like their window frames to mimic the appearance of wood but without using actual timber can opt for vinyl. This material offers excellent insulation and weather durability, perfect for window frames. 

Get Timber Wood Frames

Timber wood frames are an excellent option to help the environment by reducing your energy consumption. However, these frames may not be as sustainable as other materials such as composite, aluminum, and vinyl.

Still, timber is considered one of the more eco-friendly woods used in the construction industry.

Timber is also known for its energy efficiency. It has low thermal conductivity, which minimizes heat transfer into and out of your home.

Get Casement Windows

Windows come in many shapes and styles. Homeowners may choose one type over another for aesthetic reasons. However, different window styles also vary in terms of energy efficiency.

For example, single and double sliding windows that slide horizontally rather than vertically tend to have a high air leakage rate, which means they have poor energy efficiency. 

Fixed windows have panes that do not open and therefore have zero air leakage if installed correctly. However, such windows may be impractical for homes where residents want to open their windows and let in some fresh air.

Homeowners who would like an openable window style with minimal air leaks should opt for casement windows. These windows have hinges at their sides and are easy to operate. Their sashes also firmly press against the window frame in their closed position, providing a tight seal and reducing air leaks.

Install Awnings

Homeowners can indirectly create more eco-friendly windows by installing awnings above them. An awning’s job is to provide shade to objects and spaces underneath them.

Solar panels installed as a window awning to create a more eco-friendly window
Solar panels installed as a window awning offer a one-two punch for eco-friendliness.

Adding awnings above your windows shields them from sunlight and reduces the amount of heat that enters your home from UV rays. 

Homeowners can opt to install stationary awnings that serve as permanent fixtures for their home’s exterior. Such awnings are solid and last for many years. Alternatively, they can install retractable awnings that fold up when not needed.

The latter can be helpful in homes located in cold climates because homeowners can allow sunlight through the windows during colder months by retracting the awning.

Creating the Most Eco-Friendly Window

You can combine the practices above to create the most energy-efficient and eco-friendly window for your home. The perfect window will have:

  • A casement window style
  • Triple pane design with a vacuum in the gap between panes
  • A solar window film on each panel
  • Caulk on the joints and weatherstrip on the upper and lower sash
  • Composite wood frames
  • Drape coverings
  • An external awning

Conclusion

From the above guide, it should now be apparent there are several excellent methods to make your windows more eco-friendly.

Many of the tips mentioned improve your home’s energy efficiency and lead to long-term savings, reducing your carbon footprint, and benefitting the environment.

Homeowners should consider implementing some of these strategies in their new homes or apply them to their existing windows. The right set of eco-friendly window changes can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle and minimized carbon footprint.

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