The winter season is upon us, which means it is time to reinforce the protection against wintry weather while remaining conscious of energy efficiency. Designers and architects face the challenge of balancing energy efficiency, solar heat gain and the need for natural light when it comes to building or remolding structures in colder climates.
Thankfully, window and door technologies have emerged to help achieve those goals.
Windows for Colder Climates
When designing, south-facing windows are key in cold climates. With limited sunlight during the winter months, the sun’s natural low angle can provide solar heat gain, reducing your heating bill. Here are some modern windows that help maximize this benefit:
• High-performance glazing in windows, such as low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings, can reflect heat back into a room while allowing sunlight to pass through.
• Double-pane and triple-pane windows offer better insulation by creating a layer of air or gas between the panes. This can help prevent heat loss and keep your home warm.
Some specialty window manufacturers have cutting edge innovative window technologies such as electrochromic windows and vacuum insulated glass. These technologies which are just becoming available to the consumer can be a game changer for cold climate homes. Electrochromic windows change tints electronically, which allows you to adjust the amount of light and solar heat entering a room. Vacuum-insulated glass uses a vacuum between two panes and provides exceptional insulation potentially doubling the thermal performance of today’s efficient windows, lending itself for use in cold climates.
If you are looking to improve energy efficiency and minimize heat loss, replacing old, single-pane windows with current code or ENERGY STAR windows can offer significant savings.
Photo Credit: Kolbe
Doors for Colder Climates
Doors have also seen a number of energy efficient advancements over the years and play a significant role in energy efficiency and securing heat.
Installing doors with a traditional steel threshold conducts heat readily. This creates a cold bridge between the door and the floor. Using a thermally broken threshold gives doors an insulating barrier, which reduces heat loss.
Other technology such as self-sealing door gaskets and airtight door jambs fill out the gaps that allow drafts and heat loss between the floor and door.
The most common exterior materials for residential entrance doors are fiberglass, wood or steel each with its own advantage for cost, durability and appearance. The door skin provides the look, but the core of the door is what makes the difference in the thermal performance. Typically, the best performing doors have a foam core.
By embracing innovative window and door technologies, architects and homeowners in cold climates can create buildings that are not only beautiful, but also energy-efficient and comfortable year-round.
Photo Credit: ProVia
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