Quick Tips for Choosing Windows

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Window technology has advanced a great deal in recent years, compared to traditional standards. Low-e coatings , double- and triple-glazing and noble gases in air space all help improve energy efficiency. Although you can go into a great deal of detail when choosing your windows, here are three quick tips that you should always bear in mind.

Place windows to suit your home

It's very tempting to install just two or three openable windows (with the lowest U-value and best air filtration resistance possible) in strategic positions and have every other window non-openable to reduce energy losses and costs. However, this approach only works well in new builds with an open plan design and the flexibility to choose where the windows will be located.

Traditional houses with multiple isolated rooms have a lot more walls and corridors to ruin air flow and natural ventilation. If you're retrofitting or building a home with a traditional design, you will need more openable windows to ensure all the rooms are properly ventilated and comfortable.

Big windows work better

The least efficient part of any window, no matter its design, is the edge. That's where they lose the most heat. Consequently, you want to choose windows with the largest possible ratio of glazing to edge.

Traditional old-world designs with lots of small panes separated by frame are the worst culprits: every small pane of glass has an enormous amount of framework from which to lose heat and allow air transfer. If you really want to go for a divided look for your windows, consider buying single-pane frames and applying a grill or grid over the top.

It's also really important to make sure your windows are properly installed. Even the best energy-efficient windows won't help if the frame fits badly into the hole. Ensure that you use caulking, insulation or foam around the edges so that there's no space between the rough window space and the frame for air to seep through.

Block UV radiation

Sunlight is notorious for fading just about everything in a home: furniture, carpets, paintings, walls and a thousand other items all suffer. This is why so many art galleries have little natural lighting below ceiling level and some do not allow the use of flash photography.

While it is true that visible sunlight fades furnishings, the biggest culprit is UV radiation. Thankfully, most modern windows block 75% of UV light or more, by default. Make sure you check exactly how efficient your windows of choice are, though, especially if you're glazing large patio doors or expect sunlight to penetrate deep into your living space (as is ideal in passive solar houses).