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September 8, 2020
More homeowners have become conscious of their impact on the environment as time has gone on. And many are looking for more ways to decrease that impact as much as possible. One of the ways we do this is by using eco-friendly building materials, fixtures, and features in our homes. Eco-friendly windows are one example that can make a significant difference. But what if I told you that your windows may not be as environmentally helpful as you think?
What constitutes eco-friendly?
For anything to be considered environmentally safe, it should not just reduce harm to the planet but cause no harm to it at all. If something is eco-friendly during use, but cannot be repurposed or completely disposed of later, it isn’t really eco-friendly. If something helps pull down emissions but ends up in a landfill later, it isn’t eco-friendly. And if something helps with energy efficiency but has emissions of its own—you guessed it—it’s not eco-friendly! Are you seeing the trend?
Look for home improvements to help save energy and go green. For something to be truly eco-friendly, it must have no negative impact on the environment from its manufacturing, its use, or disposal and repurposing. So, energy efficiency, low emissivity, water-saving, degradability: these are the golden words to run.
How to tell if your windows are eco-friendly
Many companies claim the materials and installations they sell you are eco-friendly when they’re really not. It’s important to choose companies that don’t skip on the important stuff and offer high quality products. There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating the environmental impact of new windows for your home.
For your windows to be green, the framing needs to be both low-transfer and sustainable. Low-transfer refers to the insulation it provides to your home, helping it keep heat out in the summer and heat in during the winter for more efficient heating and air conditioning.
Sustainable materials can be reused, recycled, or disposed of in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment. The best materials to achieve this are wood, vinyl, and aluminum. None of these are particularly expensive and they all do a great job and can still look amazing.
Regular glass simply doesn’t cut it as an option for environmentally friendly windows. Glass needs to be double, or triple paned. It also needs to be insulated with inert gases that are environmentally safe. These gases in the glass help prevent heat transfer. They’re a major factor in maintaining steady indoor temperatures and saving on your energy bill. The coating must also be eco-friendly and non-emissive. Some coating materials give off unhealthy emissions that can be detrimental to the environment, as well as your family.
Fittings & hardware
Windows are more than frames and glass. They come with clips, handles, locks, slides, and other hardware that help determine how they work. A truly eco-friendly window includes these details made from eco-friendly material, too. It may seem like a small detail, but on the scale of every window for every home across the country, it really starts to matter in a big way. This is also true for your doors, siding, fences, and more, not just your windows.
Installation is a huge factor
Even if everything about your windows makes the earth want to smile, the way they’re installed can be counter productive. Frames and panes must be absolutely air-tight and unable to allow heat to pass through. If this is not done, the energy efficiency of your window will be lost.
Ensure you run your windows and other home installations, remodeling projects and updates—like that kitchen renovation on your wishlist—through these filters to see how eco-friendly they really are. And don’t stop there. There are tons of ways to boost your home’s efficiency and reduce its footprint. Running an efficient, low-cost, eco-friendly home is within reach!