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Looking at Window Coatings

Did you know that new coatings on today's high-tech replacement windows can actually preserve the colors and fabrics in your carpets and furnishings? The Efficient Windows Collaborative says that low-emissivity (low-E) coatings on your new or replacement windows can do just that. At the same time, low-E coatings can lower the U-factor of the window, making it a better insulator that's resistant to heat loss in winter. U-factor is an important measure that informs you about how much heat transfers through a window. According to Energy Star, U-factors are typically between .25 to 1.25, and the optimal number often varies by climate.

If you thought that in choosing low-e coatings you'll end up with blue windows, think again. Energy-efficient coatings on contemporary windows are not like the black, chrome, or blue Windows that you see on passenger cars. The metallic oxide layers that are applied to the glass surface on energy efficient windows or on the area between multiple layers of glass are almost undetectable to the human eye.

Behind the New Window Technology

Low-e coatings are spectrally selective, meaning that they block harmful rays, while admitting just the right amount of sunlight into your home. The coatings do their best work when combined with gas (argon) fills in between your window panes. High-solar-gain coatings and fills are best for cold climates, where they block loss of heat from your home but admit warming rays. Low-solar-gain coatings work best in hot climates, where they have a greater impact on reducing heat from the outdoors.

The low-solar-gain windows may have a slight, visible tint to them. But they certainly are not blue windows! Much more significant is the energy saving qualities of modern Energy Star rated windows. Do your own research and confirm that modern replacement windows have a valuable place in your home.