Sunblock for Your Home: Unseen Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows and Doors

When it comes to protecting your home from the damaging effects of the sun, what you can't see - invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays - can definitely impact you.

Thankfully, there's an easy and practical solution that provides built-in "sunblock" for the home.

Most homeowners know that upgrading windows and doors can help them save money and conserve energy. However, a lesser-known benefit of energy efficient windows and doors is their proven resistance to harmful UV rays. For example, windows and doors with Low-E glass block most UV rays - the invisible part of the spectrum that causes premature fading of furnishings and is linked to health hazards like skin cancer. That's because the coating on Low-E glass both absorbs heat and reflects the sun's light back into the outdoors.

For the ultimate in UV protection and energy efficiency, windows with laminated glass can block almost all harmful UV rays. Laminated glass has an interlayer sandwiched between two window panes. This gives windows the strength needed to stand up to impacts caused by storms, and it also filters the sun's light, admitting the desirable, visible spectrum and blocking harmful, invisible UV rays.

"Homeowners are becoming increasingly sensitive to interior fading and wear and tear," said Brian Hedlund, product marketing manager for JELD-WEN windows. "It's not only because they want to keep the carpet and drapes from fading, but also because UV exposure is perceived as an increasing health hazard."

While UV resistance is a valuable collateral benefit of energy efficient windows and doors, there are practical benefits too. Savings for a typical home from replacing single-pane with Energy Star qualified windows ranges from $125 to $340 a year, depending on the region, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

For homeowners and builders, here are a few basic tips for selecting energy efficient windows and doors.

1. Consider upgrading outdated windows and doors. Replace older single-pane windows with dual-pane units, which insulate the home from both hot and cold weather. Using both Low-E and insulating glass will reduce home energy costs.

2. Make Low-E glass a must-have. That's because Low-E glass on windows, door transoms and sidelights controls solar heat gain - a major contributor to air-conditioning costs. Low-E glass can also protect against heat loss in the winter.

3. Don't overlook the role of doors in contributing to energy efficiency. Choose doors with energy efficient cores and sills, and frames that provide a barrier to energy exchange.

4. Focus on efficiency, not bells and whistles. Window manufacturers achieve efficiency in different ways, from Low-E glass to argon gas-filled insulating glass. The bottom line is to make sure the products are tested and rated for efficiency using industry standards, no matter what technology is employed. Look for the Energy Star label appropriate for your region.

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600450 Sunblock for Your Home: Unseen Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
Date: 21 August 2006

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