Air infiltration, condensation, your home and your windows

According to the National Fenestration Rating Council, heating and cooling account for up to 45 percent of a home’s energy costs­. That price tag has homeowners like you looking for ways to save money! Here’s a tip: reducing air infiltration and condensation keeps cash in your pocket.

One of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home is air infiltration reduction.

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Air infiltration — also referred to as air leakage — is one of the biggest factors to affect home energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that air leakage can impact as much as 40 percent of your heating and cooling costs.

You may consider window replacement when you see moisture on old, cold windows. Maybe your windows don’t open and close like they once did. You notice that the paint on wooden frames is peeling. The sills have rotted from years of condensation.

Not a pretty picture! Windows aging to the point of failure are a prime air infiltration culprit. They look terrible — sorry! — and leave your home drafty and cold.

Quality replacement windows are a great way to improve energy efficiency and reduce condensation on your windows.

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What exactly is air infiltration? Can you make your home more energy efficient with the right replacement windows? Let’s take a look.

How to reduce air infiltration

Air infiltration is the air that enters your home through cracks and gaps at windows, doors, wall joints, ducts and vents.

Did you know? The National Park Service notes that as much as one-fifth of home air infiltration comes through windows and doors.

Air infiltration increases your energy costs. It also leaves your home drafty and uncomfortable, especially during winter months. Installing the right replacement windows helps reduce home air infiltration.

Man in air infiltration blog post

What to know about replacement windows and air infiltration:

1. AL is the air-leakage (air infiltration) rating of a window. You want a low AL number — lower AL means that less air is passing through the window assembly.

The AL must be 0.30 or less to qualify for Energy Star certification. All Energy Star products will have an Energy Star label that lists the AL rating.

2. Window construction and installation affects energy performance. Gas fill, coatings (glazes) and window styles all affect energy efficiency.

Did you know? Air leakage rates vary relative to the window operating type (fixed, casement, double-hung, sliding, etc.).

Your best bet: talk to a contractor that you trust. Check the ratings on the window label together. Make sure that the windows you buy meet the needs of your home.

3. Consider your location. The American Architectural Manufacturer’s Association (AAMA) notes that regional climate — and even window location — affects your window’s air infiltration potential.

Air infiltration graph

Did you know?  Energy Star performance criteria shows that three of our primary markets — Charlotte, N.C., Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg, Pa. — are in unique climate zones. Although Harrisburg and Charlotte are separated by just two states and less than 500 miles, our friends in Pennsylvania require the highest performance products to maintain the same level of energy efficiency as those in more moderate climates (like the Queen City).

Choose the rating that meets the needs of your climate when considering replacement window options.

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How to reduce condensation formation

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air runs into a cool surface. This meeting causes water to form. When condensation happens inside your home, you can end up mold issues or damage to structural elements like walls and windows.

Like air infiltration, you want to limit condensation whenever possible. Outside temps are low during the winter, it’s warm and humid inside and this can be a tough task.

The surfaces of old single-glazed or single-pane windows are the most likely places to see condensation form in your home. Touch the surface on a cold day — much cooler than your walls, right? You can understand why condensation forms when moist air hits these cold windows.

Did you know? Condensation-resistant replacement windows are designed to minimize or eliminate window moisture. This protects the window and surrounding surfaces from water damage.

What to know about condensation-resistant replacement windows:

Ocean view for the air infiltration blog post

1. Condensation ratings, explained. Window condensation resistance factor (CRF) and condensation resistance ratings are two examples of condensation ratings. These ratings measure the ability of the interior pane of the window to resist condensation. A higher number means greater condensation resistance.

2. Condensation resistance is an added bonus for your windows. Condensation-resistance rated replacement windows prevent moisture issues. New window technologies like low-E glazing, insulating spacers and argon gas fill keep the interior window surface from absorbing the cold outside temperatures.

Did you know? A warmer interior pane is less likely to generate interior condensation because the interior glass temperature isn’t so different from the interior air temperature.

3. Condensation can still form on windows and other surfaces if the humidity level in your home is too high. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a relative indoor humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent. This level of humidity maintains comfort levels but prevents mold or other moisture damage.

Is the humidity in your home too high?

Beautiful home photo for our air infiltration blog post

If the humidity in your home is too high, you can take a few steps to get moisture under control:

  • Improve Ventilation. Add exhaust systems to high-humidity areas like bathrooms and kitchens. The moisture that evaporates during cooking and the steam from your showers can quickly raise humidity levels in your home.
  • Use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are especially helpful for controlling moisture in damp spaces like basements.
  • Open drapes and blinds. Excess moisture gets trapped between window dressings and the window surface, creating the perfect opportunity for condensation. Opening coverings allows needed moisture to stay in the air where it makes breathing more comfortable.

Do you need replacement windows?

Windows used to be little more than a piece of glass surrounded by wooden trim. Not anymore! Our ultra-modern Quantum2 Heat Mirror® windows give your home the energy efficiency, security and aesthetics that you demand — and pricing starts as low as $99 a month.

Let’s talk about your window. If you live in the Washington, D.C., Maryland or Northern Virginia region, call us at 1-866-328-1187 or get a price today.

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