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Plastic Window Energy Efficiency

October 10, 2010

Plastic windows? Though clear glass is the typical glazing material found in most windows, window panes can be made of plastic. And since windows can account for a quarter of your cooling and heating bill, you should know if plastic window energy efficiency will benefit your home.

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To understand how plastic can help with energy efficiency, you need to understand the basics of energy efficiency. The first factor of efficiency is how much heat (not from the sun) is gained or lost because of your window. The second factor is the heat from the sun shining through that window. The third factor is the airflow through an open window or the leakage from a closed window.

The most simple plastic storm windows made of plastic sheeting can boost your current windows' energy efficiency by creating a barrier of insulation that will help with both leakage and heat transference. Rigid storm windows made from acrylic, polycarbonate, plexiglass, or fiber-reinforced polyester can be fastened either to the inside or outside of a window's frame.

The glazing--or material in the window frame--is also available in plastics such as polyvinyl fluoride, polycarbonate, polyethylene, acrylic, and polyester. Plastics can be stronger, cheaper, easier to cut, and lighter than glass. Some plastics have higher solar transmittance, which can them less energy efficient depending on your geography. Plastic windows, however, tend to be less durable, particularly when it comes to the effects of weather. Plastic windows energy efficiency should be balanced with the overall cost, especially if you're considering window replacement or reglazing your current windows with plastic.

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