Don’t Replace Your Old Windows With Low-E Glass (Here’s What You Can Do Instead)

Don’t Replace Your Old Windows With Low-E Glass (Here’s What You Can Do Instead)

Imagine losing $1000 from your income every single year.

For most American households, that’s roughly how much it will cost to heat and cool their home for the year.

That adds up, especially when every dollar counts.

It’s no surprise that people are looking for ways to save on energy costs.

Typically, windows are the worst energy culprits on any given house.

Heat gain and heat loss through windows account for between 25%-30% of a home’s energy use for heating and cooling.

If a window has failing seals, it will perform even worse.

Even the type of the window frame can affect energy performance.

If the window frame is made from a material that is a poor insulator, such as aluminum, it can create what’s known as a thermal bridge and conduct heat from inside the house to outside. 

One inefficient window can lose as much heat as 10 to 20 times what an insulated wall would lose.

Even if your window is new and well sealed, it could still be the cause for a lot of energy use in your home.

Solar energy is still able to pass through glass, so even an insulated window can heat up a room quickly if it gets a lot of sun.

In the dead heat of summer, having even just one window or skylight that gets a lot of sun exposure can mean the AC is running all day just to cool the room off.

So What Can Be Done?

The most common recommendation to make old windows more energy efficient is to replace them entirely with new, low-e windows.

Low-e windows are windows that have been treated with a film that reflects solar heat while still letting natural light pass through.

With less solar heat entering the home, the AC no longer has to work as hard to keep the house cool.

The less energy the AC uses, the more savings there are for the homeowner.

Is replacing old windows with new ones worth the cost?

There will be energy savings from replacing old windows with new, low-e glass windows but it comes with a substantial upfront cost.

The National Association of Realtors estimates the cost of replacing every window in a 2,450 square foot house to be around $19,000.

For a household trying to save money in energy bills, that’s a very large investment with a slow return.

What are some more cost effective alternatives to replacing an old window?

The most important thing to do with old windows is stop any exchange of air between the inside and outside of your house.

For drafty windows, using a product like rope caulk to seal up any holes can make a major improvement.

Plastic film insulation is another popular and effective solution for sealing up older windows.

Both options are inexpensive and simple enough for anyone to apply.

For windows that get a lot of sun exposure, a quick and easy way to make them more energy efficient is to mount exterior shade mesh on them (also called shade screen or solar screen/mesh/fabric).

There are a lot of different kinds of shade mesh available, but they all work by the same principle.

It’s a mesh fabric, and like low-e glass, it works by blocking solar heat and light, while still letting natural light through.

Unlike low-e glass, which is a film that’s been applied to the glass, solar mesh is installed on the exterior of the window.

Applying the shade screen to the outside of a window is key for it’s ability to keep a room cool.

If it’s applied to the inside of a window it will still work but not nearly as well.

If it’s mounted on the inside the screen will still provide shade from the sun, but the energy savings will be significantly less because the heat will be trapped inside the house.

If you are considering shade screens for your home and don’t know which one to choose, the easiest and best option is EZ Snap.

They sell do-it-yourself kits that let you mount and cut your mesh to your window, no matter it’s size or shape.

EZ Snap is also a fraction of the cost of what you would pay to buy and install new windows.

You save on the price of the product, and because you are able to install it yourself, you save on labor as well.

EZ Snap shade screen is also better at blocking solar heat than low-e glass.

The effectiveness of heat blocking applications for windows is measured by the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC).

The SHGC is the amount of solar radiation (heat) that transmits through a window.

It’s measured between 0 and 1, and the less solar heat that transmits through a window, the lower a window’s SHGC number is going to be.

There are a lot of low-e glass makes and models, but the range of SHGC for most of them from varies between 0.60 – 0.25. 

Shade mesh from EZ Snap has a SHGC of .18.

Something else to consider is that low-e windows are known to damage turf and siding.

In the right conditions, the solar heat that they reflect can focus into a hot spot creating a magnifying glass effect that melts anything in its path.

The problem is becoming so rampant with the rising popularity of low-e windows that one scientist is calling them, “the next asbestos.”

If you or your neighbor has a low-e window that is damaging property, EZ Snap is also the ideal solution.

Rather than replace the entire window, installing EZ Snap window shade over the problem window provides a fast and effective fix.

The solar heat is reflected off of the mesh before it ever reaches the window, preventing any chance of a hot spot forming.

The result is 100 percent effective and can be installed in as little as an afternoon.

An added benefit to an exterior shade product like EZ Snap is that it’s also removable. So, when the winter months come you can take it off and benefit from the natural heating you get with the sun.

It’s like getting free heat in the winter.

No matter which window option you choose to make your home more energy efficient, it’s important to do your research before making a final decision. 

You want to make sure that you are going to be getting the maximum return for your investment.

Replacing your windows might be worth the cost, or it might make more sense to invest in solutions that are able to make your existing windows more energy efficient.

 

How To Choose Between Foil Insulation And Shade Screen

How To Choose Between Foil Insulation And Shade Screen

If you have a window that gets a lot of sun you likely also have a room that gets so hot it could double as an oven.

For those who want to cut down the heat, using air conditioning can be expensive and loud. Black-out drapes usually block more light than heat, and fans can only do so much. The two most common choices for people who want a low cost A/C alternative are foil insulation and shade screens.

But which one to choose?

We’ve provided a quick breakdown of both to help you decide what will work best for you.

To insulate or not to insulate?

Foil Insulation

Foil Insulation

If you are considering going the foil insulation route it’s best to know how it works. Foil, or reflective, insulation essentially functions like a mirror that reflects light and heat out of a given space.

Typically, it’s used on windows that get a lot of sun exposure.

Having just one window that gets a lot of sun can cause the room temperature to soar on a sunny day. Foil insulation can be cut to size and placed over it as an effective heat blocking measure.

For it to work effectively it must be hung on the outside of the window and it has to completely cover it. Unfortunately, this also means covering up your view and finding a way to attach it to the outside of your house or RV (usually tape). 

If the foil is placed on the inside, it means that sunlight is hitting the window and heat will still be able to get into the room as a result. The key to keeping a room cool is making sure the heat stays on the outside of the glass because once heat gets in it’s hard to dissipate.

If you have double pane windows, placing foil insulation on the inside of the glass may cause the window seal to fail.

The reason for this is that the foil is reflecting heat back through the glass panes causing it to super heat. If there is a sudden change in temperature, like a cloud covering the sun, the stress from the metal expanding and contracting rapidly can cause the seal to fail.

RV with Foil Insulation

RV with foil insulation taped over windows

It’s the same principle for why applying tint on a window will void the manufacturers warranty.

Foil insulation can also be an eyesore. Having it attached to your window also means you are are essentially hanging a big piece of tinfoil to your home or RV all summer.

Despite these drawbacks, foil insulation remains a popular choice because it’s cheap and effective.

If you are thinking of going with foil, Reflectix is generally considered one of the best brands in terms of value for quality.

What about Shade Screens?

Shade screen is a fabric that is designed to be placed over a window and provide shade. Just like the foil insulation it works best when attached to the outside of your window.

There’s a lot of different varieties of shade screens on the market, so if you’re planning on purchasing shade screen know that they are not all created equal.

There’s a lot of different brands out there and it can be hard to feel like you’re picking the right one. Some have irregular or uneven weaves, or some will give you shade but you also won’t be able to see through it.

DIY RV Window Shades

RV with EZ Snap Window Shades

The best shade screen is from EZ Snap. It’s a patented product made from a non-fray mesh that blocks 90% of the sun’s heat. It’s also been designed to allow you to see out of it so you only block the heat, not the view.

EZ Snap is attached with a stick-on stud, so there’s no drilling and no holes left behind. The mesh snaps onto the studs, so it can be taken on and off without much hassle. What’s also great is that a kit from EZ Snap comes with everything you need to install your shade mesh, so no frantic trips to Home Depot needed.

When the EZ Snap mesh is hung it looks natural over a window, and while a lot of the heat is blocked, you still get a good amount of natural light coming through. 

Choosing between foil insulation and shade screen comes down to a matter of preference and appearance. If you are in need of a quick fix then foil will get you through. If you are wanting a more permanent solution that looks good, but still retains your view, then a product like EZ Snap shades is the answer.

How To Keep Your RV Cool This Summer

How To Keep Your RV Cool This Summer

Nothing beats the summer for getting out and enjoying your RV, but keeping your rig cool in the midday heat can be a challenge for even the most experienced traveler.

You might have an AC unit that is too loud, or boondocking, or maybe you don’t have AC at all. Fear not, we’ve compiled the top ten inexpensive ways to keep your RV cool without an air conditioner this summer.

1. Parking is everything

Be sure to park smart this summer. Where you park is the number one way to keep the heat down. Sidling up beside a nice lush tree will help keep one side of your RV cool, plus it’s doesn’t cost a thing.

Be aware of what side your RV is facing as well. The hottest part of the day is typically around 3 pm, so you want to try and keep as few windows exposed as possible to the afternoon sun.

2. Clean and be cool

Having good airflow in your RV is a key part of keeping it cool. Something that gets overlooked a lot is the dust and grime buildup in the areas behind and around your fridge and stove. If the airflow is inefficient then you will have heat flowing back into the RV, making for unhappy campers. Before your set out on your adventure, make sure to give those places a thorough clean.

3. Swap out those bulbs

When you’re trying to keep the temperature down every little thing counts, and this is one that doesn’t take much of an effort to do. If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, know that each one of those works like a tiny heat generator. For the power they consume, around 90% of it is expended as heat.

Switch those old bulbs over to LED light bulbs, they’ll give you the same amount of light but with a fraction of the heat.

4. Your biggest fan(s)

There are two ways to use your fans to cool down for those hot days and nights. During the day get those fans pointed right at you. Air that is moving feels cooler than air that is still, so you will at least get some relief with some fans blowing at you.

In the evening, when the air is cooler outside of your RV than inside, point your fans facing out the windows. This way you will be blowing the hot air out and at the same time drawing the cool air in. The more windows you can have open for an effective cross-breeze, the better.

5. Cook out

Try to cook the majority of your meals outside of your RV. Any time you fire up your oven you are generating a lot of heat that is hard to dissipate. Plus, who wants to cook in a sweltering hot room? Cook your meals outside, either over the fire or on a camp stove.

It may take a bit more work to haul your ingredients and cookware in and out of your RV, so try and make enough so you have leftovers and don’t have to cook every single meal.

6. Shade Screens are a dream

Usually the main heat culprit in your RV is your biggest window or windows. The sun’s rays come in through the glass and heat up the interior of your RV. Then, because the heat has nowhere to go, it just keeps getting hotter and hotter.

The key is to stop the sun from even getting through the glass, and EZ Snap Shade Screens are by far the easiest and best option for attaching shade to your RV. The best part is that they block the 90% of the heat but you can still see out of them, so you get to keep your view.

EZ Snap Exterior Blinds for RV Coach

RV with EZ Snap Shades

7. Tarp time

They may not be pretty but tarps are the Swiss Army Knife of any good RV’r. They’re inexpensive, they don’t take up a lot of space and they have a variety of uses. If there are any trees nearby you can try and attach your tarp across them to make some extra shade and cut down on the sun exposure to your RV.

8. Get on Google

Depending on the nature of your trip you may be planning your stops well in advance. Use Google Earth to scout your prospective stops to try and cherry pick the sites that will have the most shade. You will be glad you spent the extra time planning when the midday sun is out and you are relaxing in the shade from a nearby tree.

9. Night time is the right time (to cool down)

If your RV is like an oven during the day, the evening is the time to cool down not just yourselves, but your over-hot RV as well. Open up all those windows and turn those fans on.

Don’t forget to open your cupboards and storage bays, as those are places where heat can build up over the course of the day and can keep your RV uncomfortably hot if not aired out.

10. Skylight too bright

Your large windows may take all of the blame for the heat, but don’t forget about your skylight. They are notorious heat generators, and they can be a big reason why your RV is unbearable hot. Covering up your skylight is one of the best ways your can bring down the temperature in your RV this summer. Here’s a list of the top four ways to cover a hot skylight for under $100.

How To Block Skylight Heat – Top Four Fixes For Under $100

How To Block Skylight Heat – Top Four Fixes For Under $100

Need To Cover Your Hot Skylight?

Here’s How To Beat The Heat On A Budget

While they are known for keeping things bright, skylights also have a dark side.

With all the light they let it in skylights can heat up a room to the point where it becomes an abandoned part of your home.

The cause for your hot house is called the greenhouse effect: light comes in, heats up your room and then has nowhere else to go. Which would be fine if you were growing tomatoes in your living room, but chances are you’re not.

Even with the AC on max some rooms just can’t be cooled, and the sun’s rays can also cause your furniture and floors to fade.

We’ve compiled a list of the top four DIY ways to cool your skylight and get your house back.

 

1. Paint over your skylight

This one is as simple as it sounds. The key to cooling a hot skylight is to stop the sun before it gets through the glass.

If you can block the light, you can block the heat. Painting over your skylight will stop light from getting through and will keep for your house much cooler for just the cost of a can of paint.

The main drawback with painting your skylight is that it is a fairly permanent fix. Scraping paint off is time consuming and you will undoubtedly be left with more than a few scratches on your glass.

Depending on how hot your room is getting though, this may be a sacrifice you are willing to make.

 

2. Tarp it up

A quick and easy fix that is by far the cheapest of all your options. Simply buy a blue tarp that is several feet longer than your skylight. Lay it over top of the skylight so that it is completely covered and pin down the excess fabric using bricks. It’s a fast, cheap and easy skylight cover.

You’ll still get some ambient light coming through and most of the heat will be stopped, but expect your room to have a blue tinge.

Depending on how visible your skylight is from the street, you may also have the neighborhood eyesore on your roof all season. Once summer’s over, it’s only a matter of picking up the bricks and rolling up your tarp and you get your skylight back without a whole lot of trouble.

 

3. Board it up

This method requires the most amount of skill, but it’s the only one that doesn’t involve a trip to the roof. You will need to buy and cut a piece of foam insulation board that will fit snugly into your skylight shaft opening.

Then, along the outside of the insulation board attach weather stripping. This will ensure a tight fit that you can push in or take out depending on the weather.

This one make take some trial and error as you will need to cut the foam board to just the right size so it is just big enough to squeeze into the opening and effectively pinning itself in place.

The biggest drawback with this method is that you are now trapping all the heat between the skylight and the insulation. This heat can build up to the point that your seals could fail or your glass could crack, so proceed with caution.

 

4. EZ Snap Skylight Shades

EZ Snap Raised Skylight Exterior Blinds

EZ Snap is a solar mesh that attaches to the outside of your skylight that is proven to block up to 90 percent of the sun’s heat. It still lets in lots of natural light, plus it’s affordable and a breeze to install. 

First, measure the size of your skylight and then order the appropriate kit from https://ezsnapdirect.com/products/skylight-shades/.

Once the kit comes, no special tools are needed to install. Simply attach your mounting studs to the frame and then attach the mesh to the studs using the pins and caps included in the kit. Once it’s on it can be left on all year round.

If you want some direct sun in those cooler months you can also easily unsnap the mesh and store it away until next year.

Whichever method you choose to combat your sizzling skylight, know that the US Department of Energy concluded that exterior blinds and shades are up to seven times more effective at stopping heat from entering the home than interior blinds or window tinting.