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4 Things to Consider When Buying Energy Efficient Windows and Doors

Stay comfortable this winter in Des Moines with stronger energy efficiency.

As temperatures get colder and days get shorter, it’s a great time to switch to energy efficient windows and doors. Stronger energy efficiency in your home not only reduces your carbon footprint and saves you money on utility bills, it can make your home more comfortable. Keep that nagging chill outside. You and your family can stay warm and cozy while you watch your favorite holiday movies inside. With energy efficient windows and doors, you can enjoy as much warmth from the sunlight as the day offers from your home.

But do you know what to look for when switching to energy efficient windows? Not all energy efficient windows are equally efficient, and some will last longer than others. Here are a few factors to help you find the best energy efficient windows and doors for your home.


In winter, insulation is one of the most desired qualities of energy efficient windows and doors. On cold nights, you want to keep the heat inside your home from leaking out. Things like a good seal and weather proofing can help insulation, but certain materials can also strengthen your home’s insulation. For instance, fiberglass is incredibly energy efficient, and fiberglass doors (made to look like wood) are rising in popularity for this very reason. Strong vinyl windows, like our Lotus window line with fiberglass reinforcement, or our Nirvana window line with metal reinforcement can also offer secure insulation.

When it comes to energy efficient windows, many use multiple panes with gas fillings in between those panes. The point of these types of windows is to slow the flow of air from inside to outside, preventing drafts and window condensation. Most window contractors use krypton or argon gas fillings, but argon is more common because of its excellent thermal properties and its affordability. Both gas fillings are non-toxic.


There might not be much light outside at this time of year, but you want to fill your home with as much light as you can, both for energy efficiency and for morale. The lack of exposure to natural sunlight during summer is famous for having a negative impact on emotional health. Sunlight helps us to feel motivated, energized, and focused. Without it, it’s easy to feel lethargic and sad. So naturally, it’s important to have energy efficient windows that offer strong Visible Transmittance (VT). VT is a measure used by the National Fenestration Ratings Council to judge how much light an energy efficient window lets in.

Often, the amount of light that the window lets into your home has as much to do with the position of the window as it does the quality of the glass. For instance, many homeowners use awning windows placed high on the wall to daylight their home, allowing light to pour down into the room. When it comes to doors, larger, more transparent entry windows can brighten up your entry. Patio doors can also be a great addition to your home at any time of year if the goal is to let in more light.

In northern climates, Energy Star certified windows and doors will have lower U-factor to reduce heat loss and a slightly higher Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) to allow for more “heat gain” from the sun during the colder months.


Of course, the most energy efficient windows and doors aren’t worth much if they become irreparably damaged in the first bad winter storm. Durability has to be considered as well. At Zen Windows, all of our energy efficient windows have fusion welded frames and sashes for durability. Fiberglass is a popular choice for entry doors because it doesn’t warp or rot like wood. Steel doors tend to be the most durable. Wood that’s been properly treated and weather proofed can still hold its own in a storm and last for decades to come but tends to be the most expensive.


Style might not seem too important when it comes to energy efficiency, but it is important when it comes to your home. You want your entry door to make an elegant impression on your guests when they enter your home. You want your windows to fit with the aesthetics of your home. Wood doors have a classic look, while steel doors look more sleek and modern. Fiberglass doors offer something in between. Casement windows or large picture windows can offer terrific outdoor views as well as excellent efficiency, and concave windows like bay or bow windows are perfect if you want to set up a breakfast nook or just a ledge to plant herbs. Find the style that works best for your home.

At Zen Windows Des Moines, we’re experts in the area of energy efficient windows and doors. We can help you compare our windows and doors side-by-side based on these four factors and more. Call us today at (515) 207-8789 or contact us online for a free quote.