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Energy Efficient Windows: What You Need to Know

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What Are Energy Efficient Windows

What are energy efficient windows and how can they benefit you? Modern windows contain features that prevent heat from escaping your house in the winter and prevent heat from entering your house in the summer.  They work using various constructions that improve insulation and an assortment of treatments to the outside or inside glass that can reflect or block heat or sunlight from crossing the window barrier.  Several benefits can be obtained by having energy efficient windows installed in your home by a trained professional.  The most obvious and financially rewarding benefit is reducing power usage of heating and cooling systems.  This results in a sizable reduction in power bills during the more expensive peak seasons of winter and summer.  Another potential benefit gained from an upgrade to your windows is fixing any leaks that allow outside air and moisture to enter your walls.  This could potentially prevent structural issues down the line and more immediately things like mold growth.  

The amount of savings you will see on your monthly power bill will depend on how out of date the windows you are replacing are. The style, type and treatments of the windows you install will also affect your savings.  Our experts can work with you to determine how much you could reduce your monthly bill.  There are also tax credits for some energy efficient windows.  Given enough time the cost of installing new windows can pay for itself, which isn’t always the case with home improvement projects.

Energy Efficient Window Options

There are a host of options when it comes to energy efficient windows, let’s take a look at some of them and how they work so you can make better informed decisions when the time comes to upgrade.  The first option to navigate is the construction of the window glass.  The windows are insulated by using multiple panes of glass and replacing most of the air in between them with a more dense clear gas that is less heat conductive than air.  The glass incorporates either two or three panes depending on the requirements of your home and geographical location.  There are a few types of gas used to fill the void in between the panes, Argon is the most popular option and a suitable choice for most homes in the continental US.  Argon is 38% more dense than air and a much better insulator.  Krypton and Xenon are also used in more specialized settings such as extreme climates in the case of Krypton, or specific industrial solutions in the case of Xenon, as it is cost prohibitive and generally more insulation than required for smaller applications.

Treatments to the glass surface complete the energy efficiency of a window.  These treated windows are known as Low-E glass.  Low-e is short for low emissivity and essentially it blocks UV and infrared light from passing through the window while allowing the regular light through.  To accomplish this ultra thin see through coatings are applied to the glass to stop the sun from heating up your dwelling.

Framing Material selection

The material you choose to frame your windows with will not only impact the energy efficiency of your house but also its appearance.  There are several options for framing material that include aluminum, wood, vinyl, and fiberglass as well as hybrids like wood/clad and wood/vinyl composites.   While wood has a nice curb appeal and good thermal properties, it requires regular maintenance and can be subject to water absorption in humid or wet climates.  Aluminum is good at water resistance, but not a good thermal insulator.  Hybrid options come with their own problems like a higher chance of leaks.  We recommend only vinyl and fiberglass frames for our windows because they are weather resistant, provide good protection against heat transfer, and are low maintenance. Vinyl is the more economical option and is widely used across the industry but not all vinyl is created equal and attention should be paid to the construction of these frames.  Our System Boreal Viny is engineered to provide superior sound abatement and impact resistance as well as resistance to thermal transfer by incorporating a honeycomb construction instead of hollow foam filled sections.  Fiberglass frames can be made thinner due to being more rigid and are also available in darker colors than vinyl made possible by its better heat resistance.  They can be the right choice to maximize the glass area of the window or for exterior designs where a black or darker window frame is preferable.

Comparing Energy Efficient Windows

Now that you have a good idea which materials you want your new windows to be made from, let’s take a look at the two metrics commonly used to rate the energy efficiency of a window.  U-Value (also known as U-Factor) and Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).


U-Value is a representation of the thermal transfer rate of hot to cold on opposite sides of a window.  For windows the U-Value range is generally 0.1 -1.2 with lower numbers representing better insulation or for our purposes better energy efficiency.


SHGC is measured on a scale of 0 – 1 and represents the ability of the window to resist the radiation from sunlight.  Again a lower number is preferable as it represents higher resistance to the heat and UV produced by the sun.

Using these metrics you can compare one window vs another and combine that information with knowledge of framing materials, and requirements of your location to find a window that can make your home more comfortable and leave money in your wallet every month.

With so many different decisions to make, it’s perfectly understandable to feel a little overwhelmed when trying to choose between the amount of panes, gas insulator, window treatments, and framing options.  That’s why we have knowledgeable and experienced staff available to help answer your questions, provide you with estimates, and take care of you all the way through the install process to ensure you make informed decisions and maximize the value of your investment. 

Gilkey Reviews

Joe VyskocilJoe Vyskocil ★★★★★ We recently used Gilkey to replace all the windows in a house we own in Buffalo Grove. From start to finish we were impressed with their professionalism, service and quality.Response from the ownerThank you so much for your 5 star review. James PappaJames Pappa ★★★★★ Gilkey was very professional and explained all the details and option for an entryway door. The installers did an excellent job and the door and side lights look great. There pricing very fair for their high quality products.Tessa AndersonTessa Anderson ★★★★★ We received an extremely high level of customer service with both the purchase and install of our new patio doors. We would absolutely utilize Gilkey again!Response from the ownerThank you, Tessa! We're grateful for your kind words and are glad to hear that you had a great experience with both the purchase and installation of your new patio doors. We appreciate your business and would be thrilled to assist you again in the future! Annie KitchenAnnie Kitchen ★★★★★ I had a very positive experience! Matt was very helpful with answering questions and worked to get me the best price for the best product. I got updates as my door was in manufacturing and Jeff who installed was very nice and competent in what he does. 10/10 would recommendResponse from the ownerThank you, Annie! We appreciate your kind words and are glad to hear that Matt and Jeff provided you with excellent service. We strive to offer the best prices and products to our customers. Thank you for recommending us! Laura PriceLaura Price ★★★★☆ We are very happy with the look and quality of our new Gilkey sliding door. The installation team was easy to work with, very skilled, and did an excellent job making the finished product look great! The project did take longer than expected and missed our holiday deadline, but overall we are very pleased with the results and would recommend using Gilkey to others.Response from the ownerThank you, Laura! We're thrilled you love the look and quality of your Gilkey sliding door. We appreciate your feedback on the installation process and apologize for any delay. Your recommendation means a lot, and we're glad you're pleased with the results! Rebecca BestRebecca Best ★★★★★ Very well done by professional staff.Highly recommend to anyone looking for new doors.Response from the ownerThank you, Rebecca! We're pleased to hear you had a positive experience with our professional staff. Your recommendation means a lot to us. Much appreciated! Feel free to reach out for any future door needs. Mary SchneiderMary Schneider ★★★★★ Very expensive, but the workmanship and quality of the doors is excellent!The install for both doors went well no problems at all.Response from the ownerThank you so much for your 5 star review. Louise KramLouise Kram ★★★★★ The door is beautiful, easy to open, lockThanksResponse from the ownerThank you so much for your 5 star review and enjoy your new door! Kim KlumpKim Klump ★★★★★ Love our new doors because of the quality and look! Install was on time and left the area clean. In addition, he did a wonderful job redoing the trim. We didn’t have to do anything. It couldn’t have been easier!Response from the ownerThank you for the 5-star review, your feedback is greatly appreciated! Enjoy your new doors! Thomas ReddickThomas Reddick ★★★★★ We love our Gilkey slider door! It's solid and great looking. The entire team was very professional, and they did a high quality build and install. Thanks much Gilkey!Response from the ownerThank you for the 5 star review, your feedback is greatly appreciated ! Jerry AlterJerry Alter ★★★★☆ Andrew installed my new front door. He was very professional and took his time to do it correctly. I did call the day after install as I noticed light coming in at the bottom right hand side of the door. I was told someone from service would call me but as of today I have not heard from anyone.Response from the ownerThank you for the feedback, we will have service reach out to you folks asap. Casey RiceCasey Rice ★★★★★ I worked with Tom S. as my representative and Brian C. as my installer. I couldn’t have been more pleased with both sides of the experience. I reside in a home that was built in 1876 and I needed full replacement of 3 outside doors & door frames, I was not looking forward to the process.Gilkey was my 3rd effort at having someone come look at it. Should’ve been my first. The way Tom would make sure he understood everything I wanted, to fielding my calls when I had another question and not hesitating to ask someone (Brian) if he didn’t have an answer, along with great follow up.Brian C. was quite a talent. It was so refreshing to have someone work on your home that paid that much attention to detail, commitment to a well done job as if their own and preserving the aesthetic of a home built in 1876, incredible. Well done, Brian. Well done.Tom S. & Brian C. knocked it out of the park for me with every aspect of the project, especially when it seems so hard to find anymore. Thank you, it was a pleasure working with you both and Gilkey.Response from the ownerThank you for your 5-star review, Casey! We're thrilled to hear that Tom and Brian provided you with an exceptional experience. We're proud to have them on our team and we'll be sure to pass along your kind words. It was a pleasure working with you and we appreciate your business. js_loader
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