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What Makes an Energy Efficient Window?

It may seem like a simple answer, but when it comes down to it there are really several qualities that dub a window to be “energy efficient”.  Yes, the easy explanation would be that an energy efficient window is one that reduces the amount of energy used in your household by a noticeable amount; however, we’re here to discuss what it is exactly that allows our window replacements to qualify as being not only energy efficient, but also Energy Star certified for Tucson homes.

So what is it exactly that makes our Tucson window replacements worth the investment, besides the fact that you’ll be saving major bucks on your energy bills?

Well, we’ll start from the outside – with the actual window frame itself – and move inward as we discuss the various features of an energy efficient window.


Energy efficiency starts with quality window frame materials. According to, “[there are] a variety of durable, low-maintenance framing materials [that] reduce heat transfer and help insulate better.” These framing materials include: fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, wood, composite, or a combination of any of those just listed.

– Fiberglass frames tend to be the strongest and most durable of the options, while still providing superior insulation. These can come hollowed out or filled with foam for extra insulation.

– Vinyl frames, though not as durable as fiberglass, still provide excellent thermal insulation and in some cases are reinforced with metal or wood.

– A more typical framing choice for the Tucson environment is aluminum. Aluminum frames offer durability, reduced conductive heat loss, and are amongst the simplest when it comes to maintenance. Additionally, aluminum frames may cost slightly less due to the fact that they generally consist of 15% or more recycled material.

– Wooden frames are often used to retain a more authentic look to a structure; however, many homes do use wood frames clad with aluminum or vinyl in order to reduce maintenance on what can otherwise be a rather “touchy” frame, especially in extreme weather conditions.

– Then comes composite and combination frames, both of which involve the use of several quality materials, the difference being that composite frames are actually a mix of the elements combined to make one material, where as combination frames are just that – a combination of one material for the exterior and another material for the actual frame filling (the interior).

Next comes…


By definition a spacer “keeps a window’s glass panes the correct distance apart.” That’s not all they do though. also states that, “non-metallic and metal/non-metal hybrid spacers also insulate pane edges, reducing heat transfer through the window.”

You can be assured that your window replacements from American Openings Windows will include only the highest quality spacers. These are put in place for extra insulation purposes, but really they are set in place to compliment the next feature of our energy efficient windows, which is…


American Openings uses multiple panes when custom manufacturing your windows for one main reason: “two panes of glass, with an air – or gas – filled space in the middle, insulate MUCH better than a single pane of glass.” Better yet, “some Energy Star qualified windows include THREE OR MORE panes for even greater energy efficiency, increased impact resistance, and sound insulation,” (

Being that American Openings Windows manufactures top quality, Energy Star certified windows, you can be sure that your new window replacements won’t come equipped with just one measly pane, but instead two or more panes enhanced with…


You may or may not have read our previous blog on low-e windows, but if you didn’t the quick definition is that low-e glass has, “special coatings [that] reflect infrared light, keeping heat inside in the winter and outside in summer.”  As a bonus, “they also reflect damaging ultraviolet light, which helps protect interior furnishings from fading,” (

American Openings custom manufactures window replacements laced with low-e window coatings that are specifically for Tucson homes. Our low-e windows offer the LOWEST solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC).

What’s that mean for you? Here’s the thing: in Tucson, homeowners are battling a truly brutal amount of heat, so the most important thing when you’re having your windows replaced is that your replacements are going to reduce solar heat gain as much as possible. Since our window replacements offer the lowest SHGC you can be sure that you’ll be saving more energy, and money, with our windows compared to our competitors’.

But wait, there’s still more…


Often times instead of filling that space between your low-e window panes with just regular air, “some energy efficient windows have argon, krypton, or other gases between the panes.” Energy Star explains the reasoning behind this: “these odorless, colorless, non-toxic gases insulate better than regular air.”

These slower moving gases reduce thermal conductivity in your windows in order to prevent them from absorbing and resonating heat waves that might otherwise be reflected and kept out of (or in) your home. In other words, the gas fillings help to keep your windows from capturing too much heat, which could – on a sizzling day – cause extra, unnecessary heat to resonate into your home.

If you’re still a bit confused as to what gives our window replacements top quality energy efficiency here’s the actual diagram Energy Star provides that might help you to better visualize each of the components we’ve discussed above:

Anatomy of an Energy Efficient Window

For more information: American Openings’ Windows energy-efficiency ratings

One response to “What Makes an Energy Efficient Window?”

  1. Hi,
    Great post, I concur completely and appreciate the time you took to write it. Cheers! this is a nice website. I’m forever looking for blogs similar to this. Carry on the nice effort!

Contact American Openings during normal business hours at (520) 664-1202.


6885 E. Southpoint Road
Tucson, Arizona 85756
Phone: (520) 664-1202
Toll-Free: (800) 430-3385