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Choosing the Right Window Insulation Can Help Cut Your Energy Bills

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The desire to cut a home's carbon footprint has been the motivation for many people to install window insulation in recent years.
Anyone who has taken the step will also have noticed a more tangible immediate benefit in the form of lower energy usage and fuel bills.
Reducing heating bills has never been more important for most families, thanks to the twin pressures of the precarious economic conditions and soaring energy prices.
One way to do it is simply to have your heating on less often, but as the depths of winter approach, that simply isn't a practical choice for most people.
A more effective and long-lasting solution is to improve your property's energy efficiency with some green home improvements.
There are lots of choices for this, but the projects most likely to have a substantial impact on your energy usage are installing window, wall and loft insulation.
One of the places where you lose most heat from your home is via the windows, pushing up your energy bills unnecessarily.
Although it is impossible to eradicate heat loss from windows completely, fitting double glazing can help to keep it to a minimum and although the initial outlay may seem large, having the work done will save you money in the long run.
Figures published by the Energy Saving Trust show that replacing single glazing with double in an average home will reduce the heating bill by £130 a year, as well as cutting annual CO2 emissions by 650kg.
Double glazing works because the gap between the two panes acts as an insulating barrier that stops some of the heat escaping through the glass.
There is now a wide range of different double glazing products on the market, with some a lot more effective at reducing heat loss than others.
Before making a decision about what kind of windows you want to install it is a good idea not only to shop around for a good deal, but also to find out about the easiest ways of comparing the energy-efficient properties of the glazing products.
One thing you need to be aware of when searching for the best double glazing is the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) ratings scheme.
Assessors test the glass and other components, such as frames and pane spacers, before giving the product a mark on an A-G scale.
Aim to buy glazing in the A-C range, as this will be the most effective in cutting heat loss and improving noise insulation.
Most of the double glazing in the A-C range will be made with low-emissivity or Low-E glass.
This is manufactured by coating one side of one of the panes with metal oxide.
The coating allows sunlight and heat from outside in, but is hugely effective in restricting the amount of heat that escapes from the room.
The Low-E glass is generally used in conjunction with special warm-edge spacers to keep the two panes apart.
The space between the two pieces of glass is then filled with a colourless, stable gas - such as argon or xenon - that acts as an effective insulating barrier to cut heat loss.
Even the most energy-efficient windows should be available in a variety of different frames.
It is possible to purchase double glazing with uPVC, aluminium or wood frames - the latter may be particularly useful if you live in a conservation area.
If you are at all unsure about what type of windows to choose, a firm of professional glaziers should be able to give you some advice about the right products for your home.
The expert will also be able to guide you through all the relevant rules related to double glazing.
For example, there are strict building regulations about windows and you also need to think about whether there will be any planning or listed building issues.
There is also the issue of building control approval to consider if you plan to install the windows yourself.
While it is possible to fit windows as a DIY project, it is a skilled job and it is better to use a trained installer, who will ensure it is done to the best possible standard and that you gain the maximum possible cuts in your energy bills.
Finding a reputable windows specialist in your area can be difficult, but using a tradesman recommendation service can help.
You can also find out if they are qualified by checking whether they are registered with the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme or Certass Glazing Scheme.
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