Consider what makes people’s homes such an important part of their lives. And now change that scope to one’s community and even the world as a whole. There’s obviously a lot that goes into a home. But the most important parts are often the least obvious. For example, consider the case of windows. Most people wouldn’t think that windows make much of an impact on the world as a whole. But they’re one of the biggest benefits or deficits in people’s power bill. And of course power consumption is a huge issue when it comes to the world as a whole. One might say that the further one looks into the issue the more it opens a window onto a whole new way to look at things.

The issues with windows are often clear just by standing near one in the winter. A home might feel quite warm thanks to climate control. But just standing near a closed window will quickly show people just how ineffective windows are at keeping the cold outside. And likewise the converse holds true as well. Standard windows simply don’t do a very good job of keeping the hot air inside. One is basically spending money and resources trying to heat the outdoors. It does little but wastes precious resources. Which isn’t exactly good on one’s bank account either. At the same time this is why some other options are becoming popular.

There’s a variety of green windows which one can choose from. But the real secret comes down to gasses. One of the ironies of green windows is that they use a few more resources than a standard pane. In fact, they typically use multiple panes along with a gas substrate in between them. It’s not always self evident why this is such a green way of looking at things. But the main point comes down to comparing resource usage. The green option uses double the amount of glass. The gas layer is fairly minor when it comes to resource usage. But one needs to then consider just how much energy is saved by the relatively minor increase in resource used by that pane.

Just the simple addition of a second pane and a gas buffer can dramatically lower overall transfer of heat and cold between the two points. And this more than makes up for the initial resource usage. Creating glass is fairly minor in the long term when compared to use of nonrenewable resources used for power.

Next, the designs allow for even more innovation. For example, low-emissivity glass coatings, or low-E, can reflect some light away from a window. It will change overall absorption of heat from the sun to less than 35%. This is in comparison to 85% from standard windows. Now keep in mind that during the summer one’s interior climate control needs to compensate for heat transferred by sunlight. This should make the overall benefit quite clear.

Even the window frame itself can make a big difference in overall environmental impact. By using non-metal frame one can improve thermal performance and the chance of transferring heat. Metal is a very good conductor, which is why it’s used in electronics to transfer charges down a cable. But people want the exact opposite from a window. It should keep energy from transferring, not enhance it.

By putting all of this together one can get a clear picture of green design principles for windows. It can help dramatically reduce one’s power bill over time. But just as importantly it’s also helping to reduce one’s overall environmental impact. It’s not just smart for one’s wallet. It’s the smart way to approach the planet as a whole.