Winter is just around the corner. The onset of cold weather signals the beginning of chilly air seeping in around your windows and rising heating bills.
This thought alone causes homeowners to shudder!
Maybe it’s time to consider replacing your windows to make your home more efficient.
But is the investment worth it?
And how would you even go about choosing an energy-efficient window that doesn’t break the bank?
We get it. That’s why we’re here.
In this article, we explore the wisdom of investing in new windows, as well as components of an energy-efficient window, and how to choose the right energy-efficient window.
Ready to go? Let’s jump right in!
5 Reasons Replacement Windows
Are Worth The Investment
Asking the right questions before you tackle any project is always a good idea.
When it comes to putting new windows in your house, the first question to consider is whether or not the investment in new windows is worth the cost.
Energy Savings of New Windows
Most people know that replacing their old windows with energy-efficient windows reduces the costs to heat and cool their homes.
However, if energy savings were the only benefit of new windows, the investment would probably not be worth it.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you’ll save between $126 to $465 a year by replacing single-pane windows in your home. If you already have double-pane windows that you are simply upgrading, you can plan on $27 to $111 in yearly savings.
The cost of windows varies depending on the size, type, and quality of the window. An average price for a new window is $650.
That means that an average-sized home costs around $6,000 to $10,000 for window replacement.
In other words:
New windows take around 12 years minimum to pay for themselves in energy savings alone (6,000 divided by 465).
Thankfully, energy savings are not the only way new energy-efficient windows improve your home.
Increase Your Home Resale Value
When you replace your old windows with new, energy-efficient windows, the value of your home jumps.
Usually, you recoup about 70 to 80 percent of the costs of new windows just on the increase in your home’s value.
So, if energy-efficient windows cost $10,000 to install, you can expect the overall value of your home to increase by $7,000 to $8,000.
Not bad, right?
Stay Cozy in the Winter and Cool in the Summer
Comfort isn’t the ultimate goal in life, but it sure is nice!
Just think of all the things we spend money on to increase comfort:
- Soft mattresses
- The AC in our vehicle
- Scented candles
- Pet beds
This list could go on for a while, but we’ll stop there.
The point is, we like to be comfortable - and we’re willing to spend money on comfort.
Energy-efficient windows minimize the cold drafts you feel in your house.
Beyond temperature, energy-efficient windows prevent mold growth and reduce the amount of dust, dirt, and insects that get into your home.
Help the Environment
Did you know that electricity generated by fossil-fueled power plants is the leading cause of carbon monoxide in our atmosphere?
That’s right - replacing outdated windows with energy-efficient windows may be one of the best things you can do for the environment.
Energy-efficient windows allow you to use less energy to heat and cool your home. Lower demand for energy means that power plants use fewer resources and become less dependent on fossil fuels, which are becoming increasingly scarce and costly.
Having energy-efficient windows also helps you do your part in decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.
In fact, the energy saved in heating and cooling offsets up to 6,205 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions—the equivalent of 317 gallons of gasoline!
Get a Chance At Preferred Financing
Because of the environmental benefits that energy-efficient winders offer, some states and utility companies offer incentives for installing them.
DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Simply choose your state to view the policies and incentives that apply to you.
You can also find rebates for windows, doors, and skylights using ENERGY STAR'S rebate finder.
New, energy-efficient windows make even more sense when you can find an applicable rebate for your new window installation.
Considering all the factors, installing energy-efficient windows seems worth the investment. The benefits go beyond saving money - all the way to having a positive environmental impact.
With that in mind, let’s tackle the next question!
6 Components Of An Energy-Efficient Window
Deciding if new energy-efficient windows are important is just step one when it comes to replacing windows in your home.
Next, you need to know how to pick the right energy-efficient window for your home. Here are 6 considerations when it comes to choosing energy-efficient windows.
Energy efficiency for windows is based on ratings certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).
The energy ratings that the NFRC gives are based on two main factors: U-Factor and SHGC.
- U-factor is the rate at which a window, door, or skylight conducts non-solar heat flow. The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window is.
- Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) is the fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window that is subsequently released as heat inside a home.
The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat it transmits and the greater its shading ability.
A product with a high SHGC rating is more effective at collecting solar heat during the winter. A product with a low SHGC rating is more effective at reducing cooling loads during the summer by blocking heat gain from the sun.
Your home’s climate, orientation, and external shading will determine the optimal SHGC for a particular door.
If your eyes just glazed over at that explanation, don’t panic! Energy.gov’s comprehensive Efficient Windows Collaborative can help you select the right windows based on your geography and climate.
And if you want to make it really easy, look for the ENERGY STAR sticker. Any product that has the sticker is guaranteed to meet or exceed energy code requirements.
Within the window itself, several factors affect efficiency. Let's take a look at some of them.
Panes of Glass
Newer windows are typically double pane or triple pane, which means they have either two or three glass panes.
As a rule of thumb, more panes means a more energy-efficient window.
Logic may tell you that three-pane windows are always the best option - but that is not necessarily true.
Triple pane windows are expensive and heavy. Unless you live in a cold environment, triple pane windows are probably overkill.
The best thing to do is check with your local window supplier and get their recommendation on the number of panes needed for your geographical area.
Glass itself is a horrendous insulator. Instead, it is the air between the glass panes that does most of the insulating.
Some energy-efficient windows go one step further and have argon or krypton gas injected between the panes. These gasses are transparent and provide even better insulation than normal air.
Thankfully, argon and krypton are entirely non-toxic, so small leakages pose no risk to your health.
Frame and Sash Materials
Window frames and sashes can be made from a number of materials. The most commonly used materials are wood and vinyl.
Generally, wood is the best material for insulation and energy efficiency. However, if the wood is damaged by weather, gaps could allow heat and cold to transfer into your home.
Vinyl is also a good insulator - though not as good as wood. Foam-filled frames particularly enhance insulation. Unfortunately, a small amount of temperature exchange can happen with hollow-core vinyl frames.
Warm Edge Spacers
Spacers are used to separate and secure panes of glass.
The edges of the glass are always the most vulnerable to heating and cooling loss. Because of this, look for warm edge spacers.
Warm edge spacers feature “warm edge technology,” meaning they reduce the conductivity of heat and cold on the panes of glass.
You can increase your window's energy efficiency by selecting specific Low-E (Low-emissivity) glass coatings for different areas of your home. These are layers of thermal protection inside insulating glass that help:
- Reflect summer heat, and keep your house cool.
- Reflect winter cold, and keep your house warm.
- Block harmful UV rays to prevent furniture and other valuables from fading.
10 Main Styles Of Replacement Windows
Now you know the main factors in choosing an energy-efficient window.
But most people want more than an energy-efficient window. They also want windows that look good, fit the style of their house, and are easy to clean.
Let’s figure out which kind of energy-efficient window is right for you!
Single Hung Windows
With single-hung windows, the bottom window panel slides up and down. However, the top window panel is not movable.
The windows generally have a simple, clean look and are great for letting fresh air in the house. However, cleaning the outside of the top panel requires a ladder since it is not moveable.
Double Hung Windows
A double hung window is similar to a single hung window. However, both the bottom and top window panels are movable with double hung windows.
Double hung windows look very similar to single hung windows but are often more expensive. They are most often found in homes with classic traditional styling.
A nice benefit of most double hung windows is that the window panels can tilt out for easy cleaning.
Awning windows are unique in their design. Instead of sliding up and down, they hinge and open outwards.
They are hinged at the top and swing out from the bottom, gliding open and shut with the turn of a handle.
Awning windows are ideal for climates with lots of rain since their design protects the window opening from getting wet, even when the window is open.
Like awning windows, casement windows open and close with a crank.
However, instead of opening vertically, casement windows swing open horizontally. One side remains stationary, while the other side pivots open like a door.
Casement windows have a slightly more modern look than standard single or double hung windows. They are also very helpful in catching and directing breezes into your home.
However, casement windows can be broken off by strong winds - especially when cranked the whole way open.
Picture windows are fixed windows that can’t be opened. Most often, they are large and don’t have any panes or visible frames.
This makes picture windows the perfect option if you have a beautiful view you’d like to enjoy.
Beware, though - picture windows situated toward busy roads allow people a great look into your home. If you value privacy, you’ll want to equip your picture window with curtains that you can close when it's time to be alone.
Sliding windows are very simple. They consist of two side-by-side windows that slide horizontally past each other on tracks.
Sliding windows were popular in new construction during the 1950s and 60s, so they are a bit outdated by now.
However, sliding windows are less expensive due to their simple design and quite durable.
Skylight windows have the right name. They are windows installed on your roof!
If you want to add more natural light to your home but have limited options with exterior walls, a skylight window is an excellent window option.
Logically, skylights take a heavy beating from sun and rain. As a result, these windows are prone to problems and have a shorter lifespan than other windows.
Hopper windows are pretty much the opposite of awning windows.
They hinge at the bottom, allowing the top of the window to tip into the room.
Hopper windows make efficient use of compact spaces, which is why they are commonly found in basements or bathrooms.
Hopper windows also provide excellent insulation since they seal tightly against the window frame when closed all the way.
Arched windows have rounded tops that add an architectural design to any home.
Like picture windows, arched windows usually do not open and close. Instead of being used for ventilation, they are used for aesthetics - letting in lots of light and giving a unique view of the outside world.
Bay windows protrude from an exterior wall and create a small shelf in the home. They are traditionally formed with a fixed center picture window flanked on the sides by one or more double-hung or casement windows.
Bay windows are usually quite large and create a stunning design statement. The shelf that a bay window makes in the interior of a house is a great place to create a reading nook or display plants.
However, bay windows are quite expensive. And because of their weight, bay windows often require a fair amount of structural work to be done on your home.
No matter what your style is, there is a window to match it. And no matter what kind of window you choose, you can always make sure it’s energy-efficient!
There are many questions when it comes to taking the plunge and investing in new, energy-efficient windows for your home.
Thankfully, you can now be confident in making a wise investment and choosing the right windows for your home.
If you are looking for efficient windows and live in Northern Indiana, consider Graber Supply.