Facts vs. Fiction on Energy-Efficient Windows
Fall’s coming. That makes it a great time to think about home improvements that will keep you and your family cozy in the months ahead.
It’s a fact that windows play an important role in the snugness of your home. They can account for 25-30% of your home energy costs. But it’s a fiction that windows are your greatest source of heat loss and that you should rush to replace them. You lose far more heat through two other parts of your house.
The Top Heat Thief in Your Home
The biggest culprit for wasting warmth on cold days? That’s your roof, which can leak 35-50% of your heating energy, depending on your insulation. The next biggest heat thief is walls, which lose warmth through cracks, gaps around ductwork, electrical outlets, recessed lighting, and more. In fact, windows only account for about one-fifth of the heat escaping from your home.
Yet if windows aren’t the least energy-efficient feature of your home, does it still pay to be “energy smart” about them? It does. And there are some simple things you can do to be energy-efficient AND cost-efficient this winter.
One “fact” you might see out there is that new windows pay for themselves through savings on your fuel bills. They might—if you own your home long enough. But let’s look at the data first.
Weighing Costs vs. Savings
New windows will definitely make your home feel snugger, particularly if you have an older home with single-pane glass windows. Well-installed replacement windows will fit tightly, look great and be easier to operate and maintain.
But it obviously costs something to replace your windows. My wife may yell at me for telling you this, but the money you save on fuel bills from installing new, energy-efficient windows is not going to cover the cost of those windows near term. So it’s a fact that new windows can help cut your fuel bills, but it’s a fiction that they do it cost-effectively AND quickly.
If your windows are in decent shape, the most penny-wise thing you can do is improve their weather-worthiness. Caulking or weather stripping can go a long way toward eliminating drafts through cracks in the frame. Some folks also put up a layer of plastic film to help hold in warm air. All that helps.
R U Energy Wise?
If you’re still thinking about replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones, there are several factors to weigh. Different glazing options offer different energy benefits—double pane, triple pane, reflective glass, gas-filled, and so on. The window frame material also makes a big difference. Wood, fiberglass, and vinyl frames all offer greater thermal resistance than aluminum, for example. We can walk you through the options.
If you want to do your own research on a product’s energy efficiency, look for information from these sources:
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To be labeled an ENERGY STAR, a product has to pass certain energy efficiency requirements. Learn more here: https://www.energystar.gov/products/how-product-earns-energy-star-label
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is a nonprofit that’s established independent criteria for evaluating the energy performance of door, window, and skylight products. Learn more here: http://www.nfrc.org
Simply, the ENERGY STAR label says a product has been tested and deemed energy-efficient. The NFRC label then helps you dig deeper by comparing performance across certain criteria, so you can evaluate products against each other.
There are two more ratings to know: If you see an “R-value” on a product, that “R” is for “resistance.” It measures how resistant a glass product is to heat flow, or losing heat. A higher R-value indicates good insulating properties. Another number is “U-factor” or “U-value.” U-factor measures how quickly a glass product transmits heat between the interior and exterior spaces. A lower U-factor also indicates good insulating qualities. Simply, you want windows with high “R” numbers and low “U” numbers.
We Can Help
Like so many other projects around your home, the quality of the contractor you hire makes a huge difference in your experience. Bad window installations can leak, cause drafts, and lead to moisture damage. A great installation will add to the value, appearance, and comfort of your home while minimizing disruption to your life.
At McCann Windows & Exteriors, we believe in guaranteeing your satisfaction. And that’s a fact! Please give us a call with any questions. We’re ready to serve you and estimates are free. Just visit https://mccannwindow.com or call 847-852-4513.