Let’s be honest – upgrading your windows to energy-efficient windows, as recommended by the Department of Energy, can come with sticker shock. New, top-quality replacement windows are not cheap! But they do offer a range of benefits that help make the initial cost more of investment now to save money later. Here are seven benefits to consider when shopping for new windows…
Benefits of Upgrading to Energy-Efficient Windows
1) Lower cooling and heating bills.
They’re called energy-efficient windows because they have been engineered to help reduce energy consumption. They have insulating properties, which means they can keep the winter cold and summer heat outside, ensuring the inside of your home stays comfortable all year around. Less heating, and less air conditioning use translate into lower energy bills. The Department of Energy estimates you can save anywhere from $125 to $465 a year.
What happens when sunlight pours through your windows on a sunny day? Everything in its path gets bathed with sunlight and harmful UV rays. Traditional single pane and older dual pane windows offer no UV protection. That’s why, when you lift up the corner of a rug, you’ll notice the floor has faded. Or you’ll discover your favorite leather chair is dry and cracking on the window-facing side. These heat insulation windows have a special coating that blocks up to 98% of the UV rays. You get all the wonderful light without any of the harmful effects.
3) Energy-saving windows reduce condensation and frost in colder weather months
During cold weather energy saving windows can really help with reducing the condensation and frost which a normal window can’t do. Condensation can be annoying – and can cause problems like paint peel and rotting window sills. It’s caused when warm, moist air contacts a much colder surface. Single-pane windows get very cold in the winter. When the warm moist air from your shower, kitchen sink or dishwasher contacts the window – condensation occurs. With dual pane windows, the outside surface of the outside pane takes the hit from the cold outside temperature, but coatings on the inside glass surfaces, combined with argon gas compressed into the airspace between the panes (on top-quality windows) form an insulation barrier that greatly reduces the amount of cold that gets transferred to the inner layers. (Remember, we said new windows were engineered….) The result is the glass you touch inside your home remains much closer to the ambient temperature of the room. Since the difference in temperature between the glass and the moist air is much smaller, less condensation is formed. Have concerns about mildew and mold? New, energy saving windows are going to give you greater peace of mind.
What’s one of the top five home improvement projects with the highest payout when you go to sell your home? You guessed it – new, dual pane energy efficient windows. They’ll retain up to 77.5% of their initial price come resale time. Nothing like having your investment working with you and adding value when you need it most. Plus, they’ll give your home added curb appeal which helps you get top-dollar at resale.
We’ve talked a lot about dual pane energy efficient windows insulating your home from hot and cold weather. That same insulation helps reduce the intrusion of outside noise. Live on a busy street? Get annoyed when the neighbor fires up the leaf blower? You’ll be amazed at how quiet things have become once your new windows are installed. It’ll seem like you moved to the quiet countryside! If you want the maximum amount of blissful quiet, most manufacturers offer an optional sound reduction package. Strange noises wake you up at night. Noise? What noise? New, sound-reduction windows will give you 24/7/365 moments of zen.
6) Smaller carbon footprint
The energy reduction qualities of your new windows provide a dividend beyond lower energy bills. Using less energy to heat and cool your home means your home is more eco-friendly.
7) Eligibility for Rebates, Rate Reductions
Some municipalities and local utility companies offer rebates and rate reductions to promote energy-efficient upgrades to homes. These are often seasonal and are offered within limited time frames. Ask your window consultant if there are any special programs available in your area.
Ensuring Energy Efficiency
Now that you know the benefits new energy saving windows offer, how do you ensure you get all of them? The energy efficiency of windows and doors is determined by two government regulations:
• Energy Star Rating – established by the EPA
• Title 24 – implemented by the State of California.
Both these regulations govern two key factors in determining a window’s level of energy efficiency:
• U-factor which indicates how well a window prevents heat from escaping through it. The range is 0.15 to 1.20. The lower the factor, the better the window is at keeping heat inside the home.
• Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC2) indicates how much heat from sunlight enters through a window as compared to the light value of the sun. The scale is from 0 to 1. The typical value range is 0.25 to 0.80. The lower the factor, the larger the reduction in heat gain.
Window and door products meeting the EPA’s energy efficiency criteria are bestowed Energy Star Rating certificates, symbolized by the Energy Star Logo. Products displaying the logo have been:
• Manufactured by an Energy Star Partner
• Independently tested, certified and verified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)
• Certified to meet the EPA established guidelines.
For San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma counties, Energy Star Rating for windows requires:
• U-Factor to be ≤ 0.30
• SHGC2 to be ≤ 0.25
For entry doors with windows,
• U-Factor must ≤ 0.17 for opaque glass, ≤ 0.30 for ½ lite.
• SHGC2 must be ≤ 0.25.
In 2014, the State of California passed Title 24 which mandates all home improvements made from 2014 on must comply with Title 24 energy standards. If they don’t, they won’t pass inspection. Title 24 compliance for windows and doors requires:
• U-Factor no greater than 0.32
• SHGC2 no greater than 0.25.