The process of converting your home into a lean, mean, Green Energy Machine is costly, tedious, and slow. Slow because each new conversion eats up so much money. Like children, only with a smaller carbon footprint. Even though many of these home energy improvements result in lower bills/monthly overhead, the amount of time it takes to recoup those investments ranges from five to twenty years. It can be tricky deciding what direction to go next in terms of fixing your footprint for the better. Today, we’ll help you decide between an investment that doesn’t just bring energy solutions, but also deals in cosmetics: windows.
What You’re Losing
Air in your home – hot or cold – leaks through the seams of doors and windows. How much? An estimated 30% of your home’s heating and air sneaks out through these means. The older your house it, the more stripped your seals are, the more energy you have that’s literally going out the window, or door. If there are foundational cracks – which are most common around door and window frames – chances are you’re losing even more air.
Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows
There are about as many different types of energy efficient windows as there are regular windows. The differences, though, correlate to the climate. Windows are made more efficient for colder and warmer regions. Typically, though, they contain added insulation that prevents heat transfer from in or outside the home. Many of them have gas fillers between panes, and/or special coatings to block or reduce heat and cold transfer.
What Should I Look For?
Excellent question. First, establish the type of weather you’re most likely to encounter. After that, you want to consider the U-value of the windows you’re looking at installing. In insulation, the R-value measures how heat transfers through the material. For windows, the U-value is the rate at which a window conducts non-solar heat flow. In colder climates, you want a lower U-value. Another factor to consider is the solar heat gain coefficient, which measures solar radiation that passes through the window. In warmer climates, a low SHGC is better at reducing heat gain inside the house.
Cost Vs. Savings
The real question on everybody’s mind. It really does depend on the type of windows you purchase, the type of windows you’re replacing, and all the bells and whistles. Costs range between $270 and $800+ per window, after labor. Savings as well have a wide range. If you’re upgrading from single-pane to double-pane you can expect to save more. If you’re going from a double-pane to a single-pane energy efficient you’ll still see savings, but on a much smaller scale. Paying off these windows via savings will most likely take longer than paying off your solar panels.
If your windows are old and outdated, splurging on energy efficient windows is a logical next step. You needn’t worry about design or aesthetic as the variety in this arena is just as wide as the nuts and bolts features. In the meantime, you can always buff up your current windows with new weather stripping, recaulking around the edges, adding a storm screen or film, as well as window treatments such as awnings on the outside and blackout curtains on the inside.