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How Efficient are Energy-Efficient Windows, Really?

Every savvy homeowner is on the lookout for ways to save extra money. If you can reduce your carbon footprint in the process, it’s that much better. Energy-efficient windows seem like the best of both worlds, right? Here’s a full rundown of the pros and cons of energy-efficient windows.

The Truth About Windows

When you look at your windows, there’s a seemingly tight fit between them and the frame surrounding them. You may presume this narrow, almost invisible gap prevents heat and air from escaping your home. If so, you’re wrong.

energy-efficient windows - multi pane - solar window and door

Double Pane Window Photo by skvidal

No matter how small the gaps are between your windows and the attached frame, energy research suggests that as much as 25 percent of your heating bill is due to losing heat to leakage through these gaps. That’s the hidden financial loss you experience when your heat seeps outside. Nobody likes wasting money, and this waste is preventable. That’s why energy-efficient windows are gaining popularity.

How Energy-Efficient Windows Work

With regular windows, you only have a single pane of protection from the exterior elements. One of the most popular materials used, aluminum, also suffers from regular heat loss. Finally, these windows suffer from sealing issues that prevent them from connecting perfectly with the surrounding area.

energy-efficient windows with low-e coating - solar window and door

Low-e windows Photo by vinzcha

Energy-efficient windows solve all these problems. They use a coating known as low-e glass to maximize efficiency. This product reduces the amount of solar energy that can escape through the pane. It also employs a polymer foam rather than aluminum to negate heat loss that way. Finally, some energy-efficient windows include multiple panes in layers to trap heat that would otherwise escape.

Do You Need Energy-Efficient Windows?

While the above advantages indicate that you might, there’s more to consider than the money saved on utility bills and the reduction in heat loss. You already have windows in your room. You’ll have to pay more to add energy-efficient ones. That means you should evaluate the amount of money you’ll save versus how much you’ll have to invest in new windows.

CostHelper.com suggests that replacing all panels in a 10-window home will cost between $3,000 and $10,000. That’s a significant financial outlay to reduce your utility bill by 25 percent. Does it make sense? That depends on several factors. The most important one is whether your bill will skew toward $3,000 or $10,000. If you can find cheaper windows that are energy-efficient, it’s a more viable option. The other considerations are whether you have the money to spend and how high your current utility bill is.

Are Other Options Available?

A much cheaper solution is to upgrade the windows you already have. The project will cost much less, and it should reduce some of the heat loss your home suffers. The downside is that it’s nowhere near as effective as installing energy-efficient windows. Doing that is a full measure. Improving the ones you have is a more affordable half-measure.

Window Treatment

How can you improve the windows you already own? The easiest steps involve plugging the leaks. Grab some caulk and weatherstripping. Everywhere there’s potential space, pick one of them and either seal or tape the gaps. This is cheap and a simple project. While it’s not foolproof, it’s better than nothing. If you want to spend a bit more money, add window treatments to reduce heat leaks.

Given the above, it’s clear that energy-efficient windows do work. Whether they’re the best option depends on your budget. The smartest thing you can do is contact an expert at Solar Window & Door Inc., at (801) 396-8490.