If you're a homeowner looking to save money, one of the first things you should focus on is improving the energy efficiency of your home—specifically, your windows.
Heat loss and gain through your home’s windows are responsible for about 30% of your heating and cooling energy usage. So, if you’re wondering why those monthly utility bills are higher than they should be—or why you’re always feeling cold in the winter — you may want to consider upgrading to high efficiency insulated windows.
While there’s an initial investment, high efficiency windows can save you money over the long term and keep you comfortable during the hottest and coldest months of the year.
What Are Insulated Windows?
Insulated windows consist of two or more glass panes that are separated by a space that’s been filled with air, argon or some other type of gas. The space between the two panes is the main ingredient toward reducing the heat transfer from your home.
Insulated windows are also referred to as insulated glass units, or IGUs. An IGU is typically manufactured with two or three glass panes that are relatively thick. IGUs are also called “double-pane” or “double glazing” windows.
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How Are Insulated Glass Units Made?
Insulated glass units are more energy efficient than single pane windows because the way they are constructed with multiple panes creates a near air-tight wall that blocks heat and cold from coming in and out of your home.
The double pane window is the most common IGU. Each pane of glass is manufactured to be 1/8-inch thick. Each pane is installed with a spacer that has desiccant in it, which absorbs moisture. The unit is then sealed to prevent any air to escape. After the unit is put together, professionals fill the space between the panes. Some are filled with argon or krypton gas to further enhance its insulation.
When multiple IGUs are installed in a home, it’s estimated they can significantly cut energy expenses. If this has you excited, reach out to our fellow Neighborly® brand, Mr. Electric, to learn more about energy savings with a whole house fan.
How Do Energy Efficient Windows Save Me Money?
Energy efficient windows save you money by minimizing the heat transfer in and out your home.
When heat isn’t escaping your home in the winter, that means your furnace doesn’t need to work as hard to heat your home. You realize those savings on your monthly gas utility bill.
The same is true in the summer, when heat is trying to seep into your home through your windows. When your windows are well insulated, your air conditioning doesn’t need to run as often, which cuts down on your electrical bill.
Energy Efficient Windows Cost Savings
When you see the first quote to replace your old, single-pane windows with new, high efficiency windows, you might be wondering if this home improvement project is really going to save you money. Yes, it’s true. This is a project where you first need to make an investment before you see a return. But depending on the size of your upgrade, it is feasible to see a return on your investment.
Let’s pretend you’re replacing 10 standard-sized windows in your home with high efficiency windows. At an average cost of $375 per window, according to Fixr.com, that project costs you $3,750.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates high efficiency windows can save you up to $465 per year in annual energy savings, which means you can realize your investment in about eight years. With the average lifespan of a high efficiency window at 15-20 years, you could realize a return on your investment even if the estimated energy savings are cut in half.
While money talks, comfort is also important. You can’t put a price on it, but if you’re sick about complaining about being cold in the winter, high efficiency windows can keep you feeling toasty warm throughout the colder months.
Selecting The Best Windows for Energy Savings
Convinced on the cost savings of high efficiency windows? There’s a few more things you need to consider.
While all energy saving windows are a good choice for saving money in your wallet and improving your comfort, you need to consider the entire package when making your purchase — windows aren’t one size fits all.
First, window placement matters! If you’re constructing a new home and have choices about window placement, be cognizant about the amount of sunlight, in addition to the overall aesthetics of the windows.
Here are a few other things you need to consider:
Panes. Most insulated windows are double panes, but it’s not uncommon to see three panes. That extra pane of glass is more energy efficient, but the energy savings aren’t drastic. You may consider a triple pane window for a westward-facing large window that can better prevent heat from seeping into your home.
Frame materials. From aluminum to wood, there are several options for your window frame, each with their own pros and cons. Fiberglass frames deliver great thermal performance compared to wood frames but are more expensive. Vinyl frames can insulate better than wood, but not as good as fiberglass. They are more affordable, though.
Low-E coatings. When sun beats through your windows, it can quickly heat things up. A Low-E Coating can lower the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that comes through the glass, while maintaining the amount of visible light. You can choose from passive coatings, which cuts down on the heating your furnace churns out, or solar control low-e coatings, which can keep your home cooler.
Gas. The two main gases used for additional insulation pumped between your windowpanes is argon and krypton. Argon is more affordable, but Krypton is a better overall insulator.
If this feels like a lot of options, don’t worry. Energy Star and other similar rating systems offer estimated cost savings that can help you determine the right windows for your home.
Related Topic: Does Window Placement Really Matter
Invest Now and Save For Decades
Finding ways to save money is always a worthwhile process. Installing energy efficiency, insulated windows may cost you a little more initially, but they are a great investment that will pay dividends later in the form of lower monthly utility bills. If you are interested in upgrading your windows, but are not sure how to get started, contact your local window experts at Glass Doctor®. We can help you choose the right windows for your home and provide professional installation and service that ensure your window replacement is done right. Call us today at (833) 974-0209 or request an estimate online.