“Should I replace my old windows, and if so, with what?”

This is a very common question we get a lot in the retrofitting business. For aesthetic purposes we can see why many homeowners jump to do this project first! But if you’re working to make your home as efficient as possible, it should be the last thing on your list of upgrades to do.

The cost of replacing windows is averaged to be around $12,000 with a savings on heat of about $50 a month. After paying off installation, recouping the savings can take up to 40 years! If you’re wondering why that is, it’s because having windows means there’s a break in the insulation of your home.

Let’s break down the facts:

·         U-Factor - A window’s ability to insulate is measured by its U-factor, much like insulation in your walls uses R-value. The smaller the number of U-factor, the better the insulation.

·         ≤ 0.30 - Energy Star windows have to be a U-factor of 0.30 or better for Northern climates, like ours.

·         Converting to R-value - To convert your windows from U-factor to R-value, use this formula (1 ÷ U-factor). So, if your windows are a U-factor of 0.30 (1 ÷ 0.30) your windows only have an R-value of R-3!

If your windows are damaged or have broken seals, then it is time to start replacing them. Otherwise, you’re going to see the best return of your money by investing in insulation and switching to a high efficiency heat source.

When you are ready for new windows, you’re going to find there’s not just double paned, Energy Star windows. There’s a window for every personality. Most people have heard of LowE windows. This stands for “Low emissivity” and is a thin metallic layer applied over the glass that allows short wave lengths to come in while blocking the long wave lengths.

LowE is not to be confused with tinted glass, though. Many people can get confused with the two. Tinted glass can get hot since its absorbing solar heat, and it isn’t energy efficient.

As always, we follow and recommend to our clients to follow, Energy Stars code for all of your home’s updating. Prioritizing upgrades to your home will make a world of difference to your energy consumption and your wallet throughout the year.