Windows have come a long way since the semi-translucent sheepskins on sod houses. Unfortunately, they still account for 10-25 percent of your heating bill. But you are not alone. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that, every year, $35 billion in waste energy squeezes through the windows in American homes.
You can lower your energy bills with windows. Do it for you. Do it for America.
Double Down with Double-Pane Windows
A single-pane window has an R-value of 1.0 and reflects about 25 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. That sheepskin could do better.
A double-pane window doubles the thermal insulation compared to ye olde single-pane window. An ENERGY STAR-certified window usually has an R-value of 3.0 and reflects up to 50 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Do you live north of the 37th parallel? According to ENERGY STAR, if you remove your single-pane windows, donate them to an antique store, and replace them with ENERGY STAR-certified windows, you could $340 every year.
Do I Need Gas?
Some windows sandwich argon, instead of air, between the glass panes. Argon does not corrode framing materials, increases acoustic insulation, reduces furnishing fading, decreases frost and condensation, and usually adds an R-value of 0.5-1.0.
If you are independently wealthy, you could also spring for a triple-pane, krypton-filled glass. Unfortunately, you’ll probably outlive your payback period.
For Warm Climates
In the sticky, sizzling summers of the Gulf Coast, the purpose of a window is to keep heat out - and that means reducing solar radiation.
According to Energy.gov, window awnings can reduce heat gain in the summer by 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows.
Interior Blinds or Shades
Open them on cold days; close them on hot days. If you live in an extreme continental climate, choose dual shades: white (reflective) on one side, and dark (heat-absorbing) on the other.
Reflectivity films bounce light off the window back into the Great Outdoors, where it belongs. Low-e window films and glazes work well in all seasons.
For Cool Climates
In cooler climates, the purpose of a window is to keep heat in.
The most expensive window can be outdone by inadequate weather stripping and caulking.
Think Victorian drapes or Baroque curtains.
An insulated window panel is a removable pop-in panel (R-value 3.8-7.0) that plugs up a window during severe winter freezes. Everyone in the Great Lakes region ought to own a handful.
Ready to lower your electric bill? Contact a qualified window professional in your area.