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How to Determine If Your Home Windows Are Energy Efficient

December 11, 2020

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If you’re a homeowner, it’s good to ask, “Are my windows energy efficient?” If the answer is no, it’s time for an upgrade! Homes lose tremendous heat and cold through their windows, spiking utility costs, and creating a very uncomfortable interior environment.

New windows offer many benefits beyond energy-efficiency, including a better view to the outside, improved curb appeal, and increased proper values. Before you go another year with old, worn-out windows, check out some reasons why you might upgrade to new windows and a few suggestions for choosing the best style for your space.

Are Your Windows Energy-Efficient?

The best way to determine if your windows are energy efficient is to schedule an energy audit for your home; check with your local utility company, as some perform this audit for free! An energy audit reviews your home’s insulating factors, noting how much heat or cold passes through windows, walls, doors, and other spaces. If the energy audit notes that your windows do a poor job of keeping out heat and cold, it’s time for a replacement!

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You can note a few added factors that will indicate if the windows are energy efficient or if they need an update. First consider the frame; vinyl and fiberglass are excellent insulators, followed by aluminum. Wood, however, does a poor job of insulating a home and allows for maximum heat and cold transfer; even if you love wood’s appearance, updating to another material means added energy efficiency for your home.

Efficiency Factors Homeowners Can Check

Hardware and home improvement stores often sell infrared thermometers that measure ambient or room temperatures. Use this to check temperatures in the middle of a window pane and then the temperature of its frame and surrounding walls. If the temperature in the middle of the pane is several degrees higher or lower, the window glass is thin or otherwise poorly insulated and needs replacing!

To check for air leaks, choose a windy day and shut all windows and doors in the house, switch off all fans and the HVAC system, and then slowly move a lit incense stick around the window frames. Drafts coming through gaps around those frames will blow that incense smoke around; if the smoke moves unsteadily back and forth or seems as if it’s getting sucked out of the house, this signals an air leak!

Temporary measures such as plastic sheeting over windows in wintertime and weather-stripping around their edges can reduce cold drafts and stuffy summertime air, but upgrading to new energy-efficient windows is a better option! With upgraded windows, you won’t need to worry about putting up and then tearing down unsightly plastic, or replacing worn weather-stripping every season.

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Do New Windows Really Save Energy?

Before you invest in energy efficient windows, you might wonder if new windows really save energy and, in turn, utility costs. While your savings will vary according to your home’s size and energy rates, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that homeowners might save $126 to $465 per year after replacing single-pane windows. Since double-pane windows are already energy-efficient, your savings will be lower if you were to replace double-glazed windows, although thicker glass and upgraded window frames will add to those savings.

While these savings might not seem overwhelming, remember that they do add up over the years! There are also a few other reasons to consider updated windows for your home and which make them an excellent investment:

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Do Energy-Efficient Windows Increase Home Value?

Homeowners will typically see a healthy return on their investment when they choose updated, energy-efficient windows. Many appraisers and real estate agents estimate that you might see a 70% to 75% average return on your window replacement costs; for every $10,000 spent for new windows, expect an average of $7000 to $7500 increase in your home’s overall value.

If you’re concerned about your potential return on an investment, and especially if you’re considering putting your home on the real estate market, speak to a real estate agent or property appraiser near you. He or she can note the best choice for your home, what homebuyers prefer when it comes to new windows, and your expected return on investment.

The Secret Benefits of New Home Windows

Increased energy efficiency is not the only reason to consider updating your home’s windows! Consider some hidden benefits of new windows for your home and be sure to discuss your options with a window installer near you:

  • Tilt-in windows allow you to clean the exterior glass from the convenience and safety of an inside room! Sparkling clean windows let in more light and ensure your home looks pristine from the outside. Removing abrasive grit and grime regularly also protects window glass.
  • Over time, window frames might expand and shrink or otherwise shift out of position and pull away from a home’s framework. Windows then stick, making it difficult to open and close them or even lock them securely. New windows are easier to operate and lock securely.
  • Worn, thin glass allows in more sound and tends to rattle in high winds or from heavy vibrations. Updated windows block more sound and don’t vibrate as easily, creating a quiet, comfortable interior environment.
  • Larger windows or a new window style can mean more sunlight and fresh air inside the home, creating a more welcoming look and feel! Better fresh air circulation can even improve indoor air quality, removing more dust, allergens, and pollutants.
  • New window styles improve the look of your home from both the inside and out! Bay and bow windows especially create a homey, cozy look, while picture windows open up your space and offer a stunning view from the inside while breaking up the look of long walls outside your home.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Windows?

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An energy audit can tell you if your home’s windows are letting in heat and cold, as said. There are also a few other indicators that it’s time for new windows; if you’re tired of their look, want more light and air in the home, or if those windows stick and are difficult to operate, it’s time for window replacement! Every homeowner should feel comfortable with every detail of their house, including the appearance and operation of the home’s windows.

Check out a few other indicators that it’s time to schedule an appointment with a window replacement contractor near you:

  • Windows Covered in Condensation: Properly sealed, energy-efficient windows keep out water as well as heat and cold. If your windows are often covered in condensation, there are leaks around the frames or the glass is thin and letting in cold air. That moisture can risk mold and wood rot, so consider window replacement as soon as you notice condensation around window glass.
  • No UV Blocking Features: Today’s UV-blocking window glass allows in sunlight while blocking harmful UV rays. If you’ve invested in wood floors or keep furniture in front of the windows, it’s time to upgrade the windows, to prevent faded furniture and dried, damaged hardwoods.
  • Difficult to Close & Lock Windows: If you struggle to close and lock windows securely, it’s time for an upgrade! Windows are a favorite entry point for thieves and intruders; if they don’t close and lock securely, it can be easier for someone to pry open those windows. To ensure your home’s and family’s security, invest in upgraded windows that are easy to operate and lock securely.

The Best Windows to Put In Your House

Your home’s new windows should be a balance of energy-efficiency and style! Note some added details of various window options and then discuss your choices with a window installer near you, so you’re happy with your new windows for years to come.

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What ARE Energy-Efficient Windows?

Energy-efficient windows are designed to keep out heat and cold as well as damaging UV rays. There are also types of energy-efficient windows to peruse when making the choice for efficiency. When shopping for energy-efficient windows, note the following features from which to choose:

  • Multiple panes or glaze add to a window’s overall insulation, so always choose double-glazed or triple-glazed windows rather than single panes.
  • Argon and krypton gas between those panes adds to their overall insulating qualities. While argon and krypton are more expensive than air, consider investing in either if you can fit it into your budget!
  • Vinyl and fiberglass frames are very energy-efficient, blocking cold and heat, as said. Aluminum also doesn’t conduct heat and cold very easily.
  • If you love the look of wood window frames, consider composite frames, made of a mixture of wood and fiberglass or vinyl. Composite frames offer the look of wood but with the energy-efficiency of vinyl or fiberglass.
  • Low-E coatings refer to coatings designed to lower emissivity or the passage of UV and infrared rays through the glass. Low-E coatings keep the heat outside the home in summer while keeping your heating inside the home during winter months, but without reducing sunlight.

There’s a Variety of Window Styles Available!

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Single-hung windows have two separate panes; the lower pane lifts and lowers for opening and closing. While this style is functional and affordable, a different window style can offer more light and increased fresh air circulation, as well as easier operation. Note a few various window styles and where they might be the best choice in your home:

  • Casement windows are hinged on the side and move outward, like a door. Casement windows typically have a small lever on a lower corner, making them easy to open and close. For windows over a sink, tub, or other obstruction where standard single-hung windows become difficult to operate, consider a casement style window.
  • Awning windows are typically small, usually half the size of a standard window, with a hinge on the top. Awning windows push outward, forming a 45-degree angle like an awning. These are an excellent choice where you need a bit of light and fresh air, such as a basement.
  • Slider windows slide from one side to another and offer easier operation in areas where lifting and lowering a standard single-hung window might be cumbersome and difficult.
  • For maximum style, light, and fresh air circulation, consider bow or bay windows. These windows have three or five panels that jut out from the home, opening up the space and allowing for comfortable cross breezes!

When choosing window styles, opt for energy-efficient features that offer the most insulation; for example, if you prefer oversized casement windows, ensure you invest in low-E coatings, to block heat from all that added sunlight! Basement awning windows should always be double-glazed or triple-glazed, to block moisture and cold that tend to collect around a home’s foundation.

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A Word From Our Window Replacement Company

Aurora Window Replacement Co. is proud to offer this information to our readers and we hope you find it useful! If you still have questions about whether or not your windows are energy efficient, or need window replacement in Aurora, Colorado, give us a call. We carry all the latest energy-efficient window styles and are happy to help you choose the right style for your home.

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