Pick Energy Efficient Replacement Windows that Save Money
Published on January 16, 2007 at 6:54 AM
Any homeowner trying to lower his or her monthly utility bills must start with
the biggest offender in the house--the windows. Swapping out older aluminum
or wood sash windows with modern, energy-efficient ones will more than make
up for the initial up-front expense by greatly reducing monthly gas and electric
bills. The savings continue for the rest of your stay in the home. The following
ten pointers can help you maximize these savings when selecting replacement
Using windows with double-pane glass once was a good first step toward
adding insulation value. But with the escalating energy costs over the last
couple of years it is proven that triple pane glass is almost a necessity.
Select glass that is coated to reflect unwanted heat or cold. Reflectivity
is measured in terms of "Low-E" -- the lower the better. Most
window replacement companies offer a Low-E coat on a single pane within
a double glass unit. One company, Bristol Windows, adds multiple Low-E layers
to two panes of their triple glass configurations. The use of a soft coating,
as opposed to hard, improves the reflectivity even more so. As a point of
reference, in Arizona the state standard requires an E-level of under 0.4.
Bristol Windows' three pane, soft coat Low-E windows come in even lower
High-tech continuous thermal spacer systems should be placed between each
piece of glass. If not, unwanted heat or cold can radiate inside.
To improve insulation properties even further, an inert gas can be placed
in between the panes of gas. This gas does a better job of slowing down
heat transfer. For example, Bristol Windows uses its own proprietary mix
of gasses on its replacement windows that lowers the E-rating to 0.23.
While aluminum window frames are still made, they are known to radiate
excess heat. For this reason many companies have turned to vinyl, which
stops the heat. However, vinyl can loose its shape on a hot day, causing
the frames to warp and not close properly. Vinyl replacement windows that
use a combination of both vinyl and aluminum, such as developed by Bristol
Windows, combine the advantages of both. The aluminum is totally concealed
and thermally separated so as to prevent transfer of unwanted heat or cold
to the inside.
If you do choose vinyl replacement windows, make sure they are not hollow.
Vinyl needs to have chambers designed into the extrusions to provide sufficient
The frame-to-wall interface must seal tightly, otherwise air can pour through.
Look for a company that uses gaskets and weather stripping at crucial areas
of the window and sash members.
Replacing windows correctly can be complicated. It is best to leave this
job to the professionals.
When evaluating a window replacement company, be sure to consider the
warranties. Longer is better. Bristol, for instance, offers a 50-year transferable
warranty on the glass and a 3-year breakage clause.
Remember that you get what you pay for. You can spend less, but the windows
will save you less. Bristol Windows, on the high end of initial costs, claims
they can cut your energy use almost in half. Over time, such replacement
windows may provide the best bang for your buck.