Pick Energy Efficient Replacement Windows that Save Money

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 windows.

  1. 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.

  2. 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 at 0.31.

  3. High-tech continuous thermal spacer systems should be placed between each piece of glass. If not, unwanted heat or cold can radiate inside.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 wall strength.

  7. 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.

  8. Replacing windows correctly can be complicated. It is best to leave this job to the professionals.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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