Why Your Money May Literally Be Going Out the Window
When you look out your windows, what do you see?
Chances are it’s your lawn, the neighbor’s yipping Chihuahua, or your kids squabbling over whose turn it is on the swing. But it could also be your hard-earned dollars, slipping through the cracks and flying away out of sight — that is, if your windows aren’t energy efficient. We also understand the importance of energy efficiency when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint and leaving a better world for our children. Yet replacing old windows (and skylights, and doors) with new ones that meet modern standards for energy efficiency can have a direct impact on your bottom line, too.
Curious about the relationship between your old windows and your sky-high energy bills?
If you feel cold drafts in the wintertime, or if your air conditioning unit has to work extra hard in the summer to keep things cool, you’re likely spending more on energy costs than you need to be. In fact, if your windows are particularly old, you may be able to see the problem for yourself. Are there cracks in the window? Gaps between the sash and the frame? If you have wooden window frames, is the wood rotting, soft, or cracking?
Answer yes to any of these questions and you definitely need to replace those old windows with newer, more energy efficient ones.
Single vs. Double Paned Windows
Did you know that in the 18th and 19th centuries, British homeowners were actually taxed for each window they had? The window tax was relatively easy to determine, since windows were visible to anyone, including tax collectors, from the street.
Back then, even simple panes of glasses counted as a luxury. Nowadays, a single pane window simply isn’t enough protection from the elements, nor from high energy bills.
Modern windows are now almost universally made from double panes of glass. Think of an insulated jacket. It’s not only that there are two layers, but that there is space between those layers for warm (or cool, in the case of your windows) air to collect and be trapped. Moreover, special technology can prevent the conduction of cool or hot air. Today’s high-tech glass can actually reduce the amount of heat or cold that enters your home, while still allowing in as much light as you like.
Frame Material Matters Too
Window frames made of metal, such as aluminum, are probably the least efficient choice.They aren’t generally the first choice for a homeowner, however, so let’s take a look at other common materials used for window frames. Frames made from vinyl often have ultraviolet light (UV) stabilizers, which keep sunlight from damaging, and eventually breaking down the material. Generally, vinyl frames also offer hollow cavities that can be filled with insulation. This gives them better thermal conductivity. This is true of fiberglass frames as well. Wood framed windows are often considered a superior choice, aesthetically speaking. They can do a fairly good job when it comes to insulating the window. Wood frames, however, also expand and contract with varying weather conditions, and that can lead to structural problems as well as energy loss. One major downside to wood frames is that they require regular maintenance. Many window professionals find that vinyl window frames are really the best all-around option. They have superior thermal qualities, are very low-maintenance and are also usually easy to keep clean. After all, you want to save the elbow-grease type of energy, too, not just the heating-and-cooling type!
If You Are Losing Air, You Are Losing Money
Windows make up about 20% of the surface area of a home’s walls — likely more, in fact, if you live in a beautiful climate like California. Yet per square foot, they also lose more heat (in winter) and gain more heat (in summer) than any other surface in the home.
You want to enjoy natural lighting in your home, but still not spend your entire paycheck on cooling costs. Therefore, you will need to find the right balance between the number and size of your windows, on the one hand, and their energy efficiency on the other.
Anytime air can travel between the interior of a structure and the outside, there is a high probability that you’ll be spending more money on energy costs. In other words, you want your home to be sealed up as tightly as possible. Since windows take up much more of your home’s surface area than, say, doors, that’s where you should focus your attention.
Don’t Forget About Security
An added bonus of today’s energy efficient windows? They’re generally safer than old windows, particularly single pane windows. Double pane windows are that much harder to break and often come standard with other security measures, such as reinforced glass.Replacing old, shoddy window frames with newer, better fitting ones is another security perk. Look for windows that come standard with security and ventilation catches, as well.
Ready to Upgrade Those Old Windows?
The benefits of replacement windows are, if you’ll pardon the pun, clear. You can continue to lose money through poorly insulated, inferior quality, old windows. Or you can take stopgap measures to try to make your existing windows more energy efficient. There is only so long you’ll be able to keep up this temporary approach, however.
There’s really no time like the present for replacing your old windows with new ones that will save you money for years to come, through lowered heating and/or cooling costs.
Custom window manufacturers will not only provide a complimentary in-home consultation and estimate, they can also fabricate specialty windows depending on your needs. Want a curved, bay, or oddly sized or shaped window? It won’t be a problem.
Imagine changing out your inefficient old windows for new ones that will enhance not only the character and beauty of your home, but also save you money on energy costs in the long run. What are you waiting for? Give us a call to find out more!