In this day and age of ever-rising fuel costs, not having your home properly insulated is like throwing money out the window. Literally, in fact, as old, leaky windows are a prime source of residential heat loss. Replacement windows alone can make a dramatic difference, with energy savings of up to 40% in monthly fuel bills.
In this article I’ll explain why dual pane replacement windows and other energy-saving home improvements are like money in the bank. Contractors like to point out an almost 100% return on investment when installing more energy-efficient windows, and they are right.
The problem with windows is that glass has poor heat insulation properties. Old single pane windows are hardy better than no windows at all when it comes to heat loss. And even older dual pane windows develop leaky seals that lead to condensation and reduced thermal protection. Replacing that old glass with new Energy Star compliant windows reduces utility bills, provides better sealing to ward off pollen and other pollutants, insulates better against noise, and also drastically reduces the load on your heating and cooling system.
In addition, the replacement windows can be ordered with tempered and shatterproof glass for extra protection, tinted glass for privacy and additional insulation, and even color options for special effects. Further, the extra ultra violet protection provided by specially coated and reflective glass can keep your furniture and floors from fading. Sometimes existing frames can accommodate more efficient replacement windows. If the frames need to be replaced, you can select from high-quality vinyl that never cracks or peels, or sturdy, elegant aluminum. While you’re at it, you may consider replacing flat standard windows with bay or decorative windows or add other architectural touches and enhancements.
Windows, of course, are not the only way to save energy. Up to 40% of a home’s exterior is roofing, and properly installed roofs can reduce heating and cooling bills in a number of ways. Shingles may reflect heat instead of absorbing it. Proper ventilation removes heat in the summer and quickly cools down your home. And whole-house fans efficiently remove the heat accumulating in attics.
Siding is important as well. Exterior painting not only improves the appearance of a home, but it also seals cracks through which heat can escape. Materials like Hardi Plank fiber-reinforced concrete siding are more durable and weather-resistant than wood or vinyl, again contributing to good insulation.
Properly built sunrooms can provide warmth in the winter and, through venting at night, cooling in the summer. Covered patios can provide shade, again reducing the load on the air conditioning system. The same goes for certain types of pergolas that are both decorative and provide shade. Decks and terraces, too, can shield windows from the sun, perhaps with the addition of plants, while adding quality living space to a structure.
So, the next time you think of home improvement projects, don’t stop at replacement windows. Take it as an opportunity to make your home a more environmentally friendly place with lower heating and cooling bills. Improving the value of your home and saving money at the same time…who could argue with that?