Saving energy. Easier to maintain. Lasting a lifetime. These are all the things replacement energy efficient windows are supposed to do for you. If you’re asking yourself if new windows are a good investment for your home, we’re here to tell you sure. But the question you should be asking yourself is if they’re the best investment. Replacement windows aren’t always the best for performance, and they certainly aren’t the cheapest option. There are a lot of window replacement myths out there about energy efficiency and benefits. We’re clearing some of them up here.
Window Energy Efficiency Myths
Replacement windows are the most energy efficient windows
New windows are easier to maintain
Replacement windows last a lifetime (or even 40 years)
New windows add value to a home
Only new windows can improve energy efficiency
According to ENERGY STAR, you can save an average of 12% a year on your energy bill by installing Energy Star windows. This changes depending on the windows you’re replacing and what kind of climate you live in.
According to the Department of Energy: “Storm windows will produce similar savings at a far lower initial cost. Some types of storm windows are also a good option for those living in apartments. Storm windows can help reduce air movement into and out of existing windows, helping to improve comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs.”
Indow window inserts, for example, save an average of 20% on energy bills annually. This combined with their lowered cost means a dramatically shorter ROI. That makes window inserts the most energy efficient window treatments.
Most new replacement windows boast an easy maintenance system. A sash pops out for easy cleaning. One of the benefits of replacement windows is no need for touch up paint on vinyl frames. Newer windows though, are complex with many moving parts, if any one of those parts breaks, the entire assembly could be compromised. Even if you can get a replacement part, the damage done in the meantime by nature could make it too late. How long do vinyl windows last? Only until the seal is broken.
Window inserts have no moving parts. If the seal is broken, you simply remove the insert and reinstall it.
Lifetime warranty. That’s one of the huge replacement window benefits, right? But how long are window warranties? If you look closely at this warranty, it’s generally 20-25 years. And that’s usually for just the glass. Other parts of the assembly of the window could be warrantied for less. Lower quality replacement windows can come with warranties less than 10 years.
So, how long should vinyl windows last? Professionals agree 15 – 20 years for new, quality windows. That’s hardly a lifetime. It’s no surprise then that their warranties last exactly this long. A window’s warranty typically will not exceed its life expectancy. It used to be that homes, including windows, were passed down through generations. Now, it’s acceptable to call 20 years a lifetime. Since windows are not covered by home warranties, you want to make sure your window solution has a warranty that will give you peace of mind. Indow inserts come with a warranty that lasts as long as the purchaser remains in the home.
Many new homebuyers are looking for green homes, those that will keep utility costs down and create a smaller carbon footprint. If your current windows are not energy efficient, it might be worthwhile to address the issue. But new windows won’t necessarily add value to your house. Window replacement projects often cost a couple thousand dollars more than the value that new windows add to your home. If you have a historic home, replacing the original windows will likely hurt the value.
Retrofitting windows with inserts will cut utility costs and shrink your carbon footprint while prolonging the life of the original windows and maintaining the curb appeal of your home. New windows will look out of place with the rest of the home design.
Window inserts are the best energy efficient window treatments, despite the new technology available with replacement windows.
New replacement windows can seal gas between the two panes that further help with thermal insulation. The gas, usually argon, helps with heat gain and heat loss because it is less convective than air. However, the inserted gas does leak over time. Leaks can cause the windows to appear foggy. In most cases, the leak follows the same timeline as the window, remaining effective for 20 years. In some cases, the seal will break, releasing all the gas at once. With a window insert, you would just remove and reinstall to recreate the seal. Argon gas is non-toxic, nonflammable, and non-reactive. Another misconception about argon-filled windows is that the gas between the panes will help with noise reduction. This is not true. Windows with argon gas will help with energy efficiency, but they are not an appropriate solution for noise reduction.
Other replacement window benefits include Low-E coatings. Low-E coatings come in a variety of choices. They all can lower the solar heat-gain coefficient (a lower SHGC means less heat passes through the window). The benefits of replacement windows with Low-E coating are hard to argue with, but window inserts can provide the same thing. Indow Shade Grade has a SHGC of .49 (reducing solar heat-gain by 51%), 57.5% visible light transmittance, R-value listing of 1.96 and UV reduction of 90%.
There are so many myths about windows out there, we don’t blame you. The good news is, we’ve done a lot of research and can talk you through it. You probably don’t have to replace all your windows, maybe only some and add storm windows or inserts to others.
Whatever window issue you are facing, we’d love to help! Give us a call and we can talk about what the best option is for you.