Saving energy. Easier to maintain. Lasting a lifetime. These are all the things replacement energy efficient windows are supposed to do for you. There are a lot of myths out there about energy efficiency and replacement windows 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.
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? 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.
So, how long should vinyl windows last? Professionals agree 15 – 20 years for new, quality windows. That’s hardly a lifetime. It used to be that homes, including windows, were passed down through generations. Now, it’s acceptable to call 20 years a lifetime.
Many new homebuyers are looking for green homes, those that will keep utility costs down and create a smaller carbon footprint. New windows will do this and provide improved insulation and comfort.
Retrofitting windows with inserts will do all this 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.
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. The inserted gas does leak over time. 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 (which is non-toxic) at once. With a window insert, you would just remove and reinstall to recreate the seal.
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.