Windows and Your Energy Bill

Factors to consider when you decide it's time to lower your home's energy expenses.

Just about everyone agrees that if you are trying to lower your utility bills you have to start with the biggest offender in the home—your windows.  For most homeowners, upgrading windows is one of the biggest home improvement expenses you will face, at first.  But after that cash outlay you can count on saving money every month for the rest of your stay in that home.  

Here are some factors to consider when you decide to invest in permanently lowering your bills with replacement widows:

1) Double pane glass will help.  But if two panes are better than one; how about using three panes of glass?  Some manufacturers offer three panes of glass and that adds some insulation value but not enough to combat today’s escalating energy costs.

2) The glass itself needs to have added reflective properties. That will reflect some of the heat or cold back in the direction it came from.   Most companies offer a reflective coat (Low-E) on one pane of their double glass configuration.  But this reflective metallic coating comes in two types: soft and hard.  Soft is more costly to the producer because it is harder to handle, but it also provide better reflective power.  That means more weather stays outside and more, whatever-you-want, stays inside. Bristol Windows adds multiple soft coat Low-E layers to two panes of their triple glass configurations.  This enables the glass to be far superior at keeping temperatures where you want them.

3) High-tech thermal spacers should be between each piece of glass.  If not, heat or cold can radiate inside even if you have triple pane windows.  

4) Companies often put inert gas between the panes.  There is a reason for that.  The gas does a better job of slowing down heat transfer.  Think of a golf ball dropping in pond, now think of it dropping in a vat of peanut butter.  One company, Bristol Windows, uses its own proprietary powerful mix of gasses that imitates peanut butter.

5) Some companies use aluminum as the window frame.  It holds up well, but it can also radiate heat from inside or outside.  For this reason many companies have turned to vinyl as the number one answer for framing material of windows. Vinyl can stops the heat but it can loose its shape on a hot day and you don’t want that. Through time your frames will not close and seal properly.  In the end your energy dollars will be seeping outside.  Look for a company that uses a combination of both vinyl and aluminum.  Bristol developed a method of marrying vinyl to aluminum together.  The aluminum is totally concealed and is also thermally broken so as to prevent transfer of heat or cold to the inside.  You can also go wood, but if you do, you better like to paint and spend many hours doing tedious and costly maintenance.

6) A final vinyl note:  to save money, some manufacturers use hollow vinyl.  This simply will not hold up under weather extremes and nor will it be able to hold anything more than double glass.  Experts recommend no all vinyl windows over 26” wide. Note:  the average size double hung is 32”. Vinyl needs to have chambers designed into the extrusions to provide wall strengthness.

7) The frame can offer a problem in insulation.  If it doesn’t seal tightly, air can pour through.  Look for a company that uses gaskets and weather stripping at crucial areas of the window and sash members.

8) How much can you save with replacement windows?  It can vary with the manufacturer.  You can spend less, and the windows will save you less.

9) A note for do-it-yourselfers:  replacing windows is on the complicated side of home improvements.  It is probably best to leave this part up to the professionals.

10) Finally there is the warranty.  Again, some companies do a better job than others.   Bristol for instance offers a 50-year transferable warranty on the glass and a 3-year breakage clause.

In the end, replacing your windows is an investment in your house’s future value.  If you are still living in a home with energy wasting windows, you are already spending the replacement window costs in higher energy bills each month.  And those bills aren’t about to get smaller.

For more information call:   Winchester at 724-639-3551
Winchester Industries, PO Box 160, 500 Leech Ave, Saltsburg, PA 15681
Email: [email protected]
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