ENERGY STAR Windows - Are They Worth It?
Have you determined that your home needs a window replacement? (If you're unsure, feel free to check out our blog post on Signs That You Need Replacement Windows). If so, you may have noticed the ENERGY STAR stickers on several replacement window models. What does having the ENERGY STAR sticker mean, and are they worth their price tag?
Defining ENERGY STAR Windows
ENERGY STAR windows must be manufactured by an ENERGY STAR manufacturer, independently tested and verified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), and have NFRC ratings that meet energy efficient guidelines that are set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Through the testing, the NFRC then assigns a rating. The rating serves two purposes: 1) it signifies that a product displays high energy efficiency performance, and 2) it works well for your particular climate.
Determining how energy efficient your windows are will depend on your geographic location. After all, some windows were manufactured to keep you warm, while others keep you cool. Thus, it is important to choose windows that are rated for where you live to experience the best bang for your buck.
To find your location's climate according to the NFRC, click here.
The ENERGY STAR Seal
Clearly, the ENERGY STAR sticker represents the best of the best available. After all, becoming an ENERGY STAR partner reflects the upmost commitment to energy efficiency.
What can you expect to see from an ENERGY STAR window? While the features of ENERGY STAR windows may vary, it is common to see several features, including: quality frame materials, multiple glass panes, low-e glass, gas filling, and spacers. Each of these features help to make a window component more energy efficient.
Frame Material: Quality frame materials can help produce better insulation.
Multiple Glass Panes: Two, or even three or four, panes of glass provide greater energy efficiency, durability, and insulation.
Low E-Glass: Low E-glass has special coatings that reflects heat energy into or out of the house for enhanced insulation. Such glass also helps to reflect ultraviolet (UV) rays, which will help to protect your home's furniture, materials, and decor from UV fading.
Gas Filling: Many energy efficient windows include gas between the panes. These non-toxic and colorless gases include argon, krypton, and others. The gases offer better insulation than regular air.
Spacers: Spacers help to keep the glass panes the correct distance apart to reduce heat transfer and to help prevent condensation.
Luckily, ENERGY STAR windows are available in several frame materials. This includes fiberglass, aluminum, wood, vinyl, and composite. Therefore, there are energy efficient windows available for any home type!
Worth the Cost?
It is important to keep in mind that replacement window prices vary. Typically, a higher price tag is associated with a more energy efficient window. However, once the initial costs are digested you can experience energy savings, and in turn, money saved. According to energy.gov, "Traditional window materials...do a poor job of keeping out the cold and excessive heat. If you have these windows in your home, you are likely spending hundreds of dollars a year more in home heating and cooling costs than you would with the latest ENERGY STAR qualified windows."
While replacement windows are a huge investment, ENERGY STAR windows provide several benefits, including increased comfort, decreased energy usage, improved curb appeal, and money saved over the long term. Energy.gov estimates that ENERGY STAR windows can save you 7-15% on energy bills, which can lead to a yearly savings of $71-$501. These estimates will depend on the types of windows that were replaced and your location's climate.
Interested in installing ENERGY STAR windows? Feel free to contact us to schedule a free consultation and find out how much you should be saving!