New windows make good energy sense
Are your windows leaking air? Are they getting more difficult to open? Is the wood frame rotting?
Homeowners choose to replace their windows for a variety of reasons, from energy efficiency to esthetics.
“It might be the seals have failed or the wood has rotted,” said Kerry Haglund, senior research fellow at the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota.
Or homeowners might be looking to replace leaky windows to keep heat or air conditioning in, or they might want added UV protection for furniture.
New windows can be costly and you won’t make up the cost in energy savings or home resale,” said Better Homes and Gardens senior editor Kit Selzer.
Still, new energy-efficient windows can make your home more attractive and comfortable. Haglund recommends choosing the most energy-efficient window you can.
The cost for a new window can range from hundreds of dollars to $1,000 or more, depending on the frame, style — double-hung or casement, for example — and whether you choose single, double or triple pane glass. Decorative elements can add to the price.
A casement window might be a good option in windy areas, said Gary Pember, vice-president of marketing for Simonton Windows. “As the wind increases, they become more efficient because of the way they seal,” he said.
A double-hung that opens only from the top might be a good choice for increased security, he said.
Homeowners planning to stay in their homes as they age might want to consider a non-lift window.
Frames come in wood, vinyl, aluminum and other materials. The more traditional wood frame requires regular painting.
“If you’re wanting something maintenance-free, you can’t get anything better than vinyl,” Pember said. There are many options now for vinyl frames, including a variety of colours. You can also get a wood interior and a vinyl exterior.
Aluminum frames are more contemporary but also more expensive.
While Haglund urges homeowners not to scrimp on energy efficiency, she said there are other ways to save money short of full window replacement.
A new window can be fitted into existing frames that are in good condition, she said. Or, you can replace just the sash — the part of the window that contains the glass — but only if the frame is in good condition.
If you decide not to invest in new windows, you can increase the energy efficiency of your existing ones, for instance with storm windows, Selzer said.
Seal leaks around the frame with caulking or weatherstripping.
Insulating draperies and window treatments can help. “They’re so much more tailored and thinner than they used to be,” she said. “Old insulating treatments were very bulky, like putting up blankets. Now, they’re certainly sleek and more effective.
Energy-efficient windows will save on energy costs, protect from heat and cold and boost curb appeal.