Energy-efficient lighting is always a big topic on our Light Reading blog. Today, thanks to Jim Klossner, a home and garden writer, we are able to put a focus on another big energy-efficient topic – windows and doors. There is some great information in this post about figuring out if it is time to upgrade your windows and doors and the options available. Enjoy!
When it comes to energy costs in the home, heating and cooling are a major factor. Many of the weakest points in your home’s fight for thermal efficiency are the windows and doors. This is especially true of older homes or those with large entryways and windows. Most retailers make it sound like the only fix for this is to buy the latest, greatest doors and windows. While newer energy efficient doors and windows can offer benefits in the right situations, are they truly worth the time and cost investment?
When to Consider Upgrading Existing Doors and Windows
The benefits offered by these upgrades are largely dependent on your existing windows and doors. One of the biggest factors to consider is the current configuration and the seal of the windows or doors in question. Single pane windows and metal doors offer little in terms of insulation and thermal resistance. They are especially prone to temperature changes due to wind. Combine this with aging seals, weak frames or shoddy installation and you have the perfect recipe for a drafty home and expensive energy bills.
Advantages of Energy Efficient Doors and Windows
Energy efficient doors are often made of materials such as fiberglass, vinyl or wood. These materials reduce the thermal conductivity of the door and help to maintain separate temperature zones on both sides of the door. High-quality seals and frames help to improve these characteristics by ensuring that your heater or air conditioner is not leaking its efforts into the surrounding area. This means easier regulation of temperatures during high or low periods and lower monthly energy bills.
Energy efficient windows employ other tactics to boost their efficiency. In most cases, these windows will utilize multiple panes of glass that have been injected with special gasses or vacuum-sealed to help insulate the window. This means less heat or cold transfer between both sides of the glass. Most windows are also equipped with reinforced seals and sturdy locks to ensure that air leakage is kept to a minimum.
Disadvantages of Energy Efficient Doors and Windows
The biggest disadvantage to upgrading to energy efficient doors or windows is the cost. While tax credits and energy savings can help to reimburse the total cost of the window, it might take a year or more to fully recoup the cost of the project and start seeing true savings. This is particularly true if you are having the windows professionally installed as labor costs can add a fair amount to the final bill. Custom windows, such as bay or curved windows, are also costly as these units must often be made to fit your specific needs.
Should you decide to install the windows and doors yourself, another disadvantage to upgrading is the time investment. While it is possible to install your own windows and doors, this is a weekend project at best. It could take much longer if you are unfamiliar with the process. After the windows or doors are in place, new hardware must be installed, trim replaced and dressings hung or mounted. All of this takes time and money.
Are Energy Efficient Doors and Windows Worth It?
If your windows and doors are aging and you plan to be at the property for an extended period, upgrading is probably a good idea. Estimates show annual savings ranging from seven to 24-percent. The key to maximizing your savings is allowing enough time for the investment to pay off. While this project is unlikely to produce savings in a matter of months, it is almost guaranteed to save you money over the course of a few years.
About the author: When Jim Klossner is not writing about home and garden topics, you can find him reviewing Glenview plumbers or working on his numerous hot rod vehicles.