Summer is in full swing, and families across America are thinking about ways to stay cool when the heat hits. For many, this means running the air conditioner all day, which unfortunately also means energy bills that can spike even the calmest person’s blood pressure. Since it’s safe to say the heat isn’t going anywhere any time soon, it’s time to think about how to stay cool without losing your wallet to your energy provider.
There are small, simple ways to save energy during the hot months. For example, in lieu of running the air conditioner, open your windows and use fans during the cooler hours of the day. Change your light bulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs (which also give off less heat than their incandescent and fluorescent counterparts). Hang-dry your clothes instead of running the dryer. Any one of these tips will help, and together, they can add up.
But what about something that will make a more impactful and permanent dent in your energy costs? Michael Bohm, owner of BM Windows, a , makes a strong argument for installing new energy-efficient windows in your home in his most recent e-book, .
Why New Windows?
You’ve probably heard of a house “settling” into its foundation over time, and it’s not a myth. The combination of gravity and exposure to the elements causes all buildings to sink further into the ground, and as this happens, the frames and walls shift ever so slightly. The affects windows in the sense that small gaps and cracks begin to appear around window frames, allowing air into (or out of) the building. By replacing your home’s windows, those gaps will be filled, allowing the cool air from your air conditioner to stay inside where you want it!
Another factor consider is what material your windows are made out of. In older homes, you may have aluminum window frames, and like most metals, aluminum is a poor insulator. If it’s hot outside, the frames will easily heat up, bringing unwanted heat into your home and forcing your air conditioner to work harder. A higher-quality, less conductive material like vinyl can go a long way towards increasing your home’s energy efficiency.
This may not seem like it would add up to much, but according to Bohm, replacing old aluminum-framed single pane windows with double pane windows with vinyl frames can reduce your energy bills by up to 15%. That’s significant!
Are All Replacement Windows Equally Energy Efficient?
Replacement windows are like any product in that not all are of the same quality. Fortunately, the replacement window industry has several standards by which consumers can compare different products, making it easier to figure out which ones will be the best for your home.
The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) is the independent organization responsible for providing energy efficiency ratings for windows, doors, and skylights. Their rating system is broken down into four categories: U-factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, Visible Transmittance, and Air Leakage. When shopping for window products, look for the white NFRC label, where you will find all of that product’s ratings.
Each of the above categories is important for different reasons, but depending on where you live and what your main concern with your windows is, some may be more important than others. For keeping your home cool in summer months (or in parts of the country where it’s hot year-round), the Solar Heat Coefficient and Visible Transmittance numbers will be the most relevant. A low Solar Heat Coefficient means less heat comes into the home though the window, and a low Visible Transmittance number means less light will pass through the window and into the home.
It’s wonderful that the NFRC has a system that is decipherable to the consumer, but it can still be helpful to have the assistance of professionals when choosing new windows for your home. After all, replacement windows are a significant investment, and you want to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Check your area for a local company like the at BM Windows.
Are New Windows Worth the Investment?
In a word, yes. Obviously, replacing all of the windows in your home with new energy-efficient windows does come with a cost. However, according to Bohm at BM Windows, this is one of the major home improvement projects where you’re likely to recoup your investment and then some. Depending on how long you stay in your home, your new windows may pay for themselves through the energy savings alone. Even if not, the added curb appeal will allow you to increase the sale price of your home enough to make the investment more than worth it when it’s time to sell.
Stay Cool, Keep Your Energy Bills Low
Energy efficiency is on many people’s minds these days, and that’s especially true now that we’re hitting the hottest part of the year. You don’t have to sacrifice your comfort just to save a dime. Plenty can be done to keep your energy bills manageable, but if you’re looking to make a big impact that will last for years to come, consider replacing your windows with new energy-efficient ones. As Bohm says in his e-book and elsewhere, most customers who do it end up saying they wish they’d done it much sooner.