How can replacing windows help me save on utility bills?

Are your utility bills a bit overwhelming? New, energy efficient windows can help you pinch your pennies in more ways than you think.
When it comes to high utility bills, there are numerous things you can do to help bring the dollars down.

You can utilize energy-efficient appliances, make a more conscious effort to turn lights off, replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs...the list goes on.

Although these things add up to a substantial reduction in your spending, few changes you can make pack as big of a bill-reducing punch as replacing your old windows. And it's for more reasons than you may think.

The more window panes you have, the better.

If you've never replaced your windows, it's likely that they're only single-pane glass. This means that there are only a few millimeters between the inside of your home and the great outdoors.

New windows take a different approach, using multiple panes of glass in their design. But that's only a few more millimeters of thickness, right? True, but the panes are separated from each other, creating a pocket of air that acts as insulation and helps maintain the temperature on the inside of your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows can lower a household's energy bills by 7 to 15 percent. (Learn more about the anatomy of an ENERGY STAR qualified window)

Low conduction means high savings.

Take a look at your window frames. Are they aluminum? Steel? Any kind of metal? Probably so. Metal-framed windows are excellent at conducting hot and cold temperatures. This is not a good thing. It means that the temperature outside is flowing inside your home almost as if the window was open. Makes you wonder why they can even close, doesn't it?

If you look at how new windows are framed, you'll find materials like vinyl, wood, and fiberglass. All these materials are great at insulating rather than conducting heat and cold-many windows are even built with insulation within the frame. This makes for a much more efficient barrier between the temperatures inside and outside your home. And if your windows do a better job at blocking the outside temperature, your furnace and air conditioner don't have to work as hard to keep it comfortable inside. That's called a win-win in utility bill terms.

Just what is low-E?

It used to be that glass was just glass. Not anymore. Not only do you now find tempered glass that adds thickness, durability, safety, and insulation, but there has also been a rise in low-emittance (or low-E) technology. This microscopically thin coating on glass has three primary purposes, which all work together to impact your utility bill in a positive way.

First, it acts like sun block for your home, allowing minimal solar heat to pass through and radiate inside during the summer. Second, it acts like a jacket, preventing heat from escaping through your windows in the winter. And third, it's a bit like a layer of (clear) tinting that allows plenty of visible light through while blocking harmful rays. And all that natural light can also reduce the need for expensive artificial lighting. Again, it's another win-win.

Ready to trade in those old windows for some new, energy-efficient, cost-saving windows? You can find excellent window contractors in your area on Kudzu.com. They can consult you on the best windows for your home and install them for you.

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