Windows can be one of your home's most attractive features. Windows provide views, daylighting, ventilation, and solar heating in the winter. Unfortunately, they can also account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill. During the summer, sunny windows make your air-conditioner work two to three times harder. If you live in the Sun Belt, look into new solar control spectrally selective windows, which can cut the cooling load by more than half.

If your home has single-pane windows, as almost half of U.S. homes do, consider replacing them. New double-pane windows with high-performance glass (e.g., low-e or spectrally selective) are available on the market. In colder climates, select windows that are gas filled with low-emissivity (low-e) coatings on the glass to reduce heat loss. In warmer climates, select windows with spectrally selective coatings to reduce heat gain. If you are building a new home, you can offset some of the cost of installing more efficient windows because doing so allows you to buy smaller, less expensive heating and cooling equipment.

If you decide not to replace your windows, the simpler, less costly measures listed below can improve the performance of your windows.

Buying New Windows: New windows are long-term investments that have a large impact on your home's energy systems. Today, there are many new window technologies available that are worth considering, especially those with the ENERGY STAR® label. Glazing materials now come with a variety of selective coatings and other features; frames are available in aluminum, wood, vinyl, fiberglass, or combinations of these materials. Each type of glazing material and frame has advantages and disadvantages.

  • Fact:

  • An average household spends more than 40% of its annual energy budget on heating and cooling costs. You could reduce those bills by up to 15% with Energy Star® windows.

  • Cut heating costs in cold regions as much as 39%.

  • Reduce cooling costs by as much as 32% in hot regions.

  • Reduce fading (low E-coating blocks up to 98% of the ultraviolet radiation).

  • Improve your comfort.

  • Improve daylight and view.

  • Improve resale position.

  • Reduce condensation.

  • Best Features: Recent technological advances resulted in great improvements in the thermal performance of energy efficient windows. In selecting your windows...

  • Buy the right window for your region (northern, central, and southern zones).

  • Buy a window with an Energy Star® label--it's 40% more efficient than the required building code.

  • Look for the NFRC label for best performance and comparison shopping.

  • Save Money: Using less energy will always save you money. Buying energy efficient windows will save you money, brighten your home, and bring other benefits. By weatherizing your windows, there are many quick and inexpensive ways to save energy and money:

  • Caulking gaps around the frames.

  • Weather-stripping the sashes.

  • Adding window shades and coverings.

  • Use the power management feature, and your equipment will create less heat, lowering your air-conditioning costs.

  • Set the shortest possible time that is acceptable before your computer automatically powers down.

  • Turn your computer off at night, on weekends, and when left unused for an extended period.

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