Windows That Work With Your Wallet

Replacing old windows makes your house more comfortable and comes with a small savings bonus.

green_0401_energy_windows

By: Karin Beuerlein

Windows that are more than 15 years old can be keeping your home from prime efficiency and better comfort. Replacing them with energy efficient models will keep your house much more temperate and reduce the workload on your HVAC system. Still, don't expect to recoup your initial outlay quickly.

Keep in mind, windows don't offer the return in energy savings that some home improvement projects do. Most likely, you'll see only a 7 percent to 15 percent reduction on your monthly bill, and models can net you as much as 35 percent. Homeowners who see savings at the upper end of the range have highly inefficient windows, such as single-pane clear glass windows, and are located in warm climates where energy costs are primarily related to cooling.

You should consider replacing your windows to make your house more beautiful and comfortable, not to save money. Given the substantial price tag, you won't recoup your investment through energy savings for many years, if at all. If you're planning to sell your house, you can expect a 60 percent to 70 percent return on your investment in increased home value, but in these uncertain times, that number is highly dependent on your local real estate market.

Choosing New Energy Efficient Windows

Windows aren't a one-size-fits-all product in terms of energy efficiency. In warmer climates, it's more important that windows reflect heat in the summer. In colder climates, the best windows act as insulators in winter, trapping heat inside the house.

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labels windows according to scientific measurements known as U-factor (which measures how well a window insulates) and solar heat gain coefficient (which measures how well it blocks heat from the sun). The measurements are for the entire window system, including the frame, because different frame materials such as vinyl and wood affect the window's performance.

If you want to dig deeper, check out the Efficient Windows Collaborative's Window Selection Tool. You can also research window technologies such as glazing, frames, low-emission coatings and gas fills to see what combination best suits your needs.

But if you want a shortcut to finding windows that will trim your energy bills, just look for the Energy Star label above the NFRC measurements. The Energy Star label uses a map to highlight the geographic areas where the window meets Energy Star standards.

Installing Windows Yourself

Labor is a substantial part of the cost of a window replacement project, starting at about $150 per window and going up with the level of difficulty involved. Therefore, if you have reasonably advanced carpentry skills, you'll see significant savings if you install your windows yourself. But incorrectly installed windows won't make your house more comfortable and they definitely won't give you the energy savings you want. So don't be tempted to cheap it out if you aren't sure you're up to the task.

Also be wary of contractors who charge rock-bottom rates for window installation. As with any major remodeling job, always check references before you sign on the dotted line.

Next Up

Save With Home Insulation

Addressing leaky ducts and adding attic insulation can save you significantly on your energy bills.

Can You Fix a Broken Window Seal?

Find out if you should DIY or call a pro when your thermopane window has moisture in between the panes of glass.

Windows Buying Guide

Learn the pros and cons of different types of windows, the various styles and latest trends.

Windows Buying Guide

Your goals for replacing windows are to improve your home's beauty, performance and operation.

How to Wash Windows

Our favorite window washing technique includes a secret ingredient: vinegar! Learn how to clean your windows inside and out with this simple DIY solution.

How to Clean Window Screens

Cleaning aluminum and fiberglass window screens helps them last longer and makes them easier to see out of from indoors. Get tips for the easiest way to clean window screens.

How to Replace a Window

When it's time to replace an outdated, inefficient window, it can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve got everything you need to know to get the job done.

8 Ways to Fix Drafty Windows

Save money and stay warm this winter with these DIY ways to insulate and weather-strip windows as well as doors.

10 Tips for Maintaining a Wood-Burning Fireplace

There are many advantages to using a wood-burning fireplace, including saving money on heating costs. We have a few tips that will keep your fireplace in proper shape so you can enjoy it for years to come.

How to Insulate an Attic

Whether your attic is finished or unfinished, choosing proper insulation requires a fair amount of planning. Learn more about batts-and-blankets, rigid foam and loose-fill insulation options that will help keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.