Don't Let Your Energy Go Out the Window

Posted by Ellen Milich

With the economy in the state it’s in, my husband and I have been looking at ways to upgrade our home rather than moving. The first order of business has been the windows, as we realized how much money and energy we were likely losing out of them. I began researching the various options to see what the best course of action would be, repairing or replacing them with argon-filled windows. Turns out replacement is far the better option and now is a great time to do so because under the new economic stimulus plan homeowners receive a tax credit of up to $1,500 for upgrading their home with energy efficient building components and reduce their income tax by up to thirty percent of the purchase price on qualified products installed in 2009 and 2010 (1).

Moreover, it’s staggering the amount of energy lost out of substandard windows. According to one website, “Windows represent the single largest opportunity for improvement. 39% of all emissions are tied to building operations, with 38% of that for heating and cooling. Up to 40% of that energy – and cost – literally goes out the window. This wasted energy results in over 250 million tons of emissions per year” (2). 250 million tons!!! And that’s only considering homes within the United States. Consider the amount that must be wasted if we take into account all industrialized nations.

It’s tougher to estimate what it costs per home to replace old windows as each home size differs as well as amount and size of windows, but generally a consumer could expect to spend a few thousand dollars, an amount that will (again depending on home size and climate) pay itself off in savings in a two to ten year time range.
The only setback I see to this form of upgrade is one we see often with “going green” and that’s the upfront cost. For lots of homeowners paying that amount of money is out of the questions regardless of the long term savings. As time goes on and new construction picks up again this problem will become less prevalent since building codes are constantly being revised to require builders to use more efficient products. For those of us with older homes and lower quality windows the savings is undeniable and if it is within your price range the long term benefits are well worth the switch.