Daily Dupaco

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Calculating cost and payback of energy savings

Should you invest in replacement windows?

If you've thought about replacing your home's windows to reap the benefits of energy savings, take a step back and reevaluate your options.

Why? When new Energy Star replacement windows are installed correctly, the replacements can save homeowners between 7 and 15 percent on their energy bills, according to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

But there's a hefty price tag that comes with those "savings": The average person will pay between $7,500 and $10,000 to replace all of the house's windows, according to Energy Star.

"The payback is very slow and very long when it comes to replacing windows," says Alliant Energy spokesman Justin Foss. "Oftentimes, the energy lost through your windows can be solved by doing some other things that don't include replacing them."

If your main concern with your windows is energy efficiency, Foss recommends trying some of these easy tricks to get more bang for your buck:

  • Put caulk around the windows to help seal them properly to the house.
  • Replace insulation around your windows. "In my house, they had installed new windows in the basement. One night I went down there and I could feel a breeze," Foss says. "I took the trim off and there was no insulation between the window and the foundation. Then it doesn't matter how nice a window you put in. It wasn't sealed correctly to have any effect."
  • Install blinds or curtains on all of your windows, and use them, especially when you're not there or when the sun is shining into that room. 
  • Plant shade trees in your yard to help cool your home.  
  • Open your windows at night, when it's cooler, and shut them before you leave for work.  
  • Request an energy audit from your utility provider, many of which offer them at no cost to their customers. An audit can help you determine where you'll reap the most energy savings. Alliant customers can call 1-866-ALLIANT or find information, including rebates for window replacements, online.

If energy savings would be an added bonus to a need to replace your windows - perhaps they're beyond repair - Foss has some advice for you: Make sure it's an Energy Star window qualified for the zone that you live in.

"What qualifies as an Energy Star window in Florida isn't the same as what qualifies as an Energy Star window in Iowa," he says.  "We've seen cases where people buy Energy Star windows, and lo and behold it's for a different zone. They don't get the energy saving benefits they thought they were getting."

By Emily Kittle

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