How Bad Windows Impact Your Energy Bill

Types of different windows

Windows are an essential part of any home, but did you know that they can also significantly impact your energy bill? Windows that are old, damaged, or poorly insulated can let in a lot of heat in the summer and cold in the winter, leading to higher energy costs.

So if you’re ready to start saving money, read on for more information about how bad windows can impact your energy bill.

How Bad Windows Impact Your Energy Bill

How often do you think about your windows? Unless they’re cracked, peeling, or otherwise in disrepair, chances are you don’t give them a second thought. However, suppose your home has old, inefficient windows. In that case, you may wonder how much they’re costing you in terms of higher utility bills. Unfortunately, the fact is, leaky, drafty windows can have a major impact on your energy costs.

The biggest portion of American homeowners’ utility bills is dedicated to heating and cooling their homes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 45% of the average American’s utility bill is dedicated to heating, while another 9% is dedicated to cooling. In other words, over half of our utility bills go to either heating or cooling!

If you’re looking to reduce your energy costs this year, make sure to take a look at your windows and identify any areas that need improvement. Replacing your old windows with new, energy-efficient models is one of the best ways to reduce your energy costs and save money on your monthly bills.

Why Leaky, Inefficient Windows Are A Problem

Leaky windows can cause your heater or air conditioner to run more often than necessary, wasting energy and resulting in higher utility bills. This is because your HVAC system has to work harder to achieve the temperature that you set on your thermostat if the warm or cool air is just leaking out the windows of your home.

In the winter, heat escapes through cracks and gaps in your windows, causing your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm. This can lead to higher energy consumption and increased wear and tear on your HVAC system. In the summer, hot air can enter through those same cracks and gaps, making your air conditioner work harder to keep your home cool. This can lead to higher cooling bills and increased wear and tear on your AC unit.

In short, inefficient windows can cause heat loss in winter and increased cooling costs in summer. So if you’re looking to save money on your next utility bill, make sure to factor in the price of a new window installation when you’re doing your budgeting. Replacing just one window can save you hundreds of dollars over the window’s lifetime.

How New Energy-Efficient Windows Can Help You Save Money

Various styles of energy efficient windows.

It’s no secret that old, drafty windows can significantly increase your energy costs. But how much of a difference can new windows make? 

New types of energy-efficient windows can help you save a significant amount of money. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, most households could save $71-$501 annually on their heating and cooling costs by replacing their old windows with new energy-efficient insulated windows. Energy-efficient windows are designed to keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer, making it easier to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home and resulting in significant savings on your energy bill. Installing energy-efficient windows can also help reduce noise pollution and make your home more peaceful.

Another aspect of new, energy-efficient windows is their energy-efficiency ratings. Let’s take a closer look at the various window energy-efficiency ratings and what they mean when it comes to picking the right windows for your home.

Window Energy-Efficiency Ratings

Before we delve into the process of picking out the best windows for your home, let’s get more familiarized with some standard window energy-efficiency rating terms:

U-Value: The U-value is a number that represents the rate at which a window transmits non-solar heat flow. There are two slightly different ways the U-value is utilized when it comes to windows. The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label uses the U-value rating to represent the entire window performance, including the frame and spacer material. If the U-value is not on an NFRC label, the U-value number may only represent the efficiency of the glass. The most important takeaway is that the lower the U-value, the more energy efficient the window is.

R-Value: The R-value is the inverse of the U-value. So while the U-value measures the heat transfer rate through the glass, the R-value measures heat resistance. In practical terms, you’ll want to get windows with a low U-value and a high R-value.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): This measures the amount of sunlight that penetrates a window and converts it into heat inside the home. A lower SHGC means the window is shading the interior of your home by blocking more solar radiation. A higher SHGC rating allows more solar heat in. When it comes to energy efficiency, you want a lower SHGC rating for hot, sunny climates and a higher SHGC rating for cold climates. So the environment in which your home is located and the orientation of a particular window will play a major role in what SHGC rating you should aim for.

ENERGY STAR: ENERGY STAR-qualified windows are energy-efficient windows that meet specific criteria established by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). They have specific energy-efficient features, including:

  • Double or triple-paned glass, with inert gas in between the panes
  • Spacers that separate the glass panes, reducing heat flow and preventing condensation
  • Window frame insulation materials
  • Special coatings on the glass that reflect heat energy and UV light

Single-Paned vs Double-Paned Windows

A double paned window cross section on a closed window sill.

Single-paned windows do a poor job of keeping out the cold or keeping the heat in. As noted above, all ENERGY STAR-qualified windows have, at a minimum, double-paned glass. So when shopping for new windows, look for those with an ENERGY STAR label. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing single-pane windows with double or triple-paned ENERGY STAR-qualified windows can save you 7%-15% on annual household energy costs. ENERGY STAR-qualified windows typically have a U-factor between 0.27 and 0.3—meaning they’re very effective at preventing heat loss. For comparison, most single-pane clear glass windows have a U-factor of 1 or higher (meaning they’re not very efficient at all). 

Double-paned windows also have two layers of glass separated by an insulating gas like argon or krypton; this gas helps prevent heat transfer between the inside and outside surfaces of the window, making double-paned models much more efficient than single panes. Per ENERGY STAR, a typical home that switches from single-pane to double-pane ENERGY STAR-qualified windows will save $101 to $583 a year.

So upgrading your old single-pane windows to double-pane windows is one of the most impactful things you can do to lower your overall energy costs.

How To Maintain Your Windows For Optimal Energy Efficiency 

The condition of your windows can significantly impact your home’s energy efficiency. So, once you’ve replaced your old windows with new ones, it’s essential to take steps to ensure they remain in good condition, so they continue performing at their best. 

Here are a few ways to keep your windows in tip-top shape for optimal energy efficiency:

  • Check for air leaks around the window frames and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping. If you see water damage around the window sill, be sure to consult our guide to repairing water damage around window sills
  • Inspect the window glass for any cracks or holes and repair them with clear tape or a window repair kit
  • Make sure the window hardware is functioning correctly and lubricate it if necessary
  • Clean the window glass regularly (both inside and out) to remove dirt, dust, and other debris

By taking these simple steps, you can rest assured that your new windows will continue helping you save money on your energy costs for years to come.

There are also extra steps you can take to mitigate the risk of damage to your windows and lessen your overall energy bill:

  • If your windows have storm panels or removable screens, be sure to remove them before severe weather hits and store them in a safe place until they are needed again
  • When opening or closing blinds, shades, or drapes, do so gently to avoid damaging them
  • In the winter, keep draperies and blinds open during the daytime to allow sunlight to enter your home and help warm it naturally. Close them at night to provide an extra layer of insulation against heat loss
  • In the summer, close draperies and blinds during the daytime to block out sunlight and keep your home cooler
  • Open your windows at night to allow cool air from outside to circulate throughout your home (this would only apply if your HVAC system is turned off!)
  • On extremely hot days, use fans in conjunction with air conditioning to improve airflow and increase comfort

Urban Exteriors Can Install Your New Energy-Efficient Windows

Replacing old leaky windows with new efficient ones is one of the best ways to reduce bad windows’ impact on your energy costs. Newer models have improved tremendously in recent years in their ability to conserve energy. 

Doing some research on which type of window works best for you is a critical part of the process. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping, as this guarantees the window meets strict EPA guidelines. Comparing different models based on NFRC ratings is another way to ensure you’re getting a good product. Lastly, remember to clean and repair your new windows as needed, so you maintain their energy efficiency benefits.

Have any questions or want more information? Please fill out our contact form today! We would be happy to help.