DO ENERGY EFFICIENT WINDOWS PAY OFF?

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Investing wisely in the integrity of your home's building envelope
No matter how beautiful the
view from an old window, its inefficiency can contribute to a pretty terrible-looking
energy bill year-round. Sure, maintaining a window’s weatherstripping can trim
the losses, but the better long-run investment with windows of a certain age is
replacement with models that incorporate the latest technologies for great
style

Investing wisely in the integrity of your home's building envelope

No matter how beautiful the

view from an old window, its inefficiency can contribute to a pretty terrible-looking

energy bill year-round. Sure, maintaining a window’s weatherstripping can trim

the losses, but the better long-run investment with windows of a certain age is

replacement with models that incorporate the latest technologies for great

style and valuable savings.

Replacement windows are definitely

an investment, but one for which you’ll see immediate returns in terms of

heating and cooling costs and a more comfortable environment

style='font-family:Arial'>ind

style='font-family:Arial'>oors. What’s more, if you’re looking to sell your

home anytime soon, the installation of quality windows is attractive to

potential buyers and a move that can net a return on investment of around 80

percent, according to

href="http://www.costvsvalue.com/index.html">Remodeling magazine’s 2007 Cost vs. Value Report. Browse the

following guidelines before you shop, and you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of

savings.

style='font-family:Arial'>Replacement vs. new-construction windows

style='font-family:Arial'>

When

window shopping, it’s important to understand the structural differences

between windows designed for new construction and those made to replace

existing models. New-construction

windows incorporate a sort of fin along the outer frame, allowing them to be

installed from the outside of a structure before siding

is applied. Replacement windows, on the other hand, have no such fin or

structural frame, and instead make use of existing window frames for

installation from the inside of the home, with very little disruption to

exterior or interior surfaces. If the existing frame exhibits damage, however,

full-frame replacement windows are also available.

style='font-family:Arial'>What you see on the

style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>labe

style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>l is what

you get

Besides scoping out a size

and style match as you shop for replacement windows, watch for the

style='font-family:Arial'>labe

style='font-family:Arial'>ling that describes energy savings you’ll receive.

Windows bearing the

href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=windows_doors.pr_windows">Energy

Star seal are ind

style='font-family:Arial'>ependently certified to perform at levels meeting or

exceeding strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the

style='font-family:Arial'>U.S.

style='font-family:Arial'> Department of Energy. In addition to the Energy Star

mark, pay attention to information provided on the

href="http://www.nfrc.org/label.aspx">National Fenestration Rating Council’s

(NFRC) energy performance label, found on all windows and skylights. The

style='font-family:Arial'>label

includes the window’s U-factor, a measurement of how well it prevents heat from

escaping; the Solar Heat Gain Coefficienct (SHGC), which tells you how well a

product blocks heat caused by sunlight; the

style='font-family:Arial'>Visible

Transmittance (VT), meaning how much light comes through the model; an Air Leakage

(AL) rating equivalent to the cubic feet of air passing through a square foot

of window area; and Condensation Resistance (CR), measuring the product’s

ability to resist the formation of condensation on its interior surface. These

critical numbers make it possible to comparison shop and select the best

all-around fit for your window replacement needs.

style='font-family:Arial'>How many panes do you need?

Just about any contemporary

multi-pane window will be a vast improvement over the single-pane styles of

old, so the choice between double- and triple-glazed windows comes down to the

amount of draft, sound and UV protection needed for the environment in which

you and your home reside. Low-emissivity (a.k.a. Low-E) glass is now common in

both glazing formats, and has a thin layer of metal oxide coating that allows

UV-filtered sunlight to pass through while keeping interior heat from escaping.

Double-glazed windows incorporate this feature into a system with two layers of

glass separated with a spacer and the insulation of air or a safe, colorless,

odorless gas, working together to keep comfort indoors and weather’s impacts

outdoors. Triple-glazed models add a third layer of glass along with impact

resistance and sound insulation, but extra heft and expense are also part of

the deal. Go with triple-glazed windows only if you live in the kind of extreme

climate that makes these extras worthwhile.

style='font-family:Arial'>Advances in glass

Consumer focus on energy

savings, easy care and overall product efficiency is spurring innovations where

window technologies are concerned. For example,

href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=windows_doors.pr_windows">Andersen

Windows and Doors has just introduced a SmartSun glass that helps reduce

energy consumption in the home while providing year-round thermal protection

and attractive visibility. Going beyond standard solar glazings that control

heat gain through tinting, SmartSun glass is formulated with an additional

microscopic layer of silver that controls the amount of infrared energy

transmitted, allows a higher level of visible light, and blocks 95 percent of

ultraviolet rays for protection of furniture, carpets and wallcoverings. This

solution also complements one developed for those of you who don’t do windows:

Andersen’s High-Performance Low-E4 glass, which has an exterior coating that,

when activated by sunlight, reduces water spots by up to 99 percent, promotes

faster drying, and helps cut down on dirt buildup.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show’s podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weeklye-newsletter, visit the program's website.

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