Nowadays, there are as many ways to upgrade your home’s energy usage as there are paint colors. Almost. Solar panels, geothermal energy or HVAC, appliances, energy efficient toilets and faucets, the list goes on. While you’ve probably invested in most of these things already (get those government and seller rebates while they’re hot!) one area that you might not be thinking about is your windows.

The Benefits
You home leaks. Foundational shifts are typical, especially as the house ages, which can create gaps between the walls and windows. On average, your windows attribute to 35% of your home’s heat loss. Often times you can caulk around the seams where air is escaping, but that only does so much. To really trust that you’re able to lock in the heat and air (and reduce the amount of money you spend heating and cooling your house) replacing your windows will do the trick.

The Savings
Some energy upgrades save more money than others. When it comes to major systems like solar and geothermal, the cost is great but the savings are even greater. You’re likely to make back your money in savings within a decade or less. Energy Efficient windows are also a costly upgrade, but they take substantially longer to pay off in savings than other green efforts. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider updating your windows to energy efficient models. But when it comes to creating a hierarchy of investments, windows are better kept a little lower on the rungs compared to appliances and energy sources.

Cosmetics
If you’re looking for a way to increase your home’s face value, new windows instantly provide a fresh new look for your home’s exterior. It doesn’t matter if your house has more of a classic country cottage style or leans all the way in to contemporary modernism. There’s a window style that will fit your visual needs and help lock in heat and air better.

Types of Windows
The wonderful thing about energy efficient windows is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. Why is that so great? Doesn’t that make the decision making process even harder with more variety to choose from? You’d think that. But the reality is that climate varies from state to state. Living up north you’re more likely to need your heating system more frequently than someone who lives in sunny SoCal. The EPA has a website for you to check the specifics of what you’ll be needing when it comes to new windows in your specific region.

You’ll want to be sure you’re purchasing the right frame for your region – and how they conduct heat, like aluminium or vinyl compared to wood or fiberglass. Glazings and glass (double v. single paned) will also affect the heat transfer. Low-emissivity glazes cost 10% – 15% more, but they also reduces heat loss by 30% – 50%. Gas fillers for your windows are a feature that help reduce heat transfer. Your most typical options are argon or krypton, both of which are non-toxic and odorless.

In summation, you may not pay off these new windows as quickly as you would switching to Solar or Geothermal energy. But your home will run more efficiently than before. If you’ve made every other upgrade possible to turn your home into a lean, mean, green energy machine, energy efficient windows are the next step in the right direction.