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Illinois Country Living

October 2007 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest CookingMore

Energy Solutions

Windows -- Why Wait?
After you've completed other energy improvements, windows could be next.

Doug Rye
King of Caulk
and Talk

CW + OIW = UH There's no need to worry, y'all - this isn't algebra class. The above formula is quite simple. It stands for: cold weather, plus old inefficient windows, equals unhappy homeowner.

Folks, cold weather is just starting. And at least once a day I get asked about replacement windows. Let's take a look at this very important subject by first considering these facts:

  • Windows account for a large portion of your energy
  • costs - typically anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of the heating and cooling costs of your home.
  • Windows are very important to your comfort.
  • Most window salesmen will say that you need new windows and that they have the perfect window for you.

Yes, windows are very important, but do you really need to replace your existing windows? Here are the questions to ask:

  • If your windows have only one pane of glass, you would greatly benefit from new energy-efficient replacement windows.
  • If your windows are just worn out (leaking, hard to open, hard to close, glass fogs, etc.) you might well benefit.
  • If your windows "sweat" in the winter, you probably would benefit.

Many of you are thinking that your answers to these questions show that you do need new windows. And you would love to have new replacement windows because they would make your house look more modern, make it more comfortable, lower your utility bills and increase its value. Everybody would love this, so why doesn't everyone replace their old windows?

Well, it's no secret that replacement windows are not cheap. I just completed a series of columns designed to show you how to increase the energy-efficiency of your house without spending a lot of money. You may wish to go back and review those. If you have implemented those items, it may be time to consider replacement windows. Maybe you CAN afford it.

This is an example from a 1,600-square-foot house built in 1974. The house has 12 windows. The cost to replace them with vinyl, double-glazed windows with low-e glass and argon gas is $9,000. If you finance $9,000 for five years at 9 percent, your monthly payment would be about $186. If you finance $9,000 for 15 years at 9 percent, your monthly payment would be $90.

Let's suppose that this improvement lowers your utility bills by $50 per month. In real life, it only costs you $40 per month to have these new windows that you have wanted for years. In many cases, the monthly energy savings have been greater than the additional monthly payment for the windows. And federal tax credits are also available to those who install energy-efficient replacement windows.

I hope this example will help you determine whether you can afford to make this improvement. Of course, as in all fine print, costs may vary depending on just about everything. If you should decide to look at this option, you certainly want a quality window and installer. You can find them in the Yellow Pages of your phone book. Ask these questions when talking to installers.

  • May I have three references of your jobs?
  • What is the total U value and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of the windows as tested by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)?

I suggest that the total U value be at .35 or less. The lower the U value, the better. I suggest that the SHGC value be .33 or less.

There is a new generation of windows that have three panes of glass, two low-e coatings and are filled with krypton-enhanced gas. Krypton reminds us of Superman, so I call them super windows. The super windows are now available in many areas. The U value of these windows is about .2 and the SHGC value is about .33.

They truly are super-performing windows. The price of a super window will be about double the cost of the double-paned windows, but the labor costs for installation should be about the same.

Good luck with your decision on replacement windows and if you have more questions, feel free to call me at 501-653-7931.

Stay tuned for more from Doug Rye
The “Doctor of Energy Efficiency—the King of Caulk and Talk”

In the mean time you can go to his Web site:
E-mail him at
or call (888)-Doug-Rye or (501) 653-7931

You can also sign up for a free newsletter and order his “how to” videotapes.

You can now listen to my radio show live on the Internet at 9:05 a.m. on Saturdays. Just go to

© 2007 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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