Are Energy-Efficient Windows Worth It?

by Kaia Koglin
worker installing mosquito net wire screen on house window

If you’re about to start renovations on your home, or you’re building an addition, you may be wondering if energy-efficient windows are worth the investment.

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Generally, the answer is yes, but it really depends on the current state of your windows, the size of your house and your average energy use. Energy-efficient windows can lower your energy bills, increase the value of your home and lessen your carbon footprint.

How Do Energy-Efficient Windows Work?

Windows can be made energy efficient in a number of ways. All work by adding insulation, so heat stays inside in winter and outside in summer.

Low-E glass is one such option. It has a thin, transparent coating that reflects infrared light. This is the type of sunlight that transmits heat. In summer, the heat from the sun is reflected back outside, keeping it out of the house. The reverse happens in winter.

Another common energy-efficient design involves multiple panes of glass. Double-pane windows are built using two sheets of glass. The panes are kept apart with a spacer, and an inert gas is inserted in that space. This is an extra insulating layer that stops heat from transmitting. Triple pane glasses work the same way but have an extra sheet of glass, so there are two layers of insulating gas.

If you’re getting energy-efficient glass, it’s also important to have quality frame materials. This ensures drafts can’t travel through cracks or holes around the windows.

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What Are the Benefits of Energy-Efficient Windows?

With energy-efficient windows, you use less energy for heating and cooling your home. This can save you money on energy bills. Quality windows can also boost the value of your home. You’re likely to get a good return on your investment when you’re ready to sell.

Low-E glass can protect your belongings. UV rays can cause floors, carpets and furniture to fade. This type of glass stops those damaging rays from entering your home.

Finally, energy-efficient windows are good for the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, replacing outdated windows with Energy Star-certified products can save as much as 6,205 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to 317 gallons of gasoline.

How Much Do Energy-Efficient Windows Cost Compared to Normal Windows?

The cost of replacement windows can vary widely based on window size, style and other features. Using normal glass, average replacement costs start at $888 (CAD 1,200) for a picture window. The price rises to $2,666 (CAD 3,611) for a bay window due to the extra glass and labor required.

According to the EPA, energy-efficient windows cost an average of 10% to 15% more than normal windows. This can add quite a bit to your replacement costs, especially if you have a lot of windows.

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How Much Money Could You Save by Installing Energy-Efficient Windows?

Despite the extra costs involved, energy-efficient windows will save you money. The exact amount you'll save depends on the type of windows you’re replacing, the climate where you live and how much energy you use. However, Energy Star estimates that your energy bills will shrink by 12% once energy-efficient windows are installed.

If you’re replacing single-pane windows, savings range from $101 to $583 (CAD 136 to CAD 789) per year. However, if you’re replacing clear glass double-pane windows with ENERGY STAR windows, the cost reductions are smaller. Average savings range from $27 to $197 (CAD 36 to CAD 266) per year.

Are Energy-Efficient Windows Worth the Cost?

If you need to replace your windows anyway, choosing energy-efficient options will generally be worth the cost. They’re not only environmentally friendly, but they also save you money on your energy bills, help your furniture last longer and make your home more comfortable.

If you already have double-pane windows, and they’re in good condition, you may get more energy savings in other areas, such as insulating the attic. Even though the monetary savings are lower, energy-efficient windows can still be a great investment. A 2020 study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that buyers are willing to pay more for energy-efficient homes. Better windows can make your home easier to sell at a higher price.

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.

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