Upgrade your view: A builder's guide to energy efficient window replacement / by Mark Schmidt


Windows are no longer a one-stop shop. There are hundreds of styles, functionalities and efficiencies to choose from nowadays. With such a mass selection available for home efficiency upgrades, window shopping isn’t always so crystal clear. Read our tips below to bring the outside in while saving big on your energy bill.

Window Pains. Yes, we meant window pains–not window panes! If you don’t have any visible damage to your current windows, you’re probably looking to replace them to save money on your energy bills, but as a homeowner, window terminology can be a real pain if you don’t know what you’re looking for at the store. In layman’s terms, all you really need to know are your U’s, R’s and E’s. Here’s what we mean:

U-values simply measure heat flow. The lower the number, the less heated or cooled air will be lost by the windows. 

Conversely, the higher the R-values, the more efficient the insulating properties will be in your home. For example, your most efficient, triple-pane windows range from about a 5-7 R-value while your least efficient, single-pane windows have an R-value of 1.

Finally, you may want to consider windows with a Low-E coating. This coating provides a slight tint to the glass which prevents quite a bit of the sun’s harmful UV rays from damaging valuables in your home, while also improving thermal performance. 

Look for the star. Mind your U’s and R’s; the easiest way to find your own energy efficient windows is to look for the star (and by that we mean look for the Energy Star label). The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has made it easy on us to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. By simply choosing a product with the blue Energy Star emblem, you should feel confident that you’ve selected windows–and any other building products with the star–that meet or exceed strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA to save homeowners both time and money. According to Energy Star’s standards, a typical home will save between $126 and $465 annually when replacing single-pane windows with Energy Star windows and between $27 and $111 when replacing double-pane. On average, you’ll be saving about 12% on your energy bill. Tax credits may be available for your purchase too! So weigh out the overall product and installation cost versus your annual energy savings over time. 

Preserving history. If you’re renovating a historic house, you may be flip-flopping on whether or not to replace your old historic windows for modern, energy-efficient ones, but wavering on your decision because of aesthetics. If the older windows in your property are a big part of its charm, it may be best to keep them for their character and simply add storm windows to provide you with the energy performance of many modern windows. Just be sure your builder checks the condition of each window. Outside of efficiency, you’ll want him to be sure there are no rotting frames or cracked panes that may lead to pest infestations, water leaks, or humidity issues.  

Ask the pros. Window jargon might be best left up to the pros. The simplest way to choose energy efficient window replacements for your home renovation is to ask a pro. Choose a professional and experienced builder like Schmidt Custom Builders to walk you through your options. New windows don’t have to be a pain! 

Think you could use a little help with your window replacement decision? Give us a call at 910.620.1835 or fill out our custom renovation form. We’re here to help you make your decision.