Replacement Windows – Best Energy Saving ROI

By Todd Fratzel on Windows

Replacement Windows Are A Great Return On Investment

It’s not a mystery that replacement windows can help make your home more energy efficient resulting in significant energy savings each year. However, what some of you might find interesting is the fact that replacement windows are considered one of the best return on investment when it comes to energy retrofits.

According to a recent study windows with a higher R value (inverse of the U value) are a better ROI than increasing insulation throughout the home or installing a solar system. Obviously there are some caveats to this blanket statement but it points out a consideration that many people have forgotten with all the talk about better performing insulation and cheaper solar systems.

Installing Replacement Windows

If you’re interested in installing replacement windows in your home it’s important to learn about all the options and what will help you get the best ROI. By far the most important factor in increasing your ROI is purchasing replacement windows with a very low U factor (high R value).

Today that means stepping up to triple pane glass with Low-E coatings and Argon gas filling between panes. The slight difference in cost between double pane and triple pane (15% to 20% typically) is quickly offset by the energy savings. An average double pane window has a U factor of 0.34 (R = 3) while a triple pane window typically has a U factor of 0.25 to 0.20 (R = 5). As you can see the cost of 20% can be quickly offset with a U factor almost 3 times better.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to install wood, vinyl or fiberglass replacement windows. Each has their pros and cons but the overwhelming biggest choice today are vinyl replacement windows.

Lastly the best quality replacement windows won’t do much good if they are installed poorly. Replacement windows are notorious for drafts when installers rush the installation. Regardless of who installs them be sure that the windows are sealed properly and all gaps around the frames are insulated and sealed.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. Robin says:

    Hmm that is surprising. But the paying to see the report seems fishy. What size, style, and age house were they talking about? I have done extensive energy analysis on our house and come up with a attic insulation being the best ROI by far. I’ve done two energy models and a hand calc to determine our heating and cooling loads of our house before we installed the geothermal system.

    • Todd says:

      Robin – It’s actually free. I was able to download it after submitting my email and address. The analysis uses a single pane window (which many older homes have) and compares it to today’s triple pane windows. Frankly it’s not that surprising based on my experience. We’ve built several new homes the last couple of years with triple pane windows and the difference is staggering in heating bills. Especially when you consider that I’m comparing those houses to the same insulated homes that have double pane. Certainly an interesting idea worth thinking about.

  2. Jimp says:

    How right you are. I spent 24 years in the window replacement business in NY, now retired in South Carolina. The biggest heat loss in your house is the windows, doors and roof in that order. Everyones concerned with insulation in the walls, you don’t lose that much heat there. If there’s no insulation, what you at least have is an inner and outer wall with dead air in between. All insulation does is create dead air space. What the wall does not have is a hole in it where cold air is coming in. Windows do, it’s called drafts or air infiltration if you prefer. So you are correct. A good window can provide big energy savings.


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