4 Ways your Windows can Help Lower Energy Bills
Making Windows Energy-Efficient
Approximately one-third of a home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors, according to the Natural Defense Resources Council. Escaping heat and intrusive cold air in the winter puts stress on HVAC systems, forcing them to run unnecessarily and consume expensive energy.
Eliminating energy loss at windows will help better maintain room temperatures and lower energy bills. While caulking can go a long way, making your windows more energy-efficient can make the biggest impact.
Jason Arigoni, director of Pro Merchandising at Home Depot, says in most cases improvements that reduce energy can be made while adding to the appearance of the apartment.
“There are easy upgrades that can improve the efficiency of windows for multifamily buildings that are relatively inexpensive and add value for residents,” he said.
Here are four ways apartments can reduce energy loss at windows and lower utility bills:
Just as with cars, windows can be tinted and are a good option if window replacement is not feasible. Many do-it-yourself window films are available that, depending on the grade, can reduce heat or cold, glare and penetration of ultra-violet rays.
“Window tinting reduces heat from getting inside the building during the warmer months,” Arigoni said. “This allows the property to keep its windows without replacing. There are different colors and designs that allow you to spruce up the window through tinting or the film process.” Manufacturers claim that tinting blocks up to 70 percent of the sun’s heat and 93 percent of UV rays. Also, 58 percent of incoming heat from the sun is reduced.
Film, which can be removed after application, can be applied by a professional window tint specialist or maintenance personnel.
Clear window insulation reduces energy loss and boosts the R-value – the measure of thermal resistance – by 90 percent for a single-pane windows. Kits consist of a transparent film, usually affixed by double-sided tape, cover the window to trap air in between. Once the film is in place, heat is applied (a blow dryer works fine) to shrink the film so that it is wrinkle-free and easy to see through.
Window insulation is a temporary indoor solution and not a particularly attractive window treatment, but it’s a quick, inexpensive way to help keep air out and better maintain room temperature. Kits run about $15 and usually will insulate up to three windows.
Cellular shades are on the upswing, Arigoni said, and an aesthetically pleasing and effective way to reduce energy bills. Shades, which block 90 percent of sunlight, are made of solid material consisting of a network of honeycombs that trap heat and cold so it doesn’t penetrate the room. Some manufacturers claim the shades will save 17 percent on energy bills.
Shades can be custom-fitted, last for years and come in designer colors to blend with interior finishes.
“When people think of cellular shades, they think of back in the day when shades were flimsy and you left them in the sun for a while and they started to wear out,” Arigoni said. “These are long-lasting and they come in a variety of colors. We’re seeing a huge uptick in the performance and sales on them. You can really make not only an energy savings statement by going to this, but you also change the look and feel of an apartment or room by coordinating the colors or just a fresh look.”
Arigoni said shades add more privacy because, unlike blinds, the material is solid and dense. Prices for shades vary but typically run more than $100 per window.
Replacing with ENERGY STAR® windows
Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR® certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12 percent nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Arigoni said installing energy-efficient windows is trendy, especially in multifamily housing. Commercial grade windows are available with sound proofing, which Arigoni says are perfect for high-density apartments.
Windows, trimmed in vinyl, require low maintenance and never needs to be painted. “You can do a decorative exterior frame and enhance the curb appeal,” Arigoni said. “It definitely helps with energy efficiency as well.”