Upgrade to energy-efficient windows

Why? You can prevent air leakage by improving the efficiency of your windows. While it may not be cost effective to replace your windows based on energy savings alone, there are lots of other benefits from new windows, including comfort, security, noise reduction, and aesthetics. 

Good to know:

  • Fix first: Fixing your existing windows is an attractive alternative to replacing your windows. In fact, for most homes, it is more cost-effective to improve the efficiency of existing windows than to replace them with new models.
  • The case for replacement: If you've already improved the insulation and sealed air leaks throughout your home and you are still looking to prevent the loss of heated or cooled air, windows may be an appropriate area of focus. Remember: efficient windows are a significant investment.
  • Already remodeling or upgrading? If you're already remodeling or replacing your windows for another reason, such as for comfort, appearance or convenience, then you should factor in the efficiency of your windows when making your purchase decision. It usually pays off to invest in a highly efficient window if you are already buying a new window anyway.
  • Hire a professional: To get the most out of your windows, ensure they are properly installed.
What to look for in a window:
  • ENERGY STAR® qualified windows are the most efficient option.
  • The NFRC® label. Comparing the label across window models, look for the following: A u-value of .35 or less, which indicates the window insulates well enough for the cold Chicago Winters. The proper "solar heat gain coefficient" for our region, meaning the amount of heat transmitted through the windows by the sun. A low air leakage value. In a moist climate, also look for a high condensation resistance value, which indicates that the window can effectively prevent moisture build up.
  • The right materials. For the frame and sash materials, wood, vinyl and "pultruded" fiberglass are more insulating than aluminum.
Added benefits:
  • Prevent moisture problems: If you have inefficient windows, chances are you will see fog or frozen water on your window pane or pooled water on the window sill. Over time, chronic moisture can create mold problems and other property damage. More efficient windows keep the glass and frame warmer and have fewer moisture-related problems.
  • Protect fabrics, artwork and other household goods: Have you ever moved a wall-hanging and noticed that the paint on your wall has faded compared to the paint behind the wall-hanging? Most fading is due to sunlight hitting surfaces inside your home. Fading from sunlight can damage the fabric on couches and other furniture, as well as rugs and artwork. Most efficient windows have a low-e coating to keep out the sun's heat, which also reduces fading by up to 75%.

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