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High-Performance Windows Curb Rising Energy Costs

By HHI Staff

While home energy costs are on the rise, homeowners can save significant amounts of energy and money with high-performance windows.


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The average cost of energy used to heat and cool homes rose more than 33 percent in the last decade, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Fortunately, homeowners can find some relief by upgrading their windows. ENERGY STAR−rated windows are a good starting point. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR−qualified windows, doors and skylights reduce energy bills—and carbon footprints—by about 7 to 15 percent compared to nonqualified products.

Estimated savings vary depending on regional heating and cooling costs, but ENERGY STAR models currently save U.S. homeowners an average of $320 annually when replacing single-pane windows or $160 when replacing double-pane windows.

Maximize Your Savings

When considering new windows, remember high-performance windows offer even greater energy savings potential—up to 40 percent more than minimum ENERGY STAR windows. High-performance models use a combination of more energy-efficient components to provide better insulation against temperature extremes.

To maximize savings, look for high-performance models featuring nonmetal spacers that provide the best insulation and more impact on energy bills. Nonconductive spacer systems minimize the transfer of cold and heat energy from a home’s exterior to its interior. Windows with nonmetal spacers provide a warmer edge-of-glass temperature for increased interior comfort compared to models using conductive metal spacers.

In addition to nonmetal spacers, look for the following window features to maximize energy savings:

  • Low-emissivity (low-e) glass to block heat-generating UV light and reduce cooling needs;
  • Energy-efficient frame materials with insulated cores for a superior thermal barrier;
  • Argon or krypton gas filling to reduce cold and heat transfer.

High-performance windows are available in both double-pane and triple-pane models. In some cases, a double may provide better efficiency than a triple. However, as a general rule of thumb, triple-pane windows offer the greatest performance. In either case, look for windows with low U-values (or high R-values), which indicate better energy efficiency. In addition, homeowners should watch for characteristics such as a window’s solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and visible light transmittance (VT).

Additional Savings

The savings don’t necessarily stop with the installation of energy-efficient windows. Homeowners can save money on their taxes by installing qualified windows. Check with your window provider or the IRS to learn more about tax incentives.


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HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

High-Performance Windows Curb Rising Energy Costs:  Created on July 4th, 2011.  Last Modified on January 24th, 2012


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