Energy Prices are Up - And The Con Artists Are Ready

I just received another offer for new energy efficient windows in the mail. While there s nothing wrong with such windows, the problem is with the claim that such windows can help offset the increases in energy costs.

In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth!

Don't get me wrong, I am a great fan of new window technology and I am an "insulation nut." But selling replacement windows on the basis of saving money does not add up!

Here's why:

This advertisement talks about a 2000 sq. ft. house with 8 windows and one sliding patio door. The cost of these windows is $59.00 per month for 12 years. That translates into $708/year for a total of $8,496. The company in question will also rebate up to $100.00 for one month s worth of gas in the first year.

The annual heating costs for a house of this size in the Seattle area before the natural gas or oil price increases should have been about $500. If we assume the worst case, then the heating costs this year will be $1,000 (a very high estimate). Based upon all the data that I have seen, new insulated glass windows might reduce energy consumption by as much as 20% (a generous estimate).

And so with these very generous assumptions, one might expect to save as much as $200/year with new windows (I doubt it, but lets err on the high side). So, based upon my calculations, it will cost $608 during the first year and $708 during every following year for 12 years to possibly save $200.00 per year in heating bills.

Are there better and much less expensive ways to save energy costs? Yes!

  • Wear sweaters and socks, and turn down the thermostat a few degrees.

  • Install and use a set back thermostat, and reduce the temperature in the home at night and when no one is at home.
  • Make sure that your furnace is serviced and clean - this is also a good way to prevent carbon monoxide problems, dust and allergies!

  • If you have an electric furnace and are on a gas line, converting to natural gas will likely be cost effective (but that will depend on the gas prices).
  • This is not an argument against new windows. I think that the new window and glazing technology is great! I like the look of many types of the new windows. Unlike the old wood double hung windows, new windows actually open and close. Good windows are also an important factor in making a house feel less drafty and allow for better and more even heat distribution. Properly configured windows can also help you keep the house cooler in the summer.

    From a community viewpoint, requiring insulated windows in new construction and/or subsidizing window replacement can also make sense. Insulation and conservation reduces the need to develop new energy sources now and in the future. The energy saved by conservation reduces energy needs for the life of the system!

    But selling windows at retail prices on the basis of the net energy savings to the consumer does not add up! And the victims of these scams are often the least able to afford them.

    I also suspect that any net house value increase will be less than the total cost of the new windows. - George

    P.S. And what about those energy efficient air conditioning systems? Why they even sell them here in Seattle! And as you can imagine, it most cases that is a waste of $$$ and energy. Yes, houses get too warm on some summer days here but as in most temperate climates passive cooling systems work much better than an AC unit here. And passive cooling measures can assist in keeping your house cool and your electric bill lower in all climates!.

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