How to reduce heat lost through home windows and save on heating costs

How to reduce heat lost through home windows and save on heating costs

All homes lose heat in one way or another during the winter season. The warm air your furnace kicks out finds ways to escape and the cold air outside finds ways to creep inside the house. Though some houses lose less heat than others, heat loss is a problem that every homeowner should know how to limit.

For many houses, heat loss starts with windows. It is estimated that anywhere between 12% and 30% of an annual heating bill goes toward making up for the heat that is lost through a home’s windows, according to the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.

Heat loss through windows doesn’t just affect homeowners, either. It’s a potentially expensive problem for renters who are responsible for their apartment or other rental property heating bills. However, there are steps every person – owner or renter – can take to address and reduce heat lost through windows.

Calculate how much heat you are losing because of windows

There is a way for you to find out about how much heat your house is losing because of windows. Following these steps can open your eyes to how much of a problem you have – or don’t have, if you’re lucky.

Step 1

For each window, measure the width and length of the window in inches. Multiply the length by the width and then divide by 144 to calculate the square footage.

Step 2

Find your heating bill. You should be able to locate the cost per unit of heating product. For example, there will be a number for kilowatt per hour (kWh) if your home heating system is powered by electricity, per gallon for oil or per 100 cubic feet for natural gas. Make sure to write down the number.

Step 3

Next, you need to find the heating degree days, also known as DD, for the area in which you live. According to SFGate, this is the number of degrees that the average daily temperature dips below 65 degrees. You can get this figure from your heating provider, a weather office or a nearby airport.

Step 4

From there, you can determine the cost of heat lost per square foot for a window by multiplying the fuel cost per unit on your bill by the number of degree days. Now, multiply that result by 38.82 for electricity, 1.57 for oil and 2.03 for natural gas. Then, divide by 10,000.

What you are left with is the cost of heat lost per square foot for a double-paned window. If you are doing the math for a triple-paned window, multiply the result by 0.65 and by 2.27 for a single-glass window.

How to use heat lost data

Now, you may be wondering what you are supposed to do with this figure. One way to use it is to determine whether the amount of heat your home is losing through its windows is a problem that requires addressing.

If the answer is yes, then there are many window treatments and energy efficiency strategies that you can employ to help reduce how much heat is lost due to windows.

Maintenance and updates can improve window efficiency

There are a few maintenance steps and other updates that can help improve a window’s energy efficiency and lower the amount of heat that escapes.

The first step you should take is to check for any air leaks. If you find any, then you can reapply caulk or weatherstripping to close off those leaks.

Alternatively, you can add storm windows, panels, or other types of window treatment options.

Window treatments to save on heating costs

One window treatment solution that will save on heating costs by improving energy efficiency is to add insulated cellular shades. These are made of pleated materials and are foldable by design. Insulated cellular shades often have the highest R-values of any type of window covering.

Cellular shades result in significant energy savings, too. When you are heating the home, the shades can reduce the amount of heat lost through the window by 40% or more. This translates to about 20% in heating energy savings.

You could also add window quilts, which are rollable and fit snug against the trim when unrolled. They often cost less than cellular shades.

Replace existing windows to a more efficient model

If the windows are simply too outdated to be energy efficient, then it may be time to update the windows now rather than wait.

Energy efficient windows come in several different styles. However, to be sure that they are indeed efficient, look for the ENERGY STAR label and then look over the energy performance label to see how the new window ranks for efficiency.

By updating your home’s windows, you not only will be addressing heat loss in the winter, but also heat gain in the summer. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat loss and gain are responsible for 25% to 30% of residential heating and cooling use.

Bring in a professional for a home energy audit

If you’d like a professional opinion, then it may be time to have a home energy audit conducted. These audits can help paint a clearer picture of how your home uses energy, where it loses energy and what steps you can take to improve its energy use efficiency.

Now, it’s possible to take a DIY approach to a home energy audit, but a professional will be able to provide a more detailed explanation thanks to access to more tools and knowledge of the trade.

Trust Comfortec Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for your home energy needs

Whenever you need heating and cooling service, trust the professionals at Comfortec Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

We stand by our slogan of providing you with “quality service for your home comfort needs” and can bring many solutions to the table no matter what you need – whether it’s a furnace tuneup or new equipment installation.

Call us today or request a quote to get started.

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