Before you can make your home more energy efficient, you need to know where you currently stand. A so-called energy audit, in which an energy professional inspects your home to determine where efficiency can be improved, is a great way for homeowners to figure out which parts of their property need attention. “[An energy-efficiency audit] is a great way to kind of measure where there are inefficiencies.” Homeowners can contact their energy company or a contractor about conducting an energy audit, which may be free in some cases.

Plugging up the leaks that allow cold air to slip into your house—and drive up your heating bills—is an important first step in creating an energy-efficient home. Such leaks are often found around doors and windows, but they also can be in your basement or attic. Certain materials used to seal these leaks—such as caulk, spray foam, or weatherstripping—can qualify for federal tax credits.

Adding insulation can help keep your home comfortable all year round. “It turns out that about half of the homes in the United States are under insulated. If your home was built before about 1980, you should really look at it to see if you have got the proper level of insulation.” For those adding insulation, best recommendation is starting with an easily accessible part of the house, such as the attic. “In the attic spaces, a lot of times, the insulation over a period of years will reduce down to maybe 3 or 4 inches where you are supposed to have like 10 inches of insulation. A lot of the insulation companies promote going in and blowing an additional 10 inches of insulation in your attic. That really helps.” Certain insulation products can qualify for federal tax credits.

In forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts carry hot or cold air to different parts of home. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that roughly a fifth of this air escapes through leaks. To address this headache, consumers can use duct sealant to repair leaks in exposed ducts

Another way to cut energy costs is a programmable thermostat. These devices “save about 10 percent on your heating bills and your cooling bills in the summer, so they pay for themselves literally in a matter of months.

Replacing old, leaky windows with higher-efficiency models can also make your home greener. Energy-efficient windows typically have two panes of glass filled with a gas that works to slow down the heat that passes through. Qualified energy-efficient windows are eligible for a federal tax credit, but installation costs are not included.

When looking for energy efficiency, avoid hollow metal doors,“Any kind of hollow door is going to be terrible because the air is going to infiltrate right through. look for a door of insulated steel, fiberglass, or wood. If you’d prefer that a portion of the door be glass, look for energy-efficient components. “If you are going to go for glass, you want to make sure that you get the same sort of insulating features that you would look for in a window.

Storm windows can be a lower-cost alternative to a full-blown window replacement project. “If your interior windows are in good shape, then [installing storm windows is] a quick way to increase your energy efficiency without going through the expense and the mess of ripping out your current windows

Replacing an outdated HVAC system with a more energy-efficient one can lower your monthly energy bills. But before considering this project, it’s essential to make sure your home is as well-sealed and insulated as possible.

High-efficiency water heaters can drive down home energy costs. Water heating makes up, anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the annual energy usage in a home. High-efficiency water heaters conserve energy by keeping water hot for longer than traditional water heaters. “You start saving money on a monthly basis, and that technology will generally pay for itself in anywhere from three to five years. Certain water heaters can qualify for federal tax credits.


Signs that your old windows or doors need to be replaced

Poor performance

 

  • Air is leaking in and out of your windows or doors, causing hot and cold drafts.
  • There is unsightly fogging between the panes of glass.

Solution: New windows and doors with high-performance insulating glass technology helps eliminate drafts and will help keep the glass from conducting heat or cold — making your home more comfortable and energy efficient year-round. Pella’s sealed insulating glass has a 20-year warranty against fogging. High energy bills

  • Your old single-pane windows are not energy-efficient, making your furnace and air conditioner work harder.

Solution: Reduce heating and cooling costs by replacing your windows and doors with Low-E (Low-Emissivity) insulating, double- or triple-pane glass. For maximum energy savings, purchase ENERGY STAR® qualified products.

Fade damage

  • You want to prevent your furniture, carpet and window treatments from being damaged by the sun’s fading rays.

Solution: Replacement windows and doors with Low-E (low-emissivity) glass coatings reflect the sun’s UV rays away from your home, to help protect your furniture, drapes and carpets from fade damage.

No emergency escape route

  • Windows and doors that don’t open easily or are painted or nailed shut are a serious safety issue — they may prevent you from escaping your home during a fire when seconds count.

Solution: New windows and doors will glide open and shut easily and lock securely — giving you a dependable escape route and more peace of mind.

They’re just-plain-ugly

 

  • Window or door frames are chipped or deteriorated
  • Glass is cracked or broken
  • Hardware is missing or damaged
  • There are water stains on or around the window

Solution: New windows and doors will dramatically improve the beauty of your home — inside and out.

They’re a hassle to clean and operate

 

  • Windows and doors are difficult to open or close
  • Cleaning is a major inconvenience
  • Replacement parts are hard to find or even non-existent
  • Window and door exteriors require frequent scraping and painting

Solution: Today’s replacement wood, fiberglass and vinyl windows open and close almost effortlessly. And, they’re designed to make cleaning the exterior glass from inside your house easy and they require little maintenance. Plus you won’t have to worry about hunting down replacement parts.

Let us help make your decision easier

Selecting Activate a Loan will put you closer to replacing your windows and doors which is a big decision. And one you don’t make every day. Here are some things to consider.

Your Home’s Style
If you like the size and style of your home’s original windows, replacing them with the same size and style of window is typically your most affordable option — and you’ll stay true to your home’s architectural character.
Do they have true-divided-light windowpanes (smaller, individual panes of glass)?
If so, you’ll probably want your new windows and doors to have the look of true-divided-light, but with today’s energy efficiency. Windows and doors are available with many different grille types and patterns so you can match the look of your old windows.What color is the hardware?
Choose window and door handles, locks and hinges that match other decorative metals in your home to create a quality, coordinated look.

Is your home’s woodwork or trim painted or stained? 
Windows and doors with wood interiors can be stained to coordinate with your existing woodwork. Painted wood, fiberglass or vinyl windows look great with painted woodwork.

 

Your Lifestyle
Modern windows and doors are available with features that make your life easier.
Do you have a busy schedule? 
Thanks to today’s technology, wood, fiberglass and vinyl windows and doors require little maintenance ? meaning no more scraping and painting the exteriors of your windows and doors.Do you have children or pets?
Blinds and shades tucked between the glass are a great choice. They’re protected from dust, damage and little hands, and there are no cords for kids and pets to get tangled up in.

Do you redecorate frequently? 
New windows technology called between-the-glass window fashions snap in and out, so they’re easy to change whenever you want.

Do you have a stunning view? 
High-transparency screen windosw and patio door screens won’t get in the way of your scenery and won’t detract from your home’s curb appeal.

 

Your Climate
The weather in your area will help determine what kind of glass to choose for your replacement windows and doors.
For cold-weather climates, windows and doors with double- or triple-pane glass with argon provide excellent insulation and draft protection and will help lower your heating bills.

If you have hot, sunny weather — or windows on the side of your house in direct sun — Advanced Low-E or SunDefense™ Low-E insulating glass is a great choice for you. The two layers of thermal protection reflects the sun’s heating and fading rays away from your house, keeping it cooler in the summer and helping to protect your furnishings.

If you live in a coastal area prone to hurricanes,
HurricaneShield® impact-resistant glass will meet stringent building codes and provide added protection from wind, water and flying debris.
Locations with temperate weather need the basic energy efficiency of Low-E insulating glass (double-pane glass with airspace in between).

 

Your Budget
There are many things that affect the price of a replacement window or door, and generally, the material you choose is a factor. As a guideline, let’s compare a basic window in three different materials.
The wood window may cost more — but offers the highest quality appearance and the most design flexibility.

A fiberglass window is typically a mid-range choice.

A vinyl window may offer the least expensive option.
However, when you add high-performance glass and other special features, the cost differences can vary. In other words, a premium vinyl window with lots of extra features can cost as much as a wood window. Your choice should work for your needs.

 

Why pay more to heat and cool your home?

One of the most common reasons to replace existing windows is to increase the energy efficiency of your home — which reduces your heating and cooling bills and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. New windows are up to 74 percent more energy efficient1. You’ll notice the savings immediately, because poorly performing windows and doors cause heating and cooling loss in your home. Don’t throw money out the window!
Be sure to look for these energy-efficient features:
1. Multiple panes of glass
Double-pane glass insulates almost twice as well as single-pane. Triple-pane glass maximizes your energy efficiency.

2. Low-E (Low-emissivity) glass coatings
These are layers of thermal protection inside insulating glass that help:

  • Reflect summer heat and retain interior cooling.
  • Reflect winter cold and retain interior heat.
  • Block harmful UV rays to help prevent fade damage.

3. Argon (inert gas) between the glass panes
Argon2 is a natural, colorless, nontoxic gas that’s denser than air. It adds layers of insulation to further reduce the transfer of heat or cold, making your home even more energy-efficient and comfortable.

4. ENERGY STAR qualified
New products offer the energy-efficient options that will meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states.3 American households are saving significantly on their energy bills by using ENERGY STAR certified products. Learn more about ENERGY STAR.

5. InsulShield® energy performance glass
InsulShield® energy performers include:

  • Advanced Low-E Insulating Glass with Argon
  • Designer Series® Advanced Low-E Insulating Triple-Pane Glass with Argon
  • SunDefense™ Low-E Insulating Glass with Argon

6. Look for energy-efficient window frames

  • Wood frames are excellent insulators — they conduct less heat or cold into your home. In fact, they insulate 1,800 times better than aluminum.
  • Fiberglass composite material offers the insulating properties of wood. It won’t expand and warp in the summer, or shrink and turn brittle during winter.
  • Vinyl multi-chambered frames reduce heat loss for added energy efficiency ? and they’re exceptionally easy to care for.
  • luminum is inexpensive and durable but has a poorer insulation rating, meaning the frames conduct more heat or cold into your home.

7. Tight seals
Windows and doors that don’t seal properly are drafty — affecting your comfort level and increasing your energy costs. Rest assured, Pella tests its products in state-of-the-art facilities to make sure they meet or exceed industry performance standards.

8. Quality installation.
If installed incorrectly, your windows and doors may not operate properly. Proper installation will help prevent air infiltration and even costly water damage to your home.

9. The NFRC label

It’s the only reliable way to determine the entire window’s energy performance and to compare products realistically.
The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) is a nonprofit organization for the window industry that developed an energy rating system based on whole-unit product performance — not just the glass.

The U-Factor represents the rate of heat flowing out of a window or door in an hour. The lower the number, the better the glass insulates.

The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) rating measures the amount of solar radiation that enters as heat. The lower the number, the less heat the glass allows in