Home Efficiency Issues: Why It’s Not Your Windows

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Energy loss is common throughout many homes in Central Virginia, which can lead to several comfort and efficiency issues, like drafty rooms and high heating & cooling costs. When this happens, it’s also common for homeowners to assume the worst and think a window replacement is the only solution—however, that’s not the case.

At Responsible House, we use a building science approach in homes throughout Waynesboro, Charlottesville, and surrounding areas. This, combined with our decades of experience, not only helps us find the root cause of comfort and efficiency problems but also allows us to find a reliable solution. In many cases, proper insulation and air sealing will be much more effective and longer lasting than a window replacement—here’s why.

Windows Won’t Improve R-Value

Glass, no matter how new or how well engineered it is, is not going to resist heat transfer very well. Ordinary windows usually have an R-value of about R2 or R4 (windows are measured with a “U Value,” which is the inverse of R value), which measures a material’s heat resistance. Even the best energy-efficient windows only have an R-value of about R7. This R7 type of window would be a triple-glaze high performer and means that replacing your windows won’t necessarily lead to much more performance compared to the ones you already have.  We tell people that there are two really good reasons to replace a window: safety and aesthetics. If you can’t open it, that’s a safety issue. If it’s got terrible curb appeal that’s a good reason too. But energy efficiency is never a good reason to replace a window. 

For comparison, the typical attic with poor insulation is a R20 and our air sealing and insulation retrofits have taken our clients between R38 and R50. By creating a tight barrier between your home and the outside elements, insulation and air sealing offer superior protection for your home and offer several benefits, such as moisture control, improved indoor air quality, and more. If you feel a breeze near your windows, it may very well be that your windows and doors need air sealing around gaps, sills, and framing, not a full replacement.  We have found that it is often the installation of a window, not the window itself, that is leaking air.  Caulking around the interior trim of a window can help cut off some of that air leakage around the “installation” of the window. Another reason that large windows feel “drafty” on a cold day is the cold glass pulling the heat from your body (2nd law of the universe: your body heat is going to give itself to that cold window.)

Window Replacement Doesn’t Offer Much Return on Your Investment

The cost of replacement windows is so high that it is difficult to see a return on your investment when it comes to efficiency, however, insulation and air sealing will provide a return. Let’s take an example: a standard window is 12 square feet, which on the low end would cost you $300 without installation, and high-efficiency windows can easily exceed $500. To air seal and properly insulate a square foot of your attic, crawl space or walls would cost around $3 per square foot – yielding a much higher efficiency per square foot. In short, replacement windows will not pay you back with energy savings, but the air sealing and insulation will.

Get Ultimate Protection with Spray Foam Insulation 

At Responsible House, we install high-quality spray foam insulation because it offers protection from both air movement and all types of heat transfer. As an all-in-one insulation and air sealing product, spray foam can protect your home from indoor drafts, moisture problems, and even improve your home’s structure. While spray foam insulation may be one of the more expensive types of insulation on the market today, it’s also the most high performing and lasts for decades.

Don’t Replace Your Windows. Get Results with the Building Scientists at Responsible House

Since 1995, we’ve been helping families improve their homes with our comprehensive services. Operating throughout Central Virginia, we take the guesswork out of home upgrades by utilizing our extensive knowledge and experience to solve comfort and efficiency issues and our team understands that each home is unique with its own set of needs. This is why we always start a project with a free consultation to better understand what you’re going through and only recommend services that your home needs.

Get started with Responsible House today. Call 540-942-2061 or contact us online.

Happy Clients

Responsible House worked tirelessly to bring back to life my family’s 100-year old farmhouse with a major energy retrofit and extensive structural restoration. I cannot say enough good things about this local, family owned business. They meticulously pursued perfection at… Read more “We are immensely grateful”

Joyce C.

William came to study the problem. He was incredibly thorough weighing in all possible causes and solutions to my Attic blues. He then put together a plan and executed it to perfection. If you do not go to Responsible house… Read more “Attic Blues”

Charles C.

They caulked all the places on the interior of my log home where I was losing heat. I am saving 20% on my heating bill now. The team also fixed minor issues with the house which they found during the… Read more “Very Happy With The Work”

Donna S.

The experience I had from Responsible House installing my new insulation it was quick and effortless. Their team came in and within two days I was able to return to a much warmer house. My air-conditioning would run almost constantly… Read more “Quick And Effortless”

Jason W.

The upstairs level of our home used to get extremely hot in the summertime, using a lot of wasted electricity to try to cool things down. Responsible house was able to insulate our home which ended up zeroing out our… Read more “Extremely Hot Upstairs Insulation Google Review”

Rachel B.

The most amazing contractors I have ever worked with – William saved us! You will not find anyone as professional and competent – not only in the valley but honestly anywhere. I have had so many bad experiences – Responsible… Read more “Dahlia N./Houzz.com Review”

Our project consisted of a kitchen/bath/bedroom remodel – a roughly 5 month project. William and his team were the consummate professionals throughout–skilled, knowledgeable, straightforward and direct. They provided advice and recommendations when needed and dealt promptly with any problems that… Read more “Kay B./Houzz.com Review”

Not only do they provide high quality services, they also are extremely easy to work with and they have a strong sense of design. -Michael Brown/Houzz.com… Read more “Michael Brown/Houzz.com Review”

“We highly recommend him and his team, and especially for a custom plan containing elements which are not standard construction.” –Custom Home… Read more “Custom Home Client/Houzz.com”

They have a very thorough attention to detail, and always rendered results that were exactly what the clients and I were after. –Annie M./Houzz.com… Read more “Annie M./Houzz.com Review”