Why it’s not your windows

There seems to be an assumption out there that your high heating bills and drafty house are caused by your windows and the solution is to replace them. The trouble with this is two-fold.

First, even the best windows will not perform significantly better than the ones you have. The most expensive, most insanely technical and energy efficient window out there is the equivalent of an R7*. Ordinary windows are the equivalent of an R2 to R4. For comparison, the typical attic with poor insulation is a R20. Our retrofits with air sealing and proper insulation have taken our clients between R38 and R50. This is a significant improvement. Glass, no matter how new or how well engineered is not going to resist heat transfer very well. It may very well be that your windows and doors need some repair, or air sealing around gaps, sills and framing. If you feel a “breeze” near your windows, some silicone sealing or repair may help. This is something we check during our 11-step energy audit.

Secondly, the cost of replacement windows is so high that it is difficult to see a return on your investment. There are holes in your house that can be sealed, and that investment easily sees a return. Let’s take an example. A regular window is 12 square feet. On the low end this would cost you $300. That is $25 a square foot – and that’s on the very inexpensive, vinyl replacements. You can easily spend up to $75 per square foot for a good-quality replacement window. To air seal and properly insulate a square foot of your attic or crawl space or walls would cost around $3 per square foot – yielding a much higher efficiency per square foot as well. In short, replacement windows will not pay you back with energy savings, but the air sealing will.

There are reasons to replace windows. We have replaced almost all the windows in our home in the last 15 years. Some were no longer safe, some were inoperable and could not be opened. We also remodeled our kitchen and changed our counter height, so our old window wouldn’t fit. We’ve replaced some for pure aesthetics. We love our newer windows, but they are not saving on our energy costs.

*Let’s talk about R-value (called U-value for windows – an inverse of R – but that might be a bit too far down the rabbit hole). R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow a material has based on its makeup and thickness. The temperature of your air (heat) is trying to leave your house and it will do it through your walls, doors and windows. The higher the R-value the more resistance the heat is meeting.

#benefitsofinsulating #benefitsofairsealing #energyefficient #crawlspace #energyaudit #insulation #attic #airsealing

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 –… 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 Review

“We highly recommend him and his team, and especially for a custom plan containing elements which are not standard construction.” –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 Review

A Net Zero Home
When conditioned air is trying to escape to the coldness outside, it has a hard time. This house only allows it’s volume of air to switch with the outside once every 24 hours. That’s 12 times more efficient than the average home. This is the 2nd tightest house we have built.
Outdoor Kitchen Window
Energy efficiency is not about your windows but this is one of the times we do recommend replacing your windows - when you are reimagining your space. This kitchen renovation on a 200 year old home also highlights Responsible House’s breadth of experience and that we can handle any projects tangential to your insulation needs.
Kitchen Remodel
We had to give you a peek of that window and kitchen from the inside. Truly reimagined!
Nellysford Cottage
This adorable cottage may not look fierce, but it is holding onto it’s air envelope mighty tightly. It takes 12 hours for all of the conditioned air inside of this house to sneak through the tiny holes present and be replaced by unconditioned air from the outside. In contrast, the average home does this every 2 hours. Super leaky homes (and plenty exist) perform far worse than that – every hour or even less!
Bungalow Remodel
These homeowners took it slowly over 5 years - insulated the ceiling of their basement, replaced their roof to prep for solar, had some solar installed, conditioned their attic (and replaced old HVAC equipment), and finally completed their solar array. Their home is cozy and energy efficient now.
Annie Interior
On a cold day, this home exchanges the entire envelope of air inside with the outside air about once every 40 hours. This is stunningly low! This translates to not having to keep your heater running on a cold day because you aren’t constantly heating the outside air that is coming in. The average house exchanges it’s entire volume of air (that you paid so dearly to warm up or cool off) with the outside air every 2 HOURS.