Improve energy efficiency by replacing window frame

Improve energy efficiency by replacing window frame

I recently moved to a home where the front windows face southwest. There are no shade trees in the front yard, so I'm expecting the front rooms to get hot this summer.

I plan on replacing the window glass but I'm getting conflicting advice. Should I get low-E glass and rely on it to block infrared heat waves, or get clear glass and have an infrared-reflective film applied? Which will give me the best results? — Angie's List member Roger Linville

If you want to improve your window's overall efficiency, don't replace the glass, replace the windows, says Chris Pollard, owner of highly rated Clarity Windows in Dallas.

"You can get the greatest, most energy-efficient piece of glass," he says. "But if you're putting it in a piece of junk frame, you're still going to get a lot of heat gain." He says replacing the entire window system with a new low emissivity (also known as low-E) window will produce the best improvement in energy efficiency.

Most new energy-efficient windows range from $450 to $1,200, according to Pollard. New windows may also qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of a certified product's cost up to $1,500, not including labor or installation. Visit energystar.gov for more information.

Solar film may be a less costly option overall, says Toby Watson, owner of highly rated Sun Master Glass Tinting in Carrollton, Texas. He says most solar reflective films start at about $4 to $4.50 per square foot and can block 60 to 75 percent of incoming solar heat. However, installing the reflective film won't address an inefficient window frame.

Do you have a service-related question? E-mail us at mailbag@angieslist.com.


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