Just about everybody knows how good windows will make your home more comfortable, especially in winter, yet time and again, homeowners sacrifice installing high performance windows in favor of expensive interior furnishings. Of course, personal choice and economics are good reasons for these decisions, and that decision should always be up to the sole discretion of the person cutting the check. In light of this, I simply want to make one suggestion when dealing with such decisions involving the use of your pocketbook: don’t just calculate costs for the construction or renovation of your home, calculate over time.
Case in point: once you have installed that industrial (not to mention energy gobbling) Viking stove, its value becomes static. The money has been spent and the return is aesthetic and personal, both worthy considerations. You stove as an important component to your house; one of many. You use the stove for limited time each day, but you experience the relative comfort of air temperature full time. However, when you afford this by taking your contractor’s suggestion and downgrading to a basic, contractors series double pane window, you accept higher heating and cooling costs. Now, consider the savings that could be achieved by purchasing that high performance window and calculate the difference. Multiplying that yearly average cost for a cheaper window by twenty years (about the typical amount of time a fixed feature remains in a home), you may find that the savings incurred equals a significant portion of the original window cost or even the full price of the stove.
Now, I’m not an advocate of waste; I hate it. But there are stores out their such as the Re-Store ( http://www.senhhabitat.org/restore/) in Dover that will prevent valuable items from going into the landfill. So, perhaps, just perhaps, consider buying those expensive, high performance windows and count the savings. When a little cash has freed up, go ahead and install that nice stove. But if you buy a low performance window, you’ll never be making any gains back on your investments, you’ll never be making long term gains in your budget. Resist the contractor suggestions; they rely on being cheapskates. Oh yes, I can hear them like it was yesterday – “…ah, all you need is double pane. Code windows are enough. Anything more is a waste.” Consider this: Code demands a home to have a HERS ratings of 100. Energy Star demands a HERS rating of 80. (Yes, lower is better here.) A sustainable home should be 50 or lower. So code is one thing to ignore here with respect to efficiency. It’s not good enough.
At Greenovations (www.seacoastgreenovations.com ), we work with an importer (www.moderndesignstudios.net ) to provide Windows by Veka. Veka are among the best windows in the world. The entire line of Tilt and Turn Windows has a whole window U-Value of 0.176. An Energy Star window – U.30. There’s no comparison. These windows utilize, among other technologies a casement locking system that makes them airtight. Veka windows will also last and perform for a lifetime. I have a Veka on display in the store. It stands about 2 ½ feet high by two feet wide and it’s too heavy to pick up comfortably. Soon we will be offering a window from Pella with a U-Value of 0.22.
The point here: ask questions if your contractor suggests economizing on the window. And do a long term calculation of the real cost for each window line you choose from.