The High Cost Of Home Heating and How Vinyl Replacement Windows Can Help
“We have all been hearing the government’s warnings for months predicting major increases in the cost of heating homes this winter due to rising fuel costs, with the biggest increases expected for those who heat with natural gas. A prudent step you can take to help reduce vast heating bills is to replace old, drafty windows with vinyl replacement windows. If you haven’t thought about replacement windows in years, or if you have been putting off replacing your windows, there has never been a better time to make this worthwhile investment in your home that will reward you with cost-savings and comfort for years to come.” – Bob Feury, Jr., Chief Operating Officer, Allied Building Products Corp.
Here are the cold facts: Last winter, market prices for natural gas were 30 percent higher than the prior winter. This winter, the increase in market prices is expected to be approximately more than 70 percent higher. In fact, the U.S. Energy Department predicts that natural gas users can expect to pay an average of $350 more during the upcoming winter compared to last year – an increase of 48 percent. Some forecasts are even suggesting that the average person will spend twice this year what they spent last year.
Why are prices increasing?
Natural Gas is a commodity traded on the open market. As with any commodity, the supply and demand of the product influence the price. Some reasons this may be the winter for budget-busting heating bills include:
- Escalating world oil prices have put pressure on the pricing of all fuels.
- High and volatile prices continue to exist as concerns continue over winter supply availability. Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing forecast of an active hurricane season have added to this.
- The overall demand for natural gas, as a clean burning, environmentally sound fuel has increased over the last decade, which has put a strain on the overall domestic resource base.
What can be done?
There are some relatively simple things that can be done in the home to conserve energy:
- Take showers instead of baths. A single bath can use up to 25 gallons of hot water, but a five-minute shower will use less than 10 gallons.
- Lower the thermostat. Doing so by even one degree overnight can reduce heating bills by one percent.
- Insulate the attic. About 25 percent of a home’s heat can escape through an uninsulated roof.
- During the day, open drapes and curtains to let the sun in. Conversely, close drapes at sundown to keep heat in the house.
- Consider vinyl replacement windows. In the average home, 38 percent of heat loss is through windows and doors. While the cost of replacing windows can be seen as a big expense, in time, vinyl replacement windows may save enough energy to pay for themselves.
“Windows and doors are typically responsible for about 40 percent of a home's heating bill,” said Pete DeSoto, President MI Windows and Doors, one of the largest manufacturers of vinyl, aluminum and cellular composite windows and doors in the country. Because thermal windows are typically two to four times more efficient than older single pane windows, DeSoto noted “that means you can expect your winter heating bills to drop an average of about 20 to 30 percent. The bigger your fuel bills and the draftier your old windows, the quicker the new windows will pay for themselves.”
With the anticipated high cost of home heating this year, it has become a front and center concern for most people, with plans to combat this dilemma ranging from lower thermostat settings to skimping on nutrition and medication, especially for those with low wages, fixed incomes and the elderly.
“The grim reality is the more money that needs to be spent on things like heat and oil, the more other items – both necessary and discretionary – will have to be cut back,” said DeSoto. “Not any single step taken in the home will erase the increased cost of energy and give back that money, but replacement windows and proper insulation will greatly reduce the impact of higher energy costs.”
As major home improvements go, replacing windows with high quality vinyl replacement windows is not nearly as expensive as other major home improvements, and much benefit can be received from doing so. Most importantly, it can greatly contribute to the comfort level in the home, as well as to the home’s energy performance. Additionally, when considering the resale value of a house, newer, energy efficient windows are a chief selling point.
Home heating solutions can start with energy efficient windows from MI Windows, featuring Energy Star… and more
MI Windows produces and distributes through Allied a variety of energy efficient, attractive, easy to install custom-sized windows. Their products are available with Low-emittance (Low-E) coating, a virtually invisible metal or metallic oxide layer on a window that lowers the total heat flow through the window.
Additionally, MI Windows’ products boast an Energy Star rating, the government-backed program formed in 1992 to help businesses and individuals protect the environment through energy efficiency. MI Windows is proud to be one of the earliest participants of Energy Star’s windows segment.
“If I was putting new windows in my home I would certainly look for the Energy Star label,” said DeSoto. “It doesn’t cost anything additional and it makes sense to save energy if you can get the same comforts at a lower cost. It’s the right thing to do.”
Another key feature for MI Windows is the Good Housekeeping Seal their products include. Noted DeSoto, “We are proud of that. The Good Housekeeping Seal is important to the consumer, but it also helped show our own employees that we are committed to making a quality product.”
A Window is Not Forever (or Windows vs. Diamonds)
Unlike popular ads boasting “A diamond is forever,” windows should never be viewed as eternal purchases.
“Deterioration is normal for windows since they are exposed to the elements,” explained DeSoto. “People tend not to do window maintenance unless something breaks, and generally don’t consider the normal wear that happens to windows over a period of time.”
Signs of windows that need replacing include worn out weather-stripping, rattling with opening and closing, and windows that do not go up and down as easily as they once did. In addition to wear, advancements in window technology also make replacing old windows a worthwhile investment.
“In the last 10 years, the options and technology available to improve the quality of windows have improved greatly and are significantly better than those made 20 years ago,” said DeSoto. Some future technologies include: a new generation of Low-E glass that will perfect the reflection of sun in summer while allowing sun in during winter; glass that will reflect out by the molecular change of the environment between two panels of insulated glass; and glass that will automatically turn opaque when someone walks to the door – you will be able to see them but they won’t be able to see you.
Said DeSoto, “Even with windows that are functioning properly, it’s worth investigating replacement windows after a certain number of years. Upcoming window technologies will perform better for consumers without sacrificing huge energy costs, making it a well worthwhile investment.”
For more information on replacement windows to help combat the cost of home heating this winter, contact Allied Building Products Corp. at www.alliedbuilding.com or MI Windows at www.mihomeproducts.com.