Celebrate 15 percent savings with ENERGY STAR windows

April 02, 2012

Happy 20th birthday to ENERGY STAR. The federal program, first introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992, has established rating guidelines for a vast array of products. As of 2012, more than 5 billion ENERGY STAR qualified products have been sold, and participating U.S. families and businesses have saved nearly $230 billion on utility bills.

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The initial work done by ENERGY STAR was to work with manufacturers to encourage development of products that reduced manufacturing and operational energy costs. In the 1990s, the program embraced ratings for doors, windows, dishwashers, refrigerators, heating and cooling equipment and more.

It has been a steady, uphill climb to educate the public about the advantages of energy efficient products. By 2000, 40 percent of U.S. households knew of the ENERGY STAR label and were buying recommended doors, windows, appliances and more. Today, 30 to 45 percent of households report having bought an ENERGY STAR qualified product. More than 1.3 million new ENERGY STAR-rated homes were built in America in 2011.

In 1997, ENERGY STAR moved into rating lighting products, identifying compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs that are 75 percent more energy efficient than incandescent ones. In 2012, CFLs are expected to own a fourth of the U.S. market, or about 300 million bulbs sold.

Window replacement prices offset by energy efficiency

If you're concerned about the total replacement window cost consider the added protection, value and energy efficiency of ENERGY STAR rated windows. Window replacement prices also vary widely, depending on the options in coatings and insulating gases.

ENERGY STAR reports an average 15 percent reduction in heating and cooling bills from swapping out old single-pane or outdated double-paned windows for today's products. In the Pacific Northwest, homeowners have recouped around $250 a year in reduced utility bills from the new windows. Savings may rise to over $370 in the Northern states, with up to $300 in reduced cooling bills in Florida. An online table for City Savings Estimates shows energy savings possible in different cities using ENERGY STAR windows as replacements.

Replacement windows are rated today by their U-Factor, visible transmittance, and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, or SHGC. The U-Factor measures insulation qualities of the window. Visible transmittance ratings tell consumers how much light comes through the window. SHGC measures how well the window performs in blocking exterior rays and heat from the sun.

In its first-ever consumer awareness campaign in the mid-1990s, ENERGY STAR told homeowners that all products come with two price tags. The first tag is how much you pay for the door, window, HVAC product or appliance. The second price is for the energy each product uses.

Thanks to the 20-year efforts of ENERGY STAR, today's consumers have a choice about how much energy they want to pay for each month. And that alone deserves a cake and candles!


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