Insulation Services: Federal tax credits set to expire by end of year
On Dec. 31, the federal tax credit worth up to $1,500 for energy-efficient home improvements will expire, leaving procrastinating homeowners out in the cold - or at least chilly from their old, drafty windows.
In addition to tax credit savings, many window sellers are offering savings on qualifying windows during October, which happens to be National Energy Awareness month.
"The timing couldn't be better for value shoppers to make the investment into new energy efficient windows for their homes," says Erin Johnson, window expert for Edgetech I.G. "Special offers and tax credits will add up through December, but the long-term savings on energy bills will be long-lasting if consumers do their homework to find the right windows to meet all of their needs."
Shopping for replacement windows
The first rule of thumb when shopping for new sustainable windows is to understand what the labels mean, and to read them carefully. Windows that bear the ENERGY STAR label are proven to reduce heating and cooling costs, and are National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) approved for U-factor (the rate of heat loss through the window) and solar heat gain (how well the window blocks heat from the sun).
To meet the federal tax credit requirements, windows must achieve a .30 U-factor and .30 solar heat gain coefficient, and this information should be clearly marked on the windows.
"The existence of condensation on windows is a sign that a window is inefficient," Johnson says. "This can even occur in newer, poorly constructed windows and will lead to other problems, including mold and damage to curtains, walls, carpet and the window itself. Most importantly, moisture can lead to seal failure and the need to replace the entire window system."
Some NFRC labels include condensation resistance (CR), which is reported on a scale from one to 100, and measures the ability of a product to resist formation of condensation on the interior surface of the product. The higher the CR rating, the better that product is at resisting condensation formation. While this rating cannot predict condensation, it can provide a credible method of comparing the potential of various products for condensation formation. This rating is not required to be posted on new windows - so be sure to do your homework if it isn't there.
The primary component to watch for to prevent condensation is the spacer - the window component that separates and seals the two panes of glass. According to the NFRC, an important step toward reducing the potential for condensation is the use of a warm edge spacer system that reduces the conductivity through the edge of the window.
"Non-metal, dual-sealed warm edge spacer systems, such as Super Spacer, are less conductive than metal spacers, which leads to less condensation in insulating glass windows," Johnson says. "Because of its all-foam, no-metal design, Super Spacer offers the highest condensation resistance in the industry."
According to Johnson, all-foam spacers have other benefits that will ensure the long-term energy performance of replacement windows. "Rigid, metal spacers do not bend, so over time stress from wind, snow and barometric pressure changes can cause the seal to crack. A flexible spacer will expand and contract with weather changes, keeping the seal intact and the window performing longer," she says.
A survey conducted by the Alliance to Save Energy found that 64 percent of homes in the U.S. have single-pane windows, which contribute up to 35 percent of energy wasted in buildings. In cold climates, energy-efficient, dual-pane windows with low-e coatings can reduce heating bills by as much as 34 percent. In warm climates, they can cut cooling costs by 38 percent.
For more energy-efficient window buying tips and tax credit information, visit www.sustainaview.com..
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