New Windows Could Cut Your Energy Costs

Aug 27, 2012

Upgrading your windows may be one way to significantly lower your energy bill. Researchers in Richland, Washington, are comparing two homes to find out how much you can save. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has this report.

Two model homes sit side-by-side in a small field. Inside, the prefabricated houses look brand new. But research equipment is taking the place of furniture.

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland are studying the two homes to find out how effective energy-efficient technology is.

The baseline home is designed like older homes in the area. The other experimental home is being retrofitted with new energy-saving materials. First that went up: the windows.

Widder: “Windows are a really important part of energy efficiency of a building.”

Sarah Widder is an engineer at the lab and involved in the experiment. She says they downgraded windows in the baseline home to match what’s in homes now. And they installed triple-paned windows in the experimental home. The new triple paned windows made a big difference in energy savings.

Results just analyzed from over the winter show the triple-paned windows lowered energy use by up to 15 percent. The baseline home was a different story:

Widder: “Those windows are basically like a hole in your house, and a lot of the heat gets transferred through the window.”

Widder says she is finding more energy savings in the summer months. Next, researchers will experiment with smart appliances – like ovens, washing machines and refrigerators.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public radio