Do Energy-Efficient Products Really Save Money?

In 2012, The New York Times reported on the findings of a test conducted by the Federal Trade Commission with regard to claims made by five window companies. Among the claims was that use of a particular item could save consumers “up to 47 percent” on heating and air conditioning costs. The Times claimed that many Americans understood the statement to mean that they would save “almost half” on their bills, indicating an assumption that their units would operate with the highest efficiency possible.


FTC Alleges Ads Deceptive

The test was said to be conducted in connection to settlement proceedings between the five window manufacturers and the FTC. The companies were alleged to have made “deceptive” and “misleading” statements about the efficacy of their windows in marketing materials and advertising. In a statement, the FTC offered the position that customers should be “likely” to achieve the maximum efficiency under “normal” conditions, if the manufacturers were going to continue to make the claims.

A piece with the FTC website asks whether or not new windows really have the potential to save consumers money. Whether shopping for a contractor to perform home window replacement in Phoenix AZ, Bellevue WA, or Washington DC, the FTC encourages consumers learn the “truth” about window replacement: savings are dependent on “several factors.”

Savings Depend On Circumstances

For instance, how old are the windows that are currently installed in your home, and how efficient are they? Replacing newer windows for aesthetic purposes should not be expected to significantly impact heating and cooling bills, just because the windows have been updated.

Another factor, often overlooked, is the level of insulation present in the walls of the house where window renovations are planned. Even the best-insulating windows can do little to keep out heat and cold if walls and ceilings aren’t properly insulated. Further, the more windows a home has, their location, and the total percentage of window area, compared with wall area, of a home, will have a huge impact on how well new windows will perform as insulators.

Single Pane Replacement Most Effective

Single-pane windows may be fine in southern states. However, homeowners in northern states, and all cold climates, should insist on double-paned, Energy Star windows. While some window renovations may be less-than-effective at reducing heating costs, replacing single-paned windows with double panes, will undoubtedly save money. Energy Star reports that replacing single-pane windows could save as much as $465 each year, compared with $111, at most, for replacing double-paned windows with Energy Star versions.

Window frames constructed from wood and vinyl are reported to offer among the best insular properties. Wood frames require refinishing about once every 10 to 15 years, but can last many decades. Vinyl frames require less maintenance, but may be less durable than properly maintained solid wood. It is paramount that windows and frames be installed according to manufacturer specifications. Otherwise, homeowners may not get the expected performance from new windows.