Window company helps users navigate energy efficiency

Posted by Steve Graham | Aug 26, 2010
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Weather Shield WindowsMad props to the Weather Shield company for going beyond marketing and self-promotion in its online sustainability efforts. The company, which makes energy-efficient doors and windows, just launched its EnergySmart Solutions Guide, a fairly extensive “micro-site” about energy efficiency.

The site helps users navigate the complicated world of energy-efficient windows. It has an energy-savings climate map, detailed information about window materials and lists rebates and tax credits, including Weather Shield’s own “Live Smart” rebate offer. The company offers homeowners up to $550 in rebates for replacing patio doors and windows with Weather Shield’s most efficient glazing — the Zo-e-shield. The rebate can be used in conjunction with federal stimulus bill tax credits of up to $1,500.

New energy efficiency rebates may be particularly attractive now, as most states’ Energy Star rebates have expired. This year, each state received federal funds to hand out to residents for buying Energy Star appliances and other products. Illinois’ $6.2 million rebate program started in April and lasted less than 11 hours. The $9.3 million Georgia program began in February and expired last week. Arkansas saw unusually low demand for rebates when the state launched the program in March, so it increased rebate amounts in June. After improving the incentives, the $2.74 million program expired on Monday.

Weather Shield claims the Zo-e-shield can cut energy bills by as much as 30 percent. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that Energy Star windows and doors can save 7 to 15 percent as compared to comparable non-Energy Star products. It estimates that replacing old, single-pane windows with Energy Star windows will save homeowners up to $465 per year on electric bills — equivalent to 4,545 pounds of carbon dioxide or 234 gallons of gasoline.

Savings will vary by location, and window needs also vary by location. Energy Star labels list the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, which is the amount of solar heat trapped inside the window, on a scale from 0 to 1. In warm climates, look for a low number and keep out the summer heat. In cold climates, look for a higher number and trap winter sunlight.

Metallic oxide coatings can help reflect heat and insulate windows. They should be applied on the outside in warm climates to keep out the heat. Conversely, in colder climates, coat inside panes to help trap heat inside the house. However, avoid spectrally selective coatings in cold climates. They are designed to allow in the full light spectrum but block infrared solar heat.

Also keep in mind that savings on energy bills will only be maximized with the right caulking, weatherization and window coverings.

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