With the rising costs of electricity and gas, many companies are looking for ways to save energy. While replacing your facility’s windows may not be at the top of your to-do list, it’s worth considering. Each building is unique, and there are a number of variables to consider when determining the true payback of replacement windows, such as the climate in your area, the condition of the building’s HVAC system, the existing windows and frames, and the facility itself. When you consider the following factors, the benefits of new windows may outweigh the costs of maintaining your building’s old, inefficient windows.
Heat Gain and Loss – Depending how old your building is, the windows may only have single-pane glass, and may not have any type of coating to block heat and UV rays. This allows summer heat to enter the building, and costly indoor heat to escape in the winter. Your facilities manager can work with HVAC engineers to determine just how much this heat gain or loss is raising your building’s heating and cooling costs.
Maintenance – Wood window frames, in particular, are high-maintenance and require regular scraping and painting. Most older window frames, however, require regular maintenance to seal gaps and repair cracks.
Energy Savings – The exact amount of money you can save on heating and cooling cost varies, as noted above, but your facilities manager and an HVAC engineer should be able to come up with an estimate. Using the U-value (rate of heat transfer through a window) and R-value (how well a window resists heat flow), they can estimate how much heat gain/loss the new windows would have to compare against those numbers for the existing windows.
Reduced Sound Transmission – This isn’t a monetary benefit, of course, but for an office building on a busy street or a hospital or apartment where people may be sleeping, keeping a building quiet can make the occupants much more comfortable. Windows with a higher sound transmission class (STC) number will block the most sound.
Durable and Long-Lasting - Today’s window frame materials hold up to weather and time better than many comparable older versions. Aluminum frames, for example, are less susceptible to corrosion and air leakage than steel window frames, less likely to deteriorate than wood, and usually have an anodized finish to resist scratches. This means you’ll have less maintenance costs and it will be many years before your building’s windows will need to be replaced again.
Several factors impact the cost of replacing the windows at your facility.
Windows – Most new windows will have two panes of glass with an insulating layer of air or gas between them. Choosing windows with an air-fill gap can save 3-7% off the cost of windows with an argon-filled gap. Air doesn’t insulate quite as well as argon, however. Another, more expensive option is krypton, which is a good insulator and works well with small gaps between panes. Tinting windows increases the cost about 10% on average, and a low-e coating can raise the price as much as 44%.
Frames – The material used in the frame itself is a factor in the cost, as well as any special finishes or coatings that are added. Aluminum frames can have an inexpensive acrylic finish, but the color has been known to bleed or fade, sometimes in as little as a year. A Fluorocarbon, Kynar or polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) finish costs more than acrylic but resists fading and chalking better. Other popular frame materials are vinyl and fiberglass. Wood frames are still a good option for some buildings, but they have a higher cost for maintenance, since they have to be scraped and painted every few years.
Installation – Another factor in the cost of replacement windows is the way they’ll be installed. If the existing window frames are damaged, you’ll need a complete tear-out to remove the window, sash and frame. This is the most expensive option. A less costly choice is to recover the existing frame and just replace the operable part of the window.
Even if the benefits of new windows are attractive, sometimes there’s just not money in the budget to replace all the existing windows.
Solar Control Film – Facility managers can have a solar control film installed on the existing window glass. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to reduce the transfer of light and UV rays into the building.
Security and Safety Film – In the case of a broken window, this fil will hold the glass together. Installation costs are minimal.
Storm Windows – Even commercial buildings can have storm windows, or performance panels, installed as an extra layer of insulation to save energy and reduce noise. They can be installed on the outside or side of the existing glass, but the frames must be in good condition for this option. Adding storm windows to a historic building can help reduce energy loss while still maintaining the original windows appearance, which is a requirement of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation’s federal tax credit for a renovation.
If you’d like to learn more about replacing some or all of your facility’s old, inefficient windows, contact the experts at Precision Windows & Doors. We’ve been serving businesses of all sizes in the Kansas City area for more than 30 years. Request a free estimate at 816-524-8999 or 913-649-1199.