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We Didn’t Save Any Money After All

Last year my husband and I had new windows and doors installed in our home. In fact, we had every exterior door and window replaced. We did this for two reasons. First, our old windows were absolutely abysmal. Many of the windows couldn’t be opened, a few of the panes were cracked and the screens in just about every one had holes that allowed bugs of all types to fly in. On nice warm days I was unable to open most of the windows and I couldn’t stand the fact that we couldn’t let in the fresh air.

In addition to comfort we renovated the windows in the hopes of saving a significant amount of money on our gas and electric bills. Our house was built in the 1950s and the windows were constructed of single pane glass that you could feel the cold air pushing through. In the wintertime our house was downright frigid. I thought for sure that our bills would shrink after the installation was complete.

Tonight I reviewed the past three years worth of utility bills and I’m afraid to say I see little improvement in the amount of money we shell out each month to heat and cool our home. I find it rather difficult to compare data from various years because I don’t know what the weather was like for each individual month.

It’s obvious that a very cold winter cannot be compared to a moderate one, because we probably cranked the thermostat up much higher. It’s also difficult to compare the data because we are keeping the house much warmer for our son than we ever did when it was just the two of us. Despite these differences I expected to see a fair amount of difference in usage, but unfortunately I don’t see much difference at all.

I’m curious if anyone else has ever installed windows and doors to provide greater energy efficiency. If so, did you have any success? I wonder if we have other areas of our home that our draining the heat and/or cold out of our home or if there are other culprits of our energy usage.

Cindy Brick

Monday 13th of February 2012

Up until a month ago, I would have ho-hoed and ha-had the idea that new windows and doors would actually save heating costs -- but we had all our dining room windows, plus the deck door, plus a few smaller windows replaced. I am amazed at how much warmer it is to sit in those rooms at night -- and our heating bill went from $124 (last year) to $66 (this year, for the same month). We did have slightly warmer temperatures around here -- but not that much. So yes, at least in our case, it worked. I'd suspect you're using up some of the extra savings by keeping the heat on -- and up -- 24 hours a day. We keep our thermostat generally at 62-65 degrees. Kept it at 68 degrees when we had young kids at home.

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One Frugal Girl

Sunday 12th of February 2012

@Vivienne Ellis - I wish I'd thought about the curtains before we had our new ones installed. Prior to getting the windows upgraded we actually didn't have any curtains on the first floor at all! We now have curtains on all of the windows, but I don't know if they provide much in terms of keeping the house warm. I think they might just be pretty to look at :-(

@Little Miss Money Bags - The rates have risen slightly, but not enough to account for the slim margins. Good thought though. I also plan to investigate the money back option for not being satisfied with our windows. I don't think our company had something like that, but it's certainly worth taking a few minutes to look into.

@Michelle - I'm not certain how to inspect the insulation in our walls. Our walls are made of plaster not drywall. Do you have to cut a hole in one of the walls to find out or is there a less intrusive method?

@April - I'm not sure about the insulation or the electrical outlets. I guess that'll be up next on our list of things to investigate.

@jolie - While the cost savings might not be there. I have to say that replacing the windows is still one of the best home improvements we've ever had. The house is certainly less drafty, but the ease of opening windows is so much better! I don't know about your windows, but ours required a key to open the ones on the first floor. It was a complete pain in the a** so more often than not we just didn't open them at all, which made us rely on air conditioning a lot more than I wanted.

@Clare - I hadn't considered the impact of being home all day. Not only are we keeping the heat up higher, but you are correct we are running it 24 hours a day. Last year we were using a programmable thermostat to turn the temperature down when we weren't at home. Good point and something I hadn't considered!

Clare Chatfield

Sunday 12th of February 2012

Are you accounting for the fact that you are home all day every day vs. a year ago when you would have been at work for 9 or 10 hours a day Mon to Fri?


Sunday 12th of February 2012

Our house was built in the 50s too and we get build up of ice on most of them during the coldest days so replacing them is on our list. I was hoping it would save on energy bills as well. Thanks for posting about this.


Saturday 11th of February 2012

We added several new windows and storm doors with great success.

On a windy day, do the candle test. Walk around your exterior walls and vents with a lit candle while the heat is off. Watch the flame. When it gets in a draft it will flicker all over the place.

Did you insulate all of your electrical outlets?? Cold air comes in around them as well. Are your walls insulated?

Many electric companies rent or loan voltage meters, which will tell you what is sucking down too much electric.

Insulated drapes help.

Is your attic insulated?

If you have a fireplace, maybe you need to make a guard to place over it when not in use, and make sure the damper is closed.

Any window or wall ac units need to be covered in the winter.

Do you have a basement or a crawl space? It might need insulation as well.