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ECM: Building Envelope

B2. Install Replacement Windows


Image: Energy-efficient replacement windows have a number of benefits.Windows play a major role in the energy use and comfort of a dwelling unit. In the winter, heat in a room is lost when cold outside air infiltrates around the edges of windows. Heat also can be lost by conduction directly through the pane, even if the window fits tightly. The cold drafts and the chilly windowpane make the room uncomfortable. But windows also can help to heat a room by letting the sun’s rays enter. While this solar radiation is beneficial in the winter, it can be a major source of discomfort in hot, summer climates.


  • Single-family and multifamily buildings whose windows need replaced due to deterioration
  • Buildings in which residents control the heating


  • Double- and triple-pane
  • Inert gas-filled
  • Coated


  • Some windows (e.g., casements) cannot readily be equipped with storm windows.

Image: New window designs offer increased efficiency.Performance/Economics

  • Replacing poor-quality windows can save 10 to 20 percent on heating energy.
  • If the existing heating system is not adequately controlled, no savings will occur because residents will have to open their windows for relief from overheating.


Energy Conservation for Housing – A Workbook, HUD, September 1998. Pages 7-9 through 7-12 address energy saving storm windows.

HUD Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor. Discusses selection of windows, skylights, and doors.

Selecting New Energy-Efficient Widnows. Part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Consumer's Guide.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Apartment Buildings, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 1995. ISBN 0-918249-23-6. Pages 90 through 95 address window energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR® Windows. A partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and manufacturers of windows, doors, and skylights. Addresses energy-efficient windows, applications, and more.

Efficient Windows Collaborative. Addresses windows and efficiency, including fact sheets to help select windows by location.

Selecting Windows for Energy Efficiency. A more detailed Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory publication that discusses energy-related characteristics of windows, energy performance ratings, selection guidelines.

National Fenestration Rating Council. Provides consistent ratings on window, door and skylight products.