Upgrading your windows may be one way to significantly lower your energy bill. Researchers are comparing two experimental homes to find out how much you can save.
Two model homes sit side-by-side in a small field. Inside, the prefabricated houses look brand new. But research equipment is taking the place of furniture.
Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are studying the two homes to find out how effective energy-efficient technology is.
The baseline home is designed like older homes in the area. The other experimental home is being retrofitted with new energy-saving materials. First thing that went up: the windows.
“Windows are a really important part of energy efficiency of a building,” said Sarah Widder, research engineer at the lab.
Widder said they downgraded windows in the baseline home to match what’s in homes now. And they installed triple-paned windows in the experimental home. The new triple paned windows made a big difference in energy savings.
Results just analyzed from over the winter show the triple-paned windows lowered energy use by up to 15 percent. The baseline home was a different story.
“Those windows are basically like a hole in your house, and a lot of the heat gets transferred through the window,” Widder said.
She said the triple-paned windows help regulate temperature inside, making it more comfortable.
“The sun caused the baseline home to get up to about 84 degrees on some sunny days. Even when I think it was like 20s outside. The experimental home that we’re in now maintained a really constant 75-degree temperature. And we’re seeing that in the summer time as well,” Widder said.
Widder said she is finding more energy savings in the summer months. She expects that the energy-efficient windows could pay for themselves in 10 years or less.
Next, researchers will experiment with smart appliances – like ovens, washing machines and refrigerators.