The major selling point of energy service companies (ESCOs), and why so many businesses turn to them over standard contractors, is the guarantee of energy savings. Many energy efficiency projects require a significant amount of time before the building owners actually receive a return on their investment. This conflict between the need for energy saving measures and minimizing upfront cost makes it challenging for ESCOs to maximize building performance and ensure timely returns for their clients.
A seemingly minor component of a building brings about major impact on a building’s energy performance: windows. Large federal and private building envelopes can contain thousands of windows. Windows are the vulnerable point for most buildings in terms of energy performance. From high air filtration due to improperly sealed frames to single pane glass that doesn’t insulate efficiently to prevent solar gain from outdoor light and temperature from affecting internal conditions, windows make a big difference in terms of energy usage via heating and cooling systems.
Total window replacement can be costly and require significant capital investment. A more affordable yet effective solution is window retrofitting. A window retrofit utilizes the current existing window and improves its performance by attaching a new frame on the interior, and improving the performance at an equivalent rate of upgrading from a single pane window to a double pane.
The cost savings and investment return of window retrofits result from a variety of contributing factors:
• Construction Costs – with window retrofits, clients of ESCOs won’t have to deal with the construction costs of window replacement or other green upgrades. The materials themselves are affordable and the installation method is quick (even within minutes) and doesn’t require any vacancy period or corresponding disruption in business.
• Maintenance Costs – having efficient windows due to retrofitting will help reduce heating and cooling needs by lowering energy demand. A great deal of energy is wasted when HVAC systems are running at a high capacity because of outside air infiltration and solar gain from improperly insulated windows. This makes systems work harder and be more likely to require maintenance or replacement sooner than necessary.
• Annual Utility Costs – once window retrofits are installed and insulating the building envelope, HVAC systems no longer have to constantly fight to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the building. The reduced HVAC usage saves energy, which in turn lowers the facility’s utility bills.
• Improve Sustainability – beyond energy budget issues, retrofitting existing windows can preserve the integrity of structurally sound buildings and prevent costs associated with the long-term consequences of inefficient windows. Leaky windows can cause structural damage over time by allowing condensation to enter the building and eventually make its way into the walls.
Thermolite offers an affordable solution for ESCO window retrofit projects with our patented window system, which have been found to demonstrate energy savings of 20% and are ideal for federal, commercial, and historical buildings. Contact Thermolite today to learn more about how we work with ESCOs and how our window systems could contribute to your next energy savings project.