Review: Windows and the Energy Star Window Tax Credit

Proper window installation is a must to prevent water and air leaks/

Proper window installation is a must to prevent water and air leaks.

If you live in an older home in Southwest Washington or Oregon this time of year (and especially this past week as temperatures have stayed below freezing) you probably have started to notice a little wisps of cold air lapping at your feet or down your back when your sitting around the house.

There are some likely culprits: lack of insulation; bad seals on windows and doors; and old, single-pane or ineffective double-pane windows with aluminum frames.

The good news is all of these are easily remedied. For this article we’ll take a quick look at windows.

Savings and Incentives

First off, now is a good time to replace ineffective windows because of the number of incentives. According to the US Department of Energy, changing to energy efficient windows can lower your heating (and cooling) bill because they account for 10%-25% of it. Your local utility and the federal government are offering to share the costs of you making your home more energy efficient:

* Through the end of 2010 the federal government will give home owners a 30% tax rebate on qualified installed windows ( up to $1,500.
* In the Clark County Public Utilities District home owners can qualify for up to $500 in incentives ( or you may qualify for low interest loans to purchase and install them (
* The Energy Trust of Oregon is offering a variety of incentives and for qualifying home owners to install efficient windows (
* The Central Electric Co-Op in Oregon has an incentive program and low-interest loan program (

Choosing your Windows

Manufacturers offer the choice of vinyl, fiberglass, or wood and it’s really your preference as to what you want. For most homes vinyl windows are the best bet because they are easy to install and relatively inexpensive. Just remember in order to get the qualifying tax credits you must get a window that is Energy Star compliant. We provide a written confirmation to our clients that the windows they purchase qualify for the rebate.

We are asked regularly what brand of windows we recommend. If you are shopping brand, then certainly Milgard windows, a company started here in the Northwest, are a good bet. If you are simply hoping to get an Energy Star compliant vinyl window then you can spend less and get the same efficiency from a manufacturer such as Atrium, which is based in Dallas, TX.

After checking the ratings on the windows, my usual recommendation is for you to find a window that you like the operation of, because for the most part that will be your only interaction with the window.


With a qualified installer windows in a normal-sized home can be changed often in one to two days once the windows arrive from the factory.

Before the installer orders the windows they come to your home and measure. Then once the windows arrive the installer will remove the trim around the old window (if it exists) and remove the windows and entire frame. They then mount the new window and frame, shim it, check its operation and re-trim and seal the window and paint the trim if necessary.

Caulk Talk

The proper installation of a window is critical to the function of the window as well as the weatherproofing of your home. If installed incorrectly, which I see all the time, there is a good chance you will have moisture and air leaks. Remember, as with all siding and window installation, if you are depending on caulking to prevent air and water penetration you will have a problem – because caulking fails. We treat caulk as an appearance enhancer rather than a sealant. Although it will add to the effectiveness of the sealing…it should NOT be treated as a standalone solution. Our approach is simple but requires a little more time and patience. We treat our installations with the idea that there is no caulking filling any joints – and if the home can withstand water and air penetration then we have properly sealed the home. Then we caulk to add a finishing touch.

And as always – a good installer will dispose of your old windows and clean up after they are finished.

A Word of Caution

If you are thinking of replacing your existing windows be sure to get everything in writing. If you want the windows installed and finished, be sure your contract details exactly what the installer will be doing. I have seen all too often when an installer will install the windows but then say that they did not inlcude re-installing new trim or painting the trim. And the homeowner was left with doing this themselves or paying more. And as always – make sure your installer is licensed, bonded and insured, and that you have a written guarantee. We guarantee ours for seven years.

If you have any questions or are considering window replacement, feel free to call us at 360-571-7027 or fill out our form for a free consultation.

4 Comment(s)

  1. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

    Reseller Hosting | Jan 8, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thanks, and keep reading as we will continue to add more original content.

    admin | Jan 8, 2010 | Reply

  3. Fascinating – really enjoyed that. I nver knew tax credits could be so interesting 🙂

    Lisa Rogers | Jan 12, 2010 | Reply

  4. Just wait until you read our feature on insurance!

    admin | Jan 12, 2010 | Reply

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