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Title: Low-E Retrofit Demonstration and Educational Program

The objective of this project was to demonstrate the capability of low-emissivity (low-E) storm windows / panels and low-E retrofit glazing systems to significantly and cost effectively improve the energy efficiency of both existing residential and commercial buildings. The key outcomes are listed below: RESIDENTIAL CASE STUDIES: (a) A residential case study in two large multifamily apartment buildings in Philadelphia showed a substantial 18-22% reduction in heating energy use and a 9% reduction in cooling energy use by replacing old clear glass storm windows with modern low-E storm windows. Furthermore, the new low-E storm windows reduced the overall apartment air leakage by an average of 10%. (b) Air leakage testing on interior low-E panels installed in a New York City multifamily building over windows with and without AC units showed that the effective leakage area of the windows was reduced by 77-95%. (c) To study the use of low-E storm windows in a warmer mixed climate with a balance of both heating and cooling, 10 older homes near Atlanta with single pane windows were tested with three types of exterior storm windows: clear glass, low-E glass with high solar heat gain, and low-E glass with lower solar heat gain. Themore » storm windows significantly reduced the overall home air leakage by an average of 17%, or 3.7 ACH50. Considerably high variability in the data made it difficult to draw strong conclusions about the overall energy usage, but for heating periods, the low-E storm windows showed approximately 15% heating energy savings, whereas clear storm windows were neutral in performance. For cooling periods, the low-E storm windows showed a wide range of performance from 2% to over 30% cooling energy savings. Overall, the study showed the potential for significantly more energy savings from using low-E glass versus no storm window or clear glass storm windows in warmer mixed climates, but it is difficult to conclusively say whether one type of low-E performed better than the other. COMMERCIAL CASE STUDIES: (a) A 12-story office building in Philadelphia was retrofitted by adding a double-pane low-E insulating glass unit to the existing single pane windows, to create a triple glazed low-E system. A detailed side-by-side comparison in two pairs of perimeter offices facing north and east showed a 39-60% reduction in heating energy use, a 9-36% reduction in cooling energy use, and a 10% reduction in peak electrical cooling demand. An analysis of utility bills estimated the whole building heating and cooling energy use was reduced by over 25%. Additionally, the retrofit window temperatures were commonly 20 degrees warmer on winter days, and 10-20 degrees cooler on summer days, leading to increased occupant comfort. (b) Two large 4-story office buildings in New Jersey were retrofitted with a similar system, but using two low-E coatings in the retrofit system. The energy savings are being monitored by a separate GPIC project; this work quantified the changes in glass surface temperatures, thermal comfort, and potential glass thermal stress. The low-E retrofit panels greatly reduced daily variations in the interior window surface temperatures, lowering the maximum temperature and raising the minimum temperature by over 20F compared to the original single pane windows with window film. The number of hours of potential thermal discomfort, as measured by deviation between mean radiant temperature and ambient air temperature by more than 3F, were reduced by 93 percent on the south orientation and over two-thirds on the west orientation. Overall, the low-E retrofit led to substantially improved occupant comfort with less periods of both overheating and feeling cold. (c) No significant thermal stress was observed in the New Jersey office building test window when using the low-E retrofit system over a variety of weather conditions. The surface temperature difference only exceeded 10F (500 psi thermal stress) for less than 1.5% of the monitored time, and in all cases, the maximum surface temperature difference never exceeded 35F (1,750 psi thermal stress). LOW-E STORM WINDOW OUTREACH AND EDUCATION PROGRAM: (a) The project team assisted the State of Pennsylvania in adding low-E storm windows as a cost effective weatherization measure on its priority list for the state weatherization assistance program. (b) No technical barriers that could hinder widespread application were identified in the case studies. However, educational barriers have been identified, in that weatherization personnel commonly misunderstand how the application of low-E storm windows is very different than much more expensive full window replacement. (c) A package of educational materials was developed to help communicate the benefits of low-E storm windows and retrofits as a cost effective tool for weatherization personnel. (d) Using detailed thermal simulations, more accurate U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) values were determined for low-E storm windows installed over different primary windows. IN SUMMARY, this work confirmed the potential for low-E storm windows, panels, and retrofit systems to provide significant energy savings, reductions in air leakage, and improvements in thermal comfort in both residential and commercial existing buildings.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4]
  1. Birch Point Consulting LLC
  2. Home Innovation Research Labs, Inc.
  3. Quanta Technologies Inc.
  4. Larson Manufacturing
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Scientific Report EE0004015
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Quanta Technologies Inc.
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Building Technologies Office (EE-5B)
Country of Publication:
United States
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION Low-e storm windows; low-e glass; window retrofit; existing buildings; building case study; energy savings