When it comes to improving the energy efficiency of a home, many homeowners overlook the importance of their windows.
But if your windows are letting in more than light, then it might be time to upgrade your home’s existing windows. Poorly fitted windows that let in cold drafts are more than just an issue of comfort. Windows that are poorly sealed or fitted can contribute to an increase in heat loss, resulting in higher heating bills in the winter months.
Despite being a long-term investment in improving your home’s energy efficiency, directly replacing windows may be cost prohibitive to some. Below are some alternative options for increasing the energy efficiency of your current windows.
1. Check the condition of your existing windows
Several options are available to homeowners when upgrading the energy efficiency of their home. Before doing any extensive upgrades, it’s important to determine the quality of your home’s windows.
Carefully assessing the condition of your home’s existing windows should be the first step. Then, check and note whether or not your windows operate with ease, have any defects (warpage, loose joints or glazing, faulty or rotting hardware, worn weatherstripping, etc.), or air leakage occurs.
Assessing the situation will determine the next steps in improving your windows’ energy efficiency. Four options are available for upgrading windows. These include retrofitting, reglazing, repairing, or replacing.
Retrofitting and reglazing windows require minor work but can greatly improve the energy efficiency of your windows. Repairing and replacing windows, on the other hand, may require extensive work. If major repairs or replacements are required, consider seeking the services of a professional.
2. Add window coverings
Your home’s drapes or blinds are more than just decorations. They can serve as integral components in increasing the energy efficiency of your windows. High quality insulated draperies and window blinds can weatherize your home.
Window coverings can effectively minimize heat loss in the winter while preventing solar heat gain from the sun to overly warm the home in the summer.
3. Seal with caulking and weatherstripping
Whether you hire an experienced professional or are a “do-it-yourself-er,” weatherizing your home with sealing, caulking, and weatherstripping will conserve the energy in your home, saving you money in the long run and increasing your home’s comfort.
Caulking and weatherstripping are cost-effective retrofit solutions to improving the effectiveness of your existing windows. When applied correctly, caulking and weatherstripping will not only reduce leaks and drafts throughout your home but will also improve utility costs in an effective and sustainable manner.
Caulk is most effective when employed to seal small cracks on non-moving parts of a window, no larger than 1/4 inch. Weatherstripping is best used on movable parts. For gaps larger than 1/4 inches or gaps that are irregular in shape, opt for spray foam.
4. Introduce window treatments
To reduce solar heat gain in the summer and improve your windows’ weather protection, consider introducing window treatments such as awnings, roof overhangs, and window shutters.
These three considerations use passive solar design to help block solar heat gain and improve energy efficiency. Overhangs are best incorporated into a new home design. For existing homes, consider window awnings. In the case of window shutters, exterior shutters can easily be integrated into existing home architecture. Interior installation will require special consideration.
5. Upgrade to triple glazed windows
If your windows are too far gone for a retrofit or repairs, and replacement is your only option, then consider upgrading your windows to triple pane glass.
Triple glazed windows are renowned for their energy efficiency, but they also perform many other benefits. Triple glazing has been noted to reduce noise, interior fading, security risks and condensation. Upgrading to triple glazed windows will also increase the resale value of your home.
As triple glazed windows have been built to specifically reduce energy usage and improve home insulation, triple glazed windows may remain the most cost-effective solution to improving your home’s energy efficiency.
And with so many design options available to homeowners looking to upgrade their existing windows to triple glazing, your home’s aesthetic features are not lost in the process.
Your home’s window system is a great source of light, warmth and ventilation. But along the same note, they can be a source of considerable energy loss and high utility bills. For those with a more restrictive budget, the suggestions posted above can ensure you improve your home’s energy efficiency without having to completely replace existing windows.
But, if your home’s windows require substantial upgrades, replacement or repair, then consider triple-glazed windows. If you cannot fully replace every window throughout your home with triple glazing, think about prioritizing larger windows and areas in your home that serve as main communal areas.