Winter can be brutal and impact the comfort level of your home or office. Icy winds and frigid air will look for anywhere they can to infiltrate your space. This can make your property drafty and chilly and can also drive up your utility bills as your furnace works overtime to compensate.
Older windows may account for a significant portion of the cold air leaking into your home, thanks to worn out seals or cracks in the frames. By taking the time to winterize your windows, you can solve a large portion of the problem and have a warmer, more energy-efficient space.
Keep the Cold Out
Before the cold winds starts blowing in, take some time to make your home more energy-efficient to keep your family warm. Winterizing your windows is one way to save on energy bills. There are numerous techniques to insulate windows for winter. Here are five popular and effective ways to save some money and keep out the chill:
This is one of the most common methods of weatherproofing windows for winter. Applying weatherstripping to your windows seals the gaps between them and their frames.
Weatherstripping is available as strips of foam, rubber tubing, or rigid gaskets. Regardless which type you choose, these materials serve to create a barrier against the cold.
- Adhesive-backed foam: This is a compression-type of weather stripping. When the window closes against it, the foam compresses to seal gaps and block drafts. It features an easy peel-and-stick application.
Start by thoroughly cleaning the area around the inside of the window, as the adhesive won’t stick to dirty surfaces. On double-hung windows, apply adhesive-backed foam weather stripping to the bottom edge of the lower sash, and the top edge of the upper sash.
If you don’t want to apply the weather stripping to the sash, stick it to the sill directly below the lower sash, and the head jamb above the upper sash. Once the sash is closed and locked, the foam will seal out drafts. On sliding or casement windows, apply the adhesive-backed foam to the vertical edge of the sash.
- Tubular rubber-gasket: This is similar to adhesive-backed foam, except that it’s formed into a hollow rubber tube instead of dense foam. When compressed by the sash, the tubular weatherstripping conforms to the space, effectively sealing out drafts.
Some tubular gaskets have a peel-and-stick adhesive backing, while others have an attached metal or wood flange that must be secured with nails or screws. There are also foam-filled tubular gaskets that have a spongy-foam core that holds its shape better than the hollow-core gaskets.
- Spring V-Seal: This is a resilient plastic or metal strip that comes folded into a V-shape. It’s known as tension-seal weather stripping because the V-shape springs open, creating tension between the sash and window frame that blocks the passage of air.
Plastic V-seal can be cut with scissors and has a peel-and-stick backing. The metal V-seal comes in copper, aluminum, bronze, and stainless steel. It must be nailed in place.
V-seals can be installed vertically along the sides of double-hung windows and at the horizontal meeting rail where the two sashes meet when closed. On casement or sliding windows, V-seal is installed along the vertical side jamb where the sash closes.
- Felt: Felt is one of the oldest types of weatherstripping. It’s commonly sold in rolls with or without an adhesive backing. It is also available with an attached metal mounting flange.
Felt is used as compression weatherstripping around the inside of double-hung, casement, and sliding windows. It is affordable and easy to install, but it doesn't last as long as other types of weatherstripping. You’ll have to replace it every four to six years.
When the caulking around your windows has deteriorated or shrunk, it creates gaps where freezing air can creep inside. If that’s true anywhere around your property, re-caulking could be another way to winterize your windows.
You’ll need to remove the old caulk with a screwdriver, putty knife, or another tool before reapplying new caulking. It’s also important to choose the right compound, as not all are suitable for outdoor applications. To achieve the best results, the temperature needs to be higher than 45 degrees Fahrenheit when the caulking is applied.
3. Draft Snakes
One of the simplest forms of keeping air coming in from windows or doors is a draft stopper or draft snake. This is a long sleeve filled with dense materials such as dry rice. Many people make them at home out of old socks or sweatpants.
Draft stoppers may be enough to block a small amount of air from the outside. They work best when laid along the bottom edge of the window. Draft snakes are easy and inexpensive compared to other types of weatherproofing.
4. Shrink-wrap Kits
Window insulation kits consist of shrink-wrap plastic. They block out drafts by covering the windowpanes. The plastic has a double-sided tape that keeps it in place, thereby making it an effective way to winterize the window.
These kits seal the entire pane and prevent any air from getting in or out of the room. They are very effective at sealing out drafts; however, the windows cannot be opened without first removing the plastic. The view from the window is also hindered because of the plastic film.
5. Window Inserts
Also known as interior storm windows, these customized inserts fit snugly into the existing frame. They create a near airtight seal that blocks the cold, outside noise, and harmful UV radiation.
Some window contractors use software to design compression-fit inserts that fit virtually any existing window. These inserts can be installed without hardware and are almost undetectable. They cost less than installing new windows.
Storm windows can increase energy-efficiency. There are federal tax credits to help offset their cost. They are available in different models; one model uses plastics while another boasts of top-quality glass.
Storm windows have features for permanent installation. If you prefer something temporary, low e-glass storm windows will work just as well.
6. Cellular Blinds
If you’re looking for a more aesthetic solution, check out dual-celled window blinds. These items are expensive, but they last a long time. Cellular blinds not only stop the cold from entering your home but also puts an end to the summer heat from entering. For best results, especially when children and pets are around, install the top down bottom up blinds without the cords.
7. Thermal Curtains and Drapes
Hanging curtains on the window can help keep the cold out. Thermal insulating curtains have two or three layers of thick fabric. Added to that is a layer of acrylic foam to prevent air infiltration and cold. Curtains also serve as a simple way to enjoy privacy and add a dash of color.
Signs Your Home Has Drafty Windows
Poorly fitted or sealed windows can be a major frustration during the winter months, letting in cold drafts that blur the lines between indoors and out. Unfortunately, this isn't just an issue of comfort. Windows with air leaks pose a real energy efficiency problem as well.
The cold air that seeps into your home through these leaks forces your heating system to work that much harder to maintain a stable and comfortable temperature. Poorly fitted and sealed windows also make it easier for the warm air inside your home to get out. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that as much as one-third of the average home's heat loss occurs through windows and doors.
If you notice any of the following signs, you may be dealing with leaky home windows.
- Draft. If you can feel a breeze or draft coming through or around the sides of your windows, you need to seal or upgrade them.
- Foggy Glass. If you notice that the windows in your home fog up like the inside of a car, that’s a sign that their quality has been compromised. Windows start to fog when the seal between the panes of glass is broken, which allows cold air to get inside.
- Higher Energy Bills. If your heating system has not changed, but your winter energy bills keep increasing, that’s a sign your home has drafty windows. The heating system has to work harder just to maintain the same temperature as before because more cold air is coming into your home.
- Damaged Windows. Inspect your windows for damage. If you see signs of damage on the interior frames or the exterior weather stripping, you should be concerned. Types of damage can include holes or cracks that are letting in air. If you can see the light coming in, you also have cold air coming into your home as well.
Time to Replace Your Leaky Windows?
If you’ve determined that your windows are leaking air, it’s time to learn what to do about it. If the weatherstripping has run its course, there’s only one thing to do about old drafty windows, upgrade them to something stylish and energy efficient.
At Banner Construction, we offer a wide variety of window styles and materials. We know windows like no one else and can help you replace those leaky or drafty windows with beautiful replacements that will last for years.