How to winterize windows and save energy

How to winterize windows and save energy

Winter can put your furnace through quite the workout. Add in the fact that your windows may not be doing your heating system any favors and you could be facing utility bills that are far too high thanks to the loss of heat.

To prevent heat loss through windows in your home, you need to know to winterize windows, if needed. Even homes that have highly efficient windows could possibly use a little winterization to keep out the cold and retain a house's heat.

Homes lose heat through windows

Windows typically make up anywhere from 15% to 20% of a home's wall surface area. Though windows are great for allowing natural light in and making homes more appealing in general, they also gain heat in the summer months and lose heat in the winter months.

In fact, that heat loss and gain is responsible for 25% to 30% of home heating and cooling energy consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Add a layer of plastic or glass

A very common way to winterize windows for winter is to add a layer of plastic or glass over the window and to make sure that additional layer is sealed.

It's a cheap and easy solution because there are so many window insulation kits available at many common stores. Look for a heat-shrink plastic kit that can be heated - even with a simple hair dryer - to form an airtight seal around the window. This will solve any air infiltration or leak problems.

That plastic layer can cause some issues, though. For one, you have to be careful not to damage the window when removing the plastic once the weather outside warms up. Removing the plastic could damage paint or varnish. So, be sure to take care when removing the plastic and read all instructions from the manufacturer.

Install storm windows

Another solution is to install interior storm windows, which add another layer of glass. Storm windows will cover the entire window and will last many years more than the one-time-use disposable plastic insulation wrap kits.

Depending on the type of storm window, these can either be custom made to fit within tracks or come with weatherstripping for a press-in installtion.

Caulk and weatherstripping

One other solution is more of a two-step approach: apply new caulk and weatherstripping around the windows. The caulk will need to be applied on the outside, while the weather stripping will be applied on the inside.

On the outside of the window, you will need to remove old caulk, ensuring you reach within any cracks and crevices. Then, clean dirt and dust and make sure the area is dry. From there, you can apply new caulk around the window perimeter. Be sure to follow any instructions. If applied correctly, you'll have a more airtight seal around the exterior.

On the inside, you will want to use new weather stripping around the sash of the window - the parts of the window that open and close. There are many different types of weatherstripping and each comes with its own application instructions. Common weatherstripping types include adhesive-backed foam, tubular rubber-gasket weather stripping, spring v-seal and even felt. Any of these can help keep warmer air inside and colder air outside of your home.

Update your home's windows

Are those winterization tips not going to cut it for your windows? In that case, one solution that can go a long way in helping your windows lose less heat in the winter is to go through an upgrade. This makes sense if the house's windows are generally in good condition but still need a better solution for winterization.

The Department of Energy recommends a few ways to update windows and improve energy efficiency:

  • Check windows for air leaks. If you find any leaks, then there are a variety of methods for sealingthem.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip windows.
  • Put up window treatments and coverings.
  • Install storm windows and panels.

Invest in energy-efficient windows

Energy-efficient windows can reduce the amount of heat that is lost in the winter (and gained in the summer, for that matter). Sometimes, the best solution for preventing energy loss in a home is to replace the windows.

Now, there's a lot that goes into deciding what windows a homeowner should choose, but for this post's purposes, we'll focus on the energy efficiency aspects of that decision.

The first step to take in finding energy-efficient windows is to look for windows with an ENERGY STAR logo. ENERGY STAR is a government-backed symbol that signals a product has been reviewed and determined to be a wise economic and environmental choice. Homeowners who install these windows should see energy savings after they have been installed.

Next, review the windows' ratings on the National Fenestration Rating Council. This will help you find the best window that meets your needs. You can easily learn more about how to better understand these ratings.

Help your furnace do its job

By winterizing your windows, or installing more energy-efficient models, you can help take the burden off your furnace. Since winter means a workout for any furnace, it's important that you take every step necessary to ensure that it is not working too hard, which could mean higher energy bills or costly repair bills down the road.

Is your furnace performing as efficiently as you would like it to this winter? If not, it may be time for a service call. The experienced HVAC technicians at Comfortec would be more than happy to take a look at your furnace, ensure it is working properly and provide any additional tips you can use to get the most out of your equipment.

Contact us to set up a service appointment to get your furnace looked at and get you back on track toward energy - and utility bill - savings. We are also available 24 hours a day for emergency service appointments.

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