Few homeowners would ever argue with a chance to lower their energy usage. Unfortunately, many don't know one of the main issues that cause high energy bills — poorly maintained windows.
In fact, windows just are not on most people's radar when it comes to energy efficiency. Most homeowners look for ways to use their appliances and HVAC equipment less. However, sealing air leaks and insulating against heat transfer are two very effective ways to make your windows more energy efficient.
Air leaks occur for a few different reasons. It might be that the windows were not installed properly in the first place. More likely, the natural shifts and settling of the house broke the caulk seal and caused gaps between the window frame and the wall.
Heat transfer has an even simpler explanation: glass conducts heat rather than stopping it.
Ways to Stop Air Leaks Around Your Windows
To find air leaks, use the incense trick:
- On a windy day, shut off your fans and other HVAC equipment.
- Light an incense stick and move it slowly around the frame and near the sash of each of your windows.
- If air is leaking in or out, you'll see the incense smoke move in reaction.
- Use caulk around the frame and weatherstripping along the sashes to block your leaks.
Another option is to install storm windows. No matter which of the many options you choose, you should find that your windows leak significantly less. The only caveat is you must be sure your storm windows form a seal to your existing windows. They must also be hung square, and exterior storm windows need to have drainage holes left at the bottom to eliminate condensation.
Ways to Insulate Your Windows
While you can't insulate your windows directly, you can provide an insulating effect with drapes or other window treatments. Another option is to replace your old windows with double- or triple-paned windows. The air trapped between the layers of glass provide an insulating effect.
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