Winter brings frigid temperatures, freezing winds and severe storms that cause heating costs to rise. However, if you’re not careful, that expensive, heated air may be escaping through your windows.
According to a report by Energy.gov, windows account for up to 30 percent of a home's heating loss. Drafts of cold air can creep into your house through cracks around your windows—and those drafts are only exacerbated during storms with high winds. Prep your windows ahead of time to prevent heat loss when the cold weather hits. Here are five tips to help you get started.
Replace any cracked or broken window glass as soon as possible. Check your window sills for any rotting or damaged wood and repair it as needed. Don’t forget to inspect the caulking around your windows—if it’s cracked or missing in places, you’ll need to re-caulk. (Be sure to remove all of the old caulking before you start.) Choose a dry, sunny day to complete this task, as the new caulk will need low humidity and temperatures above 45 degrees to cure properly.
2. Apply Weather Stripping
Weather stripping increases your windows’ protection against wind, snow and ice. Choose vinyl weather stripping for the most moisture resistance, or opt for metal varieties that you can reuse year after year. In a pinch, felt and open-cell foam varieties will work. They’re inexpensive and easy to install, but they don’t stand up to inclement weather conditions for long. Add weather stripping between the window sash and frame so that it won't interfere with the operation of the window. Make sure all surfaces are clean and dry before applying.
3. Pick Up Window Film
Window film is a thin layer of plastic film that absorbs radiant heat from inside the home and keeps that heat from escaping through the windows. It’s inexpensive, easy to apply and instantly boosts your windows’ insulating abilities. As a bonus, you can leave it on your windows year-round. During the summer months, it will reduce heat gain and keep your rooms cool.
4. Purchase Low-E Storm Windows
Low-emissivity (low-e) storm windows help homeowners save between 12 percent and 33 percent on heating and cooling costs. Unlike standard storm windows, low-e varieties feature an ultra-thin layer of metal that reflects heat back into a home. Low-e storm windows are available in two forms: as an interior panel that sits inside the existing window opening or an exterior attachment that covers the window from the outside. Be sure to check your community's governing documents to verify if you need approval for an exterior attachment.
5. Install Energy-Efficient Window Shades
Cellular shades (also known as honeycomb shades) are some of the most energy-efficient window treatments on the market. They feature a series of cellular pockets that trap air, adding an extra layer of protection against the cold. For the best results, opt for custom-fit shades that sit snugly against the window frames. Keep the shades open during sunnier days to heat your home naturally and prevent ice buildup on your windows. Most cellular shades are available in a variety of colors and fabrics, so it’s easy to match them to your existing décor.
Winter storms can be problematic, particularly for homeowners who want to keep their heating bills as low as possible. With these tips, you can prep your windows against the freezing weather that winter storms bring.