How Window Insulation Saves You Money
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How Window Insulation Saves You Money

The Best Windows and Insulation to Save Money on Energy Costs
Mar 22, 2021

Windows play a large role in making your home enjoyable to live in. They bring in natural light and contribute to making spaces seem larger. However, they can also be a big source of energy waste in a home. Older windows typically are only single-pane, which have virtually no insulation value. This means that air can leak out through your windows. Heat that you pay for can escape to the outside in the winter. In summer, heat coming in from outside can negate the efforts of your air conditioner to keep your home cool.

How Does Poor Window Insulation Cost Money?

Homeowners pay for energy in their homes. They pay for running the heat as well as the air conditioner. If windows aren’t properly insulated and heat escapes through them (or enters through them), the heater or the air conditioner has to work extra hard to keep the house warm or cool. This drives up the costs of energy.

In reverse, windows with good insulation save homeowners money. They keep the heat inside in winter and outside in summer, so your heating and cooling systems aren’t working so hard to keep your home at an appropriate temperature. Your energy costs will thus be lower. In addition, the heating and cooling systems may last longer if they don’t have to work as hard, putting off the cost of replacement.

How Can I Check My Window Insulation?

There’s an easy way to tell if your windows are already insulated. On a cold day, place your hand against the window. If the glass feels cold, then your home is losing heat through the glass.

How Can I Check for Air Leaks?

Air leakage is can also be a cause of energy loss in a home. It’s a bit trickier to check for actual leaks in the window. You can do this by either hiring a professional to find the leak for you or you can do it yourself at home. To do it yourself, wait for a windy day. Then, take a stick of incense and move it around near the window. If there’s a spot where the smoke moves, then that’s a potential leak.

Leaks are more common on the exterior of the window. The caulk on the exterior of the window frame dries out over time, especially if it gets a lot of exposure to the sun.

What Types of Windows Have the Best Insulation?

To improve the insulation your windows provide, the best option is to replace old or single-paned windows with newer, more energy-efficient ones.

Window frames

Double-Paned Windows

Double-paned windows offer better insulation than single-paned windows. Newer windows are more often double-paned than single-paned. Double-paned windows work to help insulate your home because there are two panes of glass with a layer of air in between. This gap between the two panes helps prevent the transfer of heat from the internal glass pane to the external one and therefore to the outside. However, even double-paned windows aren’t necessarily the best at insulating your home.

Energy Star Windows

Energy Star is a symbol backed by the U.S. government that indicates windows and other products are energy-efficient. If you’re looking for the best-insulated windows, look for the Energy Star rating. Windows carrying an Energy Star rating are manufactured only by specific Energy Star partner companies. They’re also inspected and tested by the National Fenestration Rating Council, or NFRC, which certifies and verifies qualifying windows as Energy Star-rated.

The NFRC has very strict guidelines that are set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), so you can trust that Energy Star windows are energy-efficient. However, you’ll need to make sure you choose windows that are rated for your area. Energy Star ratings are based on a window’s energy-efficiency in a specific region of the country. Windows rated for the north aren’t necessarily appropriate for southern states and vice versa.

How Can I Insulate My Own Windows?

The best option for insulating your windows, both for energy efficiency and saving you money, is to replace any uninsulated or older windows with new, energy-efficient windows. However, that may not be in the budget. There are methods you can use to insulate your windows yourself to help keep heat either in or out.

Window seal

Window Seals

Window seals are strips that fill any gaps around the edges of your windows. They can be made of vinyl, silicone, or foam and are either self-adhesive or will need to be nailed down. The easiest kind for homeowners who want to DIY window seals is the self-adhesive kind.

Window Film

Another option is window film. Window film clings to the window and adds an extra layer of protection against the cold (or heat). It comes in varying levels of thickness. In order to install it yourself, measure your windows and cut the film to the appropriate size. Then, make sure to thoroughly clean your window before adhering the film to the window.

Rope Caulk

Rope caulk is a putty that doesn’t harden. It is sold in rolls and you can cut it to the right size before pressing it into place along the edges of your window. It’s also easily removable, so if you need it in winter, but not summer, you can take it out again. It’s also reusable, so you can save it and use it again as needed.

Temporary Hacks

If you’re in need of a quick insulation solution and are short on money and/or time, there are a few quick fixes you could try until you’re able to implement a better solution. The first option is bubble wrap. Wet the bubble wrap so that it will stick better to the window and make sure the side with the bubbles is against the window. You’ll need to tape it down. The second choice is any kind of thin plastic, such as plastic bags. You’ll want to make sure that the plastic is transparent, or the light won’t be able to easily shine through the window.