Storm Windows for Comfort and Energy Efficiency
Various sources place the median age of homes in the U.S. at 37 years. As median age means half are older, there are a lot of homes out there with inefficient windows or leaking windows and frames. One solution is replacement of the complete window with a new high efficiency one, but that is prohibitively expensive in many cases.
A more affordable option for homeowners is one of the various types of storm windows. They can be externally or internally installed and have different types of glass and tracks to fit your needs. Storm windows can cut energy costs as well as increase your comfort in the home. Usually, the homeowner has already tried weather stripping or caulking and still isn’t satisfied with the results.
Basic Storm Window Choices
When your home has single pane windows, one way to increase efficiency and make your home more comfortable is to add storm windows. These effectively convert your windows to double-pane without full replacement. These windows have tighter air-sealing characteristics and they:
They can protect main windows from weather damage
Reduce heat transfer in and out
The more extreme the seasonal temperature extremes in your area, the more beneficial storm windows become.
Exterior Storm Windows
These windows install outside over the existing window frames. They are framed with wood, aluminum, or vinyl. In choosing the frame material, consider that aluminum heats up with solar exposure. Wood looks better on older homes, but it requires more care and expands and contracts in weather extremes. Vinyl is better for sunlight resistance, but it can warp or crack in very extreme temperatures.
Interior Storm Windows
Interior storm windows are easier to install and can be removed temporarily if desired. They are lightweight and less expensive than exterior storm windows. They may or may not have frames. Some use magnets for fast installation and removal while others use compression-fitting. Quality installation can result in energy savings and greater comfort at a lower cost than their exterior counterparts.
How Much Can You Save with Storm Windows?
How much you can save in utility costs and increase your interior comfort varies widely based on several factors:
The size of your home
Current window condition and fit
HVAC system size and condition
Your local climate and temperature extremes
How well your home is sealed when considering doors and other areas like the roof
A professional can help with these calculations to determine the payback period for different storm window types and installations.
Examples at EnergyStar.gov for a 2,000 square foot home estimate that storm window installation over single pane windows can save on average more than $450/year. Payback would depend on the number of windows in your home and the local climate, as well as the type of storm windows you choose for your home.
Overall, there are millions of homes in the U.S. that would benefit from storm window installation, saving homeowners significant amounts of money to heat and cool their residences.