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Window Efficiency

Adam Solko, Inspector

By Adam Solko, Home Inspector and Licensed Radon Professional

Make sure you’re not losing heat (and money!) to leaky windows.

Losing the warm air from your nice and comfortable home to harsh cold winters is an unwanted and expensive reality in the frozen tundra. Windows are a common source of heat loss. According to the US Department of Energy, 30% of energy in a home is lost through the windows. Depending on the style, age and maintenance level of the window some may be less efficient than others.

Modern Efficiency

Modern building science and changes in manufacturing has allowed homes to become more and more efficient.  100 years ago the only option for windows was what is known as a single pane window. These windows were 100% made from wood and often hand-crafted and maintained. Because of the fine craftsmanship and durable materials used to construct them, many of these windows are still installed in homes today.  

Keeping Warm

During the winter, covering your windows with a plastic film can stop some of the air escaping from around the window. Many times it is small holes around the panes of glass and between the window and framing that allow air to pass. The plastic film can reduce a lot of this air flow. Another way to reduce the air loss is by maintaining the window glazing during the warmer months. The glazing is the putty that holds each pane of glass into the window. If the putty was placed prior to the 1970s it is possible that it contains lead and should be handled with care. 

Blackout curtains are also a good source of temperature control and can add a bit of ambiance to the room. They work by providing another barrier against the air escaping to the outside. However, if these curtains are kept closed during the day while the humidity in the house is kept high then condensation can build up on the window and cause damage to the wood of the window. It is recommended that the curtains be open during the day and then closed at night for privacy. 

The last items that can reduce the amount of air that passes through the windows is keeping the storms installed and making sure that the window is locked. Besides adding a layer of security to your home, locking the windows ensures that the seams stay tightly together and don’t allow the passage of air. 

Keep the cold winter breeze outside where it belongs and out of your home by taking some of these steps this winter and save yourself some money along the way. Even just doing one of the suggestions can start to improve the comfort in your house.