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    Improve Window Energy Efficiency | Winter 2012 Out Here Magazine

    These inexpensive steps can help lower your heating and cooling bills

    putting weatherstipping on the bottom of a window
    For the best window insulation, use high-quality weatherstripping that is securely attached.
    Out Here

    By the Cooperative Extension System

    Photography by iStock

    If yours is one of the many U.S. homes that have single-glazed windows — meaning they consist of one layer of glass — your heating and cooling bill probably proves that they are not as energy-efficient as double-glazed windows.

    But adding new windows can be expensive, so it might be worth exploring some lower-cost options for improving the efficiency of your existing windows both now, when you want to keep cold out, and in warm weather, when you want to keep it in.

    WEATHERSTRIP

    Replace or repair weatherstripping on all moving parts of the window and use high-quality weatherstripping that is securely attached.

    CAULK

    Caulk between the frame's edge and the siding on the home's exterior, and between the frame's edge and the interior walls for spaces of about one-fourth inch or less. For spaces wider than one-fourth inch, use rigid insulation, rope caulk, or backer rod to fill the gaps, and then caulk.

    Do not caulk the window weep holes shut on the exterior, because they provide a path for moisture produced from condensation and water leaks to escape.

    MANAGE WINDOW TREATMENTS

    In cold weather, close curtains and shades at night, and open them during the day when the sun is shining into the space, especially on south-facing windows to take advantage of solar heat.

    During the day in warm weather, close window treatments to keep out the solar heat. Close curtains on eastand west-facing windows (and south-facing windows that do not have adequate overhangs and shade).

    Use lined drapes, cornices, and insulated-type window coverings, or place a liner on a separate rod behind the window treatment.

    Exterior window shading such as trees, awnings, and exterior shades is more efficient than indoor shading. Awnings can be installed on the east- and west-facing windows. Roll-up exterior shades in metal and fabric are also available.

    Install white or light-colored window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house in hot weather.

    Exterior window shading such as trees, awnings, and exterior shades is more efficient than indoor shading. Awnings can be installed on the east- and west-facing windows. Roll-up exterior shades in metal and fabric are also available.

    ADD STORM WINDOWS

    Install storm windows, which can reduce the typical heat loss through the window by about 25-50 percent. Carefully measure the windows and shop for used storm windows at restoration, salvage, and second-hand businesses.

    Avoid pre-1978 windows that might have lead paint.

    ADD PLASTIC OR SOLAR FILM

    Install a flexible, durable, plastic over the window exterior or interior. Some films are attached to window frames and have heat-shrink capabilities. These types of films generally are used to add another layer that creates an air pocket to reduce the transfer of cool air and heat loss. Typically, they are easily damaged, and not meant to last more than one season.

    Install solar film directly on single-pane glass to reduce heat gain. This is more useful in hot climates with long cooling seasons. Solar films may be tints, which reduce the light entering the home. Transparent films reduce solar radiation while allowing light to enter.

    Some window films are Low-emissity, or Low-e. Low-e spectrally selective glazings screen out or reflect heat-generating ultraviolet and infrared radiation from the sun, while allowing light to come in.

    The very thin, Low-e coating is on the film applied directly to the glass. They reduce heat transfer through radiation. The films block a certain percentage of heat passing through the window in the summer to reduce cooling bills.

    In the winter, they reflect heat back into a home. These films can be installed by the consumer or by a professional. Be careful to not scratch the film when cleaning.

     

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