When it’s cold outside, you’ve got to keep the cold out there and the warmth in here. Weatherizing your windows is an excellent first step.
Stop the wind from blowing in and around your windows and frames by caulking and weather-stripping. After you’ve cut infiltration around the windows, the main challenge is to increase the insulating value of the window itself while continuing to admit solar radiation.
Here are some suggestions for weatherizing your existing windows in winter.
- Install clear plastic barriers on the inside of windows
Such barriers work by creating an insulating dead-air space inside the window. After caulking, this is the least expensive temporary option to cut window heat loss. Such barriers can cut heat loss by 25 to 40 percent.
- Repair and weatherize exterior storm windows
If you already own storm windows, just replace any broken glass, re-putty loose panes, install them each fall, and seal around the edges with rope caulk.
- Add new exterior or interior storm windows
Storm windows are more expensive than temporary plastic options, but have the advantages of permanence, reusability, and better performance. Storm windows cost about $7.50 to $12.50 per square foot, and can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent, depending on how well they seal around the edges. Exterior storm windows will increase the temperature of the inside window by as much as 30 F on a cold day, keeping you more comfortable.
- Install tight-fitting insulating shades
See Window Quilts
- The biggest news in window technology is low-e films for low-emissivity. These thin metal coatings allow the shortwave radiation of solar energy to pass in, but block most of the long-wave thermal energy tying to get back out.
- Construct insulated pop-in panels or shutters
Rigid insulation can be cut to fit snugly into window openings, and a lightweight, decorative fabric can be glued to the inside. Pop-in panels aren’t ideal, as they require storage whenever you want to look out the window, but they are cheap, simple, and highly effective. They are especially good for windows you wouldn’t mind covering for the duration of the winter. Make sure they fit tightly so moisture doesn’t enter the dead air space and condense on the window.