Looking to improve the energy efficiency of your windows? Window replacement isn’t always the answer. Some simple cost saving improvements can be made to your existing wood windows to improve their efficiency without replacing the whole window.
There are two basic styles of weatherstripping that come in many shapes and colors, but serve two simple purposes. A bulb type weatherstrip is used to provide the thermal seal between the sash and the window frame. You would typically find this type of weatherstripping along the edge of the frame on a casement window where the sash meets the frame when closed. A bulb is also used on the top and bottom edges of double hung windows where the sash meets the sill and head jamb. The other general style of weatherstripping is called a leaf type seal. You find these typically on the perimeter of a casement sash. The misconception is this serves as a thermal barrier. The leaf seal on a casement is referred to as the storm shield. This is meant to prevent excess wind driven rain, inserts and debris from getting in around the sash. It doesn’t provide any significant thermal value.
By replacing the bulb type on your windows, you can cut down on drafts around the sash. Many windows were supplied with a hollow vinyl bulb that flattens out over time. By simply replacing this with new, it will return the seal to its original performance. For an even better seal, you can upgrade from the hollow bulb to a foam filled bulb that will take up more space in the gap and create a tighter seal between the jamb/sill and the sash.
A common issue with aging windows is seal failure. This is the breakdown of sealant around the perimeter of the glass unit allowing air and moisture to enter in between the panes of glass. The common misconception here is that there is some sort of gas between the panes of glass. This is not the case with most windows older than 10 years or so. The addition of argon or krypton gas is relatively new and still and expensive upgrade. Prior to that, there is simply dead airspace between the panes of glass creating the thermal barrier. A couple things to keep in mind when having glass replaced. Glass is not brand specific. The IGU, or insulated glass unit is a separate, pre-sealed component of the window that can be removed and replaced with any type of glass unit provided it is the same size and thickness. This is your opportunity to upgrade the existing glass to newer technology to increase the energy efficiency of your existing windows. With the evolution of lowE coatings and cool edge spacer technology, you could increase the efficiency of your existing windows by 20-30% without replacing anything but the glass…which had failed and needed to be replaced anyway! Most new glass comes with a warranty too!
When considering upgrading your glass, keep these things in mind. One, upgrading just one piece of glass on a bank of windows won’t do anything. You need to replace all of the glass in a set of windows, and even a step further, all of the glass in the room to see any significant improvement. Also, keep in mind, glass with a lowE coating will have a slight tint compared to basic clear glass. Now its not “tinted”. By itself you wouldn’t call LowE glass tinted, but next to a window with clear glass on a sunny day, you will notice a difference. Avoid this by upgrading glass in windows that are directly side by side. Finally, for the best results, upgrading all of the glass on the south and west exposures of the house is the best way to see and feel an increase in energy efficiency.
If energy efficiency is your primary goal, but your budget isn’t ready for new windows, consider these cost effective window repair ideas to upgrade the windows you have for a fraction of the cost of all new. There’s an old saying, “They just don’t make them like they used to.” This is true in many respects. New window companies push the energy efficiency of their windows. What they don’t tell you is the technology is in the glass, not the rest of the window. Its my humble opinion that a traditional wood window is far more attractive and warm feeling in a home than white plastic. If you had the opportunity to put the same glass technology in your wood window that comes in the new vinyl one, what would you choose?
Visit us at www.fensterUSA.com to order your weatherstripping and sash upgrades today!