Go Green! What Is a Storm Window?

Are you looking for more energy-efficient windows? Avoid the hassle and insane cost of replacing your windows and add storm windows instead.

What is a storm window? It’s a window that can save you money and energy. You attach it to your existing windows — so no need for a big, messy project. Read on to learn why storm windows will help make your house more livable and your utility bills lighter!

What Is a Storm Window?

Storm windows fit on top of the existing windows that you have in your home. That’s right, you’re not physically removing your normal windows — you’re adding an extra barrier on the inside or outside (you don’t need to do both).

Most traditional windows consist of a single pane of glass, so with a storm window, you’re building a thicker wall between you and the outside world. This can help in a number of ways.

If you’ve noticed a cold draft hitting you in the winter months and feel like you’re always reaching for a heavy blanket, a storm window can create better insulation. If you feel like your air conditioner is not working well, it could be that your single-pane windows are leaking out cool air.

In either case, a storm window will seal out the winter air or summer humidity, and keep the cool air or heat in.

Storm windows can help with soundproofing, too. If your neighbor likes to mow his lawn early on Saturday mornings, a storm window can soften the exterior noise — letting you catch a little more shuteye!

Exterior Storm Windows

Storm windows come as either interior or exterior windows. Most windows come in thicknesses of 1/8 to 1/4″ and a variety of styles, so your aesthetic and functionality preferences will determine which one is right for you. First, let’s take a look at exterior storm windows.

Exterior storm windows are visible to the outside, so your house may look a little different (especially if you have a lot of windows on the front). They are made of glass and their frames tend to be metal, plastic, vinyl, aluminum, or wood. You do want to weigh your options with the frames.

Wood frames will change depending on the humidity and may fade from the sun. All of this means that they require a little more maintenance. Vinyl frames also have their drawbacks: fading in the sun, and a better chance of losing their shape.

As you can imagine, exterior storm windows must be attached to the existing window more securely since they will face rain, wind, sleet, or snow. Caulking or screws are common forms of attachment.

The beauty of newer exterior windows is that they can be opened and closed with ease. Most function using a track system, so if you want to let in some crisp fall air in early October, it’s easy to do. You can slide one half of the window out of the way so that only a screen separates your home’s interior from fresh air.

Interior Storm Windows

Interior storm windows are attached to the inside of your window using anything from a track system to adhesive or magnets — or compression seal. They’re the easier and less permanent choice of the two types of storm windows.

The interior storm window may be made of glass or acrylic, and it can conform to any size of a window opening. Some window experts believe that acrylic is the superior choice because it can add more soundproofing than glass. The frames are usually made of plastic or metal foam.

Whether interior or exterior, most storm windows are available in a variety of colors – anything from neutrals to more striking options — to ensure that the window blends in well with its surroundings.

Do your research on removability, too — while most storm windows can be detached, not all of them can. Be sure you know what you’re buying!

Helping the Environment One Window at a Time

A big selling point of storm windows is that they will save you money. One study suggests that storm windows can cut your heating and cooling costs by around 20%. That will allow you to spend money on other home improvements!

Another benefit? Storm windows can contribute to a better environment. With cool air seeping out of your home in the summer or frigid air seeping in during the winter, there’s a good chance you’re cranking up the air conditioner or furnace. This means you’re creating more greenhouse gas emissions, which is bad for the environment.

By adding the extra barrier of storm windows, you’ll cut back on the number of times you visit the thermostat to make an adjustment. And you’ll reduce your greenhouse gas footprint, which is better for the planet.

Some storm windows are designed to be extra efficient. Energy Star certified storm windows have to meet certain guidelines that ensure they are energy efficient. The coating on these windows also offers UV protection to help keep out rays that may damage the colors of your carpet, furniture, or artwork.

Are you still asking, should I get storm windows? If the prospect of saving both money and the planet hasn’t convinced you that these windows offer strong value, you can conduct a little investigation in your own home.

One step you can take is to have an energy assessment done of your home. A certified professional will visit your home and determine areas where you are not being energy efficient using sensing equipment. For the thriftier homeowner, there are resources online so that you can do some elements of the audit yourself.

Typical American homes are using 10% more energy than they did in the 1970s, so there’s a good chance you’re a prime candidate for storm windows!

Installing Storm Windows

If you’re handy (or live with someone who is!), you might be able to install storm windows yourself and save on installation costs, which can be around $50 or more per window.

If you’re not the DIY type, don’t pretend to be with exterior storm windows. To install these, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a lot of time on a ladder, so do a gut check and be honest with yourself — there’s no shame in hiring someone to do the job.

Even though storm windows are cheaper than normal windows, they still represent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in home improvements. You want to do the job right. Not doing the job right means that the windows may fall out in bad weather or continue to let in the drafty winter air.

For the DIYer, there are many online tutorials that can guide you through the process. To install exterior windows, you’ll need screws and a caulking gun (and probably a ladder). Also, be aware that these windows will require more yearly maintenance than the interior variety.

Hiring a professional is the best solution if you have any concerns about installation. Think of storm windows as a one-time investment that will pay off in your utility bills going forward.

The Big Storm Window Benefits

Price, ease of installation, energy savings, environmental impact, and personal comfort are the top reasons to seek out storm windows. You want to feel comfortable when a blizzard or heat wave passes through, and these windows can be a difference-maker.

Your first thought might be that you need to overhaul everything with new windows in your house. But storm windows are a better solution. The cost of a new window in a typical American home can reach $700 or more, while a storm window is around $100. The basic math suggests that storm windows are generally the much cheaper option.

And it’s not just people with cold winters or hot summers who benefit from storm windows. For people living in climates prone to hurricanes and other violent summer weather, having strong windows is critical. If a tree or other debris launches at your home during a hurricane, you want your windows to withstand the impact!

The correct window installation can mean the difference between shattered glass and fully-intact windows in places like Florida. With hurricane impact window installation, you’ll get the same energy-saving magic of normal storm windows but with the added security of specially-formulated glass that will stand up to hurricane season.

The Big Takeaway

So, what is a storm window? It’s the less expensive solution to fixing a drafty house or keeping cool air inside. You want to feel comfortable in your home, so it’s worth a little time and money to make sure that you are.

When in doubt, ask a professional so that you find the right windows for your home. Looking for other tricks or ideas to keep your home in good working order? Check back with us to learn more lifestyle tips!

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