Window Insulation: Facts, Pros and Cons

If you shy away from your windows during the cold winter months, get frustrated by the drafty situation of your home, hope to cut down on fabrics near windows, or simply want to upgrade windows, then we might be able to help you with a few solutions. Window insulation is a vast subject, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it in this article.

What Is Window Insulation?

While it can take many forms, window insulation can reduce and even eliminate the heat transfer from one side of the window to the other (from inside to outside). This means that not only will the warm air stay inside – saving you money on your heating bills – but also that cold air will stay outside.

There are multiple ways you can fix a drafty house, ranging from less expensive to luxurious. Installing double- or multi-pane windows, window films, or storm windows – all of these solutions have their pros and cons. We are going to discuss them next, letting you decide which works best for you.

PROS: Double-pane Windows

  • Double-pane windows will save you money. A clear glass, double-paned wood-framed window can reduce energy usage by up to 24 percent in cold climates during the winter when compared to their older, single-pane counterparts. You can expect energy savings to go up as high as 50 percent if you choose to install top of the line window models. (We’ll talk about the costs a bit later.)
  • Double-pane windows are eco-friendly. Reduced energy use is not just for your own benefit (a.k.a. saving money); it also means you’re creating fewer greenhouse gas emissions and burning less precious fossil fuel.
  • Double-pane windows reduce noise pollution. These windows will significantly insulate your home from outdoor noise. You should consider double-pane windows if you live in a busy urban area.

CONS: Double-pane Windows

It’s hard to find reasons you shouldn’t consider energy-efficient windows, but here are some issues that might deter you from installing them:

  • More expensive than single-pane windows. Even though they might pay for themselves in time, they won’t be a cost-effective investment if you don’t properly insulate or seal other areas of the home where heat escapes.
  • Quality matters. Poor window quality and improper installation can reduce – or even cancel out – the energy savings you are aiming to achieve. Failed seals, improperly spaced glass, manufacturing defects: All of these will not only fail to save you energy, but will also lead to further issues, such as condensation.
  • Can’t buy just one. Forget about energy savings if you’re thinking of replacing individual windows. With double-pane windows you must upgrade the entire house or at least the entire floor. The desired energy savings come with purchasing many windows at a time.
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Tinted window film / Source

PROS: Window Film

Window film is a thin film or laminate that can be installed to the interior of glass surfaces in your home for insulation purposes. It is usually made from polyester due to its clarity. Window film kits are available for purchase at low costs.

  • Window film can cut heating costs between 30 percent and 40 percent. Due to the fact that is so cheap ($6 to $14 per square foot), insulation your house with window film will prove much cheaper than completely replacing drafty windows.
  • Solar window films block UV light. Why would you care about UV rays inside the home? Because it fades furniture over time and that’s not something you want. The latest technologies allow window films to protect against UV light without looking reflective or dark.
  • Films add security. Should the window shatter – during a break in, for example – the window film can hold together the shards.
  • Even though it’s usually used as a retrofit product, quality window films can significantly increase the efficiency of a low-cost window.

CONS: Window Film

  • Difficult to install. Given the particulars of each window, various latches, lites, and frames might make it difficult to install the window film. Keep in mind that a bad application will leave glass looking bubbly and unclear.
  • Films could void the window’s warranty. Indeed, this applies only to some window manufacturers. This con can be canceled out by using a film manufacturer that offers to match the warranty.
  • Homeowners need to be educated about the benefits. The current skepticism regarding the efficiency of window films makes film a hard sell.
  • Some film brands are better than others. This is not necessarily a con but a heads-up for potential buyers, who are encouraged to look for NFRC warranty.

PROS: Storm Windows

Storm windows are another form of window insulation. They are installed on top of your windows, adding a layer of insulation against drafty issues.

  • They work for both external and internal walls, depending on your needs.
  • A storm window kit is an inexpensive solution to an immediate problem that needs an urgent solution.
  • If installed correctly, outside storm windows can have the same performance capacity as an internal storm window.
  • Storm windows have multiple functions: acoustic dampening and UV filtering, on top of the standard features of a storm window (protection against bad weather and cold).

CONS: Storm Windows

  • While they perform great as a temporary solution, storm windows are usually not designed to last more than a season or two.
  • Storm windows can become compromised. If there is a lot of activity in your house – pets or children – the plastic and seal can wear down through repeat contact. That compromises the intended purpose of the storm window.
  • Installing storm windows can be a bit clumsy. However, many of the latest technologies offer friendlier installation designs. At the same time, you can always opt for a storm window kit to help you set it up.
  • You will have to dismount winter storm windows during spring or summer (depending on the climate). Why? So that natural air can flow through the windows for proper refreshing of the house.

This might sound like a lot of information to take in, but now you have the basic knowledge under your belt. There are many pros and cons to window insulation that you must take into consideration, but in the end, you do what’s best for your situation. Just make sure you make a wise investment in quality products.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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