When it comes to natural light and being able to see what is happening outside, windows would be hard to live without. When it comes to energy efficiency and energy conservation, windows are often a thermal flaw, a weak spot in the insulation system of a wall.
One of the most cost-effective ways to increase the insulation value of a window is to install a see through covering over the window. I was in a drug store the other day and, to my surprise, ran into a display selling plastic shrink-wrap window covers. Kind of like aspirin for a window, medicine to help with the aches and “panes.” The plastic window cover captures a bunch of air between the plastic and the window glass that serves as an insulation layer. The Plastic is also great for stopping air leaks.
New types of windows have R-values up to R-8, but most windows are between R-1 and R-4. A window with a single pane of glass has a R-1 insulation value. A double pane window with low-e glazing and argon has an insulation value of about R-3.5. In comparison, a modern wall has much better insulation - about R-25.
Remember the ads on TV about the wonderful storm windows from the store with the really thick catalog? They would handle the whole thing, from measuring to installation. Call the number on the screen for your energy saving storm windows today.
Over the years, I have seen a variety of storm windows. Some are installed on the inside of the window and some are installed on the outside. The more expensive storm windows were permanately mounted and would open and close just like the window they were covering. Others were mounted with twist screws, put them on in winter and take them off in summer.
I’m not sure if you can find storm windows today. With the availability of the new vinyl, double pane windows, storm windows have gone the way of the Oldsmobile. Anybody know if you can still get storm windows made-to-fit?
Real glass storm windows maybe a thing of the past, but the plastic ones that you buy in a kit and cut-to-fit have gotten better. I like the one with the plastic snap bead you install around the inside of the window casing and then snap the plastic into the bead. It’s a do-it-yourself project that is very effective at increasing the insulation value of a window.
Windows affect comfort more directly than other building components because of their low thermal resistance and high solar transmittance. This means that the window has a lower R-value which allows heat to escape and the ability to let the suns radiation in which heats the house up.
During winter, windows cool the body down by sucking the heat right out of us. Remember, air moves from hot to cold - so our heat radiates toward a cool window. Also, cold window glass cools the air next to the window and causes that air to fall towards the floor. At the floor, it warms and rises towards the ceiling where it cools down a little and falls, right pass the cool window to the floor again.
This is called a convection loop and is a major reason why you don’t feel warm sitting next to the large picture window to read the paper. Not only is the air cooler, but it is moving too.
Insulated drapes are an effective way to reduce the cool feeling from convection loops and the problem associated with radiating heat from an unsuspecting body. Insulating drapes are also successful at stopping the unwanted solar rays during a hot summers day.
The drapes are often constructed from several layers of tightly knit fabric. Using a variety of clips, magnets, plastic beads, or Velcro straps, the curtains are held snugly to the window casing for a tight fit. When desired, the curtain can be unzipped and opened to let the light in or to see what the dog is barking at.
With insulated drapes, a good program is open during the day and closed at night. I think your neighborhood department store is more apt to carry insulated drapes these days than storm windows.
Sitting up on a hill near most towns, you can see the newer homes with the vaulted ceilings and the tall picture windows looking down over the valley. A whole wall of windows standing erect like a granite rock in Yosemite. As I look up from the valley floor, I try to see the people running around inside and I wonder, how do they close the drapes on those high irregular shaped windows to keep the midday sun from cooking everything insight?
After having the opportunity to visit some of those homes, I have discovered that midday cooking is real and drapes is not the answer.
In the last 10 years or so, window film applications have made huge strides to meet the increasing market. Window film designed to reduce the undesirable effects of the sun comes in a wide variety of shades and solar control. Like a good pair of overly expensive sun glasses, window film can reduce the transmittance of harmful rays, like the ones that turn your carpet a different color, and the Film can reduce the suns heat radiation to reduce solar heat gain.
Behind the tall wall of windows, window film allows the light in, but keeps a lot of the heat out. By choosing a lighter shade of film, the people in the house can still spy on the valley and the Valley people can still try to see the people.
Windows are a very important part of any house. They are also, too often, an important part of an inefficient house. Replacing windows is not always a cost-effective measure if you are just talking about dollars and cents, but they are almost always a comfort-effective measure. If your not ready to replace an older window with a new double pane window, there is still plenty you can do that will increase the energy efficiency and comfort of your home.
Thank you for stopping by Detect Energy, hope to see you again real soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you...