6 ways to insulate old windows (if new ones are not on budget)

Stop us if this sounds familiar to you: your thermostat has hiked to 74 degrees, you’re covered in blankets, you’ve got your fuzzy socks on – and your house still feels cold to the touch.

The likely culprit: drafty windows. Whether they’re dirty or not energy efficient, windows that let cold air in will not only lower the temperature of your home but also increase your heating bills as your stove will work overtime.

First, take the temperature of your windows

Do you even have drafty windows? Before you get busy sealing cracks, find out how cold it is near the window. If you own one of the infrared thermometers that we became so familiar with during the coronavirus pandemic, you might be able to take a decent temperature reading and notice cold air seeping in from old windows.

“These instruments detect what the eye can’t see, and that could be the radiant heat around the object,” he says Matt Swann, General Contractor and President of Brawn Construction. “They can also help identify air leaks by measuring the ambient temperature in an area where cold air is entering.”

You can also look for any visible cracks and gaps around the window frame or try the old school trick of closing your window on a dollar bill. If you can easily pull the bill out, you have drafty windows.

If your bank account is a little thin these days, replacement windows are probably out of the question. So you have two options: you can keep wearing socks and sweaters, or make your windows much more energy efficient by trying these tips from the pros.

1. Seal carefully

Caulking is useful for sealing cracks, gaps, and joints less than a quarter inch. Keep bitter drafts out inside by sealing between the inner window trim and the wall. You can also seal the outside perimeter of the window. Just be careful not to seal any tear holes, the small rectangular holes on the bottom of the outside of the window frame.

“Caulking through tear holes is a big mistake,” he warns Kevin Busch, Vice President of Operations at Mr. Handyman, a neighboring company. “Wine holes allow moisture to escape from the window frame. Clogged tear holes can’t do their job properly, and your windows can rot, collect mold or rust.”

Also, avoid sealing the moving parts of the window and the edge over the window frame, says Busch. Click here for full instructions and tips on applying sealant.

Note that the sealing duct is massive. Be sure to read the labels and purchase sealant that is specifically labeled for windows. Be sure to seal the outside around the window and the inside inside. There are also seals for damp rooms and masonry.

2. Sealing strips for a temporary repair

When it comes to winter home maintenance, weatherstrip is an inexpensive and effective way to avoid bone-chilling drafts. Unlike caulking, which takes around five years, the sealing strip is easy to apply and remove. It is available in different materials and thicknesses and is also used for doors. Foam weatherstrip is great for the top and bottom of window sashes, and the pull seal (or the V-strip) is ideal for the side of sash windows and double-hanging windows.

The trick is to seal the gap without putting it on too thick. Apply sealing tape to the sash and frame. Make sure you can still open and close the windows with the weatherstrip open. More information on choosing the right weather strip and instructions can be found here.

3. Seal your windows with plastic

Perhaps the idea of ​​covering your window with shrink wrap seems a little tacky, but when done right it provides an airtight seal and is virtually invisible. Not only will this help your home feel warmer, but it will also reduce moisture build-up on the window due to condensation.

It’s an easy DIY project, especially if you have a partner to help out with larger windows. In short, you secure the shrink plastic by placing an adhesive strip around the perimeter of the window on the window frame. This prevents air leaks from potentially sneaking through. Once the plastic is in place, use a hair dryer to shrink the gasket and pull tight to get a snug fit.

Be sure to measure your windows before you go to the store as the kits come in many sizes. Click here to learn more about it. However, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the box kit.

4. Hang up the heat protection curtains

Thermal curtains today are more elegant than the drab ones our parents had, and according to the EPA, dragging thermal curtains over your windows can reduce heat loss by about 25%.

If you still feel cold, install a cornice on top of the curtains. Then make sure the curtains overlap in the middle to better block those bitter drafts. Then secure the sides of the curtains to the wall and floor with Velcro or magnetic tape. An interior designer might disagree, but it’s a good option, especially for windows that don’t let in warm sunshine during the day.

5. Install cellular screens

You can reduce heat loss during installation by up to 40% Cell shades (also known as honeycomb colors), according to the EPA. They can be expensive, but according to Swann, they are considered one of the best ways to insulate your windows.

“They significantly reduce the temperature that is transferred between the window and the room by creating a barrier with their hexagonal pocket shapes,” says Swann.

The price ranges from $ 30 to $ 200 depending on the size of your window and if you want a more luxurious version. When you fight COVID-19 cabin fever or just want to connect with the outside world, you might want to jump for that from top to bottom from bottom to top Diversity.

6. Install storm window inserts

Storm window inserts are see-through inserts that look like traditional windows, but are installed in the window mullions and over older single pane windows to reduce heat loss. They are light and easy to install and do not require nails or screws. Just click them into place and your rooms will feel significantly warmer in winter. Once the weather warms up, take them out and store them.

Depending on the size, they cost around $ 200 per window. This is still a good alternative when new energy efficient windows are not on the budget. Look for Energy Star Certified (Low-E) inserts and you could save $ 350 on your annual heating bill, according to the EPA.

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