Friday, November 1, 2013

Window treatments for winter savings!

Surprisingly, anywhere from “12% to as much 30% of a homes heating bill goes to make up for heat loss through windows”. So, if they are not properly insulted, they can have a major impact on the overall of heating cost of a dwelling over the winter months. But, what can the average homeowner do? Or, should I say, what are some cheap and simple things that can be done to improve the overall thermal envelope of a home? Why treat your windows, of course!

Single versus double paned windows

Most homes in my area have double paned windows. This means that the windows in your home actually consist of two panes of glass with an air space in between. This type of window significantly decreases the amount of heat loss as opposed to the single pane variety. (If your home has single pane windows, then stop right there and get them replaced ASAP! That will cure a lot of what ails your heating bill). To estimate your heating loss via your windows, please check out this site. The formula is pretty simple to us and it will give you a grass roots idea of whether or not you might want to go ahead and apply extra protection against heat loss. I came up with a figure of about $50 per month for my home. (Note that single pane windows have a multiplier effect of over two times the cost of what double pane windows would incur). Wow!

Drapes and blinds

It was somewhat surprising to me just how effective something like a simple set of blinds or drapes can be in helping to prevent heat loss! I've done a few simple experiments that have show a temperature differential of six to ten degrees difference in a window area just by using such simple covering. So, a rule of thumb would be that when cold weather threatens, just make sure to cover the windows! A simple and stupid way to make an improvement – I like that!

Another way to improve the thermal profile of a window are is to simply cover it with a layer of plastic. Companies like 3M sell easy to apply window kits that are inexpensive and really do make a difference! I've used these in the past an plan to do so again this year. With a little bit of practice, you
can do an average sized window in no time at all. And, that extra layer of sealed air space really does work. You'll be able to actually feel it come the next really cold day by simply hold your hand near a protected window versus an unprotected one. Best of all, your 'treatment' will not be noticeable to anyone driving by your home (see picture at right)!

If that's too expensive for you or if you have a really large glass surface to protect, like a sliding glass door, for instance, you can go put and purchase large sheets of plastic very cheaply. I purchased a 3 foot by 50 foot roll of 5 ml plastic sheet from a local hardware store at a cost of only about $8. That plastic and some duck tape are all that you need to form a thermal barrier that can save everyone some major bucks over the course of a long hard winter.