Keeping Out the Cold
By Jim Sulski
Summary:Cold air can leak through old and improperly sealed windows, costing you warmth and money. Here are some alternatives to replacing your windows that will save you money and still keep out the cold.
There's nothing more frustrating on a cold winter's day than a leaky window that allows cold air to get into a room.
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One option for homeowners is to replace the windows with new dual-pane energy efficient windows. But that's an expensive option, one that could costs thousands of dollars. There's other ways to warm up your windows.
Let's start with the least expensive option for increasing a window's efficiency and work up from there.
For example, you can purchase a window sealing kit from just about any home improvement store. For around a few dollars or less per window, you can effectively seal the window from cold air infiltration.
These kits usually consist of a sheet of thin plastic that you stick to the window and then tighten by using the heat of a hair dryer. That creates a dead air space between the window and the plastic that serves as insulation, much like the dead air space between a new double-pane window does.
The upside: sealing kits are cheap, quick and simple to install, and fairly effective as far as shaving dollars off your energy bill.
The downside: they're unattractive, and are easy to damage if someone leans into them. And you can't use the window on a warm day once it's sealed.
You can also keep existing windows warmer with heavy drapes, ones that you can close on cold winter nights.
The next step is covering the existing single-pane windows with the low-E (or emissivity) window film you mentioned. What this film does is slow down the transfer of radiation - the warm air in your home - from the glass to the cold atmosphere outside.
The upside: While it costs more than the kits - around $10 or less per window - it's a long-term solution. So after a couple of years or so, the film makes much more sense economically and pays for itself in energy savings. The clear film is also invisible.
The downside: the film is hard to find and somewhat tricky to install. It usually comes in rolls of 15 feet and needs to be cut for each window.
The next step is installing window channel kits that replace the old weights and chains in your windows with vinyl and aluminum channels that double as weather-stripping.
The upside: they cost about $20 per window and are permanent like the film. The downside is the existing windows need to be disassembled and possibly modified or shaved down for the kits to work.
Next, you can replace the single-pane sashes with new dual-pane sashes but that will probably costs several hundred dollars per window including labor.
The downside is the cost. In fact, it may cost slightly more or even less to replace the entire window because of labor costs. In addition, it will take years to recoup your investment as far as energy savings.
On the other hand, the new windows will add to the resale value of your home.
© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved.
July 20, 2005.
NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate,
PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted,
resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.
© 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.