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Increase Energy Efficiency with Your Windows

Windows are one the key features to any home.  They add light, ventilation, character, and so much more.  Unfortunately, they can also detract from your home’s energy efficiency, especially in older houses.  Those drafty spots can cost a lot in extra heating expenses during these cold winter months, but replacing all of your windows can be even more expensive.  Whether or not you have this project in your budget, there are ways you can make your home more energy efficient.

If you want to keep your current windows…

You can add to their existing frames and prevent air leakage.  Storm windows are a great feature typically seen in older homes that are easier to replace than full windows.  They provide an extra layer of glass between your space and the outside world.  Since they sit inside the window, you can also save money on materials by choosing a vinyl as opposed to getting a custom-made wood model that matches the original window frame.

You can also add sealants, such as caulk or weather-stripping to further prevent unwanted air from coming into your house.  Caulk is best used for small cracks, joints, or gaps.  While weather-stripping is more practical for the pieces that you still need to be able to move around windows and doors.  Remember, though, these solutions are only designed to be temporary.  So, you’ll need to redo these precautions or budget for replacements sometime in your future.

The most stylish way to add comfort and stop excess air is with window treatments!  Blinds, curtains, and draperies of the insulating variety can be a great resource during winter.  Be sure you pick sturdier varieties that can actually block wind and save the gauzy fabrics for summer.

If you want to upgrade to new windows…

Make sure you’re picking a good quality!  Overall, replacements should last years, so you should also like whichever options you choose.  Wood remains a popular framing material because of its insulating properties, but if you live in a humid area, you’ll have to watch for rot.  Vinyl is an increasingly common option not only because of its price, but also because of its energy efficiency.  This efficiency largely depends on how well it’s installed, though, so make sure you have a trusted professional completing the job.  There are also aluminum windows that are recommended for warmer coastal area due to their wind resistance.  In terms of heat retention, however, they rank lowest out of the three options.

You can also customize how much light and heat you want to allow in and out (respectively).  A window’s U-value corresponds to its ability to insulate.  The lower the U-value, the lower that model’s average heat loss.  Another factor to pay attention to is the visible transmittance (VT), which deals with how much light the windows let through into your home.  A higher VT usually means a sunnier space.

Each customization frequently comes with its own cost, so be sure you’re working with a professional who can advise you on the needs of your specific house, while considering your budget.  At Custom Build Maryland, we’re happy to serve as your consultants!