Improving Window Performance: Page 5 of 8

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Improving Window Performance
Shades, shutters, films, quilts, and more can give your old windows improved energy performance without breaking your budget.
Installing window films
Installing window films without leaving bubbles can be tricky—it’s usually a job best left to professionals.
New window putty
New window putty helps seal a window pane and minimize air leakage.
Fitting exterior storm windows
Fitting exterior storm windows in preparation for colder weather is often a rite of fall.
Operable awnings - open
Operable awnings can provide summer shade, yet be retracted for winter solar access, wind protection, or to avoid snow accumulation.
Operable awnings - closed
Operable awnings can provide summer shade, yet be retracted for winter solar access, wind protection, or to avoid snow accumulation.
Hinged shutters
These hinged shutters also have adjustable slats to let in some light and view.
Roller shutters
Roller shutters can provide effective shading and some ventilation.
Installing an interior glazing panel
Interior glazing panels are an inexpensive way to boost a home’s energy performance without compromising its architectural integrity.
Quilted window covering
Quilted window coverings and their valances can provide an attractive method to reduce heat loss through windows.
Insulated cellular shades
Insulated cellular shades contain multiple layers that produce a honeycomb-like structure that can add from R-1 to R-4 to a window’s thermal performance.
Improving Window Performance
Installing window films
New window putty
Fitting exterior storm windows
Operable awnings - open
Operable awnings - closed
Hinged shutters
Roller shutters
Installing an interior glazing panel
Quilted window covering
Insulated cellular shades

Retractable awnings offer the advantage of easy operability and stowing during windstorms that could cause damage. Typically, the fabric rolls up into a valance at the top of the window, keeping it out of the way when not in use. Motorized controls are available for some higher-end retractable awnings. Awnings can also be installed over decks and patios to create shaded outdoor living space during the summer.

Benefits

  • Blocks most solar heat gain while maintaining much of the view
  • Controls glare
  • Reduces UV damage to home interiors
  • May enhance building’s appearance
  • Directs rain away from the window
  • Maintains window egress

Drawbacks

  • Customization needed for optimum performance in some cases, particularly for fixed awnings
  • May negatively affect aesthetics
  • If deep enough to block most direct solar heat gain on east and west, may block more daylight and view than desired (adjustable awnings may be better)

Aesthetics

  • Highly variable, depending on house style and homeowner tastes
  • Wide variety of colors, materials, and configurations available

Tips & Cautions

  • During design and sizing of awnings, use computer modeling to show shading patterns on the windows throughout the day and seasons
  • If you’re living in a condominium or historic district, check for possible restrictions on the installation of awnings
  • With fixed awnings, removal may be advisable before storms to prevent damage (retractable awnings need to be retracted)

When To Consider

  • Glare is a significant issue
  • Climate results in unwanted solar heat gain through large glazing area

Cost

  • About $200 per window for an average-quality fixed awning; $375 for retractable awnings

Comments (7)

Edgar Zeitler's picture

Quick overnight response from these folks to my email inquiry about vertical blind slats.

Edgar Zeitler's picture

A very interesting product indeed, the videos on their website are informative. Just requested a quote for their vertical blind slats.

Robert Crosby's picture

I didn't see mention of a product called "solarize inflector", which looks interesting. It appears to be a reversible window insert that either passes or rejects radiant heat flow depending on which way it is turned.

Wondering if anyone here has experience with this product. Their youtube videos look impressive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Y...

Michael Welch's picture

Seems like a brand new product that might not even be available yet. The product's web site sure doesn't work.

Edgar Zeitler's picture

While living in Maryland I covered half my windows in each room with aluminum screen frames covered with clear heat shrink. The rest of the windows were covered with 1" styrofoam panels. Both installed inside. Really reduced heating costs even tho my windows were all double glazed with low E treatment. Easy to store between use.

IndowWindows's picture

Thank you for this informative article! There are so many other options than window replacements and I hate seeing those beautiful old windows go into landfills. Alternatives are more eco-friendly and can be just as efficient as a replacement. Save those historic windows!

samuel chamberlain's picture

One option which is not mentioned is the use of bubble wrap , this of cause is only suitable for out buildings or where the need for improved performance out weighs aesthetics . whilst it can be stuck to glass with water I have found that fixing to the frame is better as this cuts down on air leakage . The bubble wrap can be ripped/cut in case of emergency exit .

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