Improving Window Performance: Page 7 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

When To Consider

Exterior Window Shades & Shutters

  • Hot climates where there is unwanted solar gain (particularly east- and west-facing windows)
  • Shading, view, and ventilation are desired

Exterior Roller & Hinged Shutters

  • Security is a high priority
  • Storm protection is a priority

Cost

  • Huge variation: from as little as $25 for DIY Velcro-applied screens to more than $350 for custom, motorized roller shades and shutters

Interior Glazing Panels

Often referred to as “interior storm windows,” interior glazing panels are an inexpensive way to add a layer of glazing to a window to boost energy performance. They function much like exterior storm windows, except that they don’t provide additional protection against the elements. Most are designed to be removed in the summer, though some include operable panels on tracks.

Most interior glazing panels are lightweight with plastic glazing or clear plastic film. The most common glazings are acrylic (such as Plexiglas) or polycarbonate (such as Lexan). Polycarbonate is stronger than acrylic, but softer, so more scratch-prone. Acrylic now contains ultraviolet light inhibitors that slow yellowing. Glass is sometimes used and is the most durable, as long as it doesn’t get broken, but is also heavier. With glass, including a low-e coating may be possible, which will boost energy performance significantly (unfortunately, low-e often isn’t an option).

The frames are most commonly aluminum, but can be vinyl, wood, or steel. Steel frames may come with rubber-encased magnetic weatherstripping, for a tight seal to window frames or metallic strips added to the window casings. At least one manufacturer of interior glazing panels produces a double-glazed panel with thin plastic film stretched taught around a tubular aluminum frame. Do-it-yourself kits are available with frames and heat-shrink plastic film that is stretched taut over frames using a hair dryer.

For moisture management, it is preferable to have the inner layer of glazing be the most airtight, since this allows trapped moisture in the window system to escape. This is a benefit of tightly fitting interior glazing panels when the prime windows are old and leaky.

Benefits

  • Reduces heat loss and air flow through windows to improve comfort
  • Reduces risk of condensation if panels are tight-fitting
  • Helps dampen outdoor sound transmission
  • Usually relatively low-cost

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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