Negative Effects of Poorly Insulated Windows in the Winter

Windows account for as much as 30% of heating and cooling loss. Poorly insulated windows can contribute to even higher losses. Windows have an expiration date, just like other common household items, appliances, and structures. 

Windows are expected to last anywhere from 15 to 30 years before a new window installation is recommended. However, this doesn’t mean that they might not need replacement sooner than that. If you are wondering what the detriments are for poorly insulated windows, then keep reading on. 

Window Types

It is helpful to know about different window types to better understand how they contribute to energy loss in the wintertime. Back in the day, the standard window was a single-pane or single glaze.

Nowadays, single-pane windows are more common in older buildings, and double-pane or triple-pane windows are the go-to methods. During the process of constructing double or triple pane windows, each pane is spaced evenly apart and sealed together. 

There are also options to add in low-emissivity coatings. This metal coating is added to your new windows on either one or more panes. While it raises your initial costs, it can reduce energy loss by up to 50%

For a better winter window, gas fillers and spacers are also commonly used for insulation. Gas fillers typically use argon or krypton gas. Depending on the route you opt for, a qualified technician fills the gas between the spaces of your window panes.

This helps to reduce heat loss and provide additional insulation. When deciding between the two, krypton tends to have a higher price tag but provides better insulation. It is also more conducive to panes that have less space between them. 

Additionally, the type of frame that you have makes a difference in heat loss during the wintertime. For instance, aluminum frames do a poor job at insulating and work better when you add insulation strips. 

Vinyl and fiberglass frames tend to have better results when looking at overall insulation. If you have wood frames, they also have decent insulation. On average, wood frames require more upkeep than their other counterparts. 

Single Pane vs. Double Pane

Cost plays one of the largest factors for many people when deciding between a single-pane and double-pane window. Single-pane windows run much cheaper at around $50 per window or more.  

On the contrary, double-pane windows can cost as much as $400 per window. This is where the benefits of single-pane windows end. If you live in a very mild and temperate environment, you can get away with single-pane windows. 

This is especially true if you live in a region that has cold winters. For that reason, the best winter window tip would be to upgrade to a double or triple-pane window. Sometimes, it is hard to get all of your windows replaced before the cold weather hits. 

That poses the following question – how to insulate single pane windows for winter? 

Window Insulation for Winter

The first thing to do when trying to better insulate your windows is to assess if it needs new caulking. Caulking sometimes needs replacing even after just a couple of years. This is an easy fix and you should regularly check your caulking to see if it is the issue.

There are a few different types of caulking that work better for different materials. Water-based caulk is best for windows that have less than 1/4 inch around it or when there are cracks. Silicone caulking is better used for metal or glass. 

If you are approaching winter, then consider applying weatherstrips. You can apply weatherstrips mostly anywhere in your window. You can even apply weather strips in your garage to eliminate drafts.

The same goes for your windows. You should target areas that you notice drafts coming in. Just remember – you can’t open your windows with weatherstripping unless you remove it first. 

Drafts are one of the signs that you need better window insulation as well as higher energy bills. If you are unsure about the state of your windows, an expert technician can help you out. 

Highly Insulated Windows

In recent times, windows are constantly being redesigned to try and curb energy losses and maintain stable temperatures in the home. An R-value is a determinant of how energy-efficient your windows are.

The higher the R-value, the more energy-efficient your windows are. Some companies are stating that customers should look for an R-value of at least a five. 

This is a bit harder to come by and most energy-efficient standards rank quality windows with at least an R-value of a three. If you have windows with a greater R-value, you can decrease heat loss by as much as 50%.  

Some of the best windows under this category are triple-pane windows. These triple-pane windows also have gas fills, spacers, and low-E coatings. As technology improves, it is likely you will see the standard for R-values increase.

Gas Fills

Gas fills are an important part of maintaining proper insulation and are advised for homes that are located in colder regions. Gas fills combined with low-E coatings is a standard that most companies are turning towards. 

While it might seem intimidating – gas fills are not harmful to the environment or people residing in your house. You can also rest assured that the gases used are odorless.

In a nutshell, the gas that is filled between window panes acts as a barrier between the outside and inside air. 

This process leads to less air convection which reduces the total amount of heat lost from inside your house in the winter. Yet, gas fills aren’t completely full proof. On average, 1% of gas is lost from window panes each year.

However, research is showing that gas fills are still effective at 80% capacity. This means that you shouldn’t have to replace your gas fills until your entire windows need replacing. 

Window Installation

Are you considering upgrading your windows? New windows contribute to decreased heat loss in prep for the upcoming cold months. If you notice that you have poor insulation and DIY projects at home haven’t helped, then call on the experts.

Contact us today and let one of our skilled team members come to take a look at your windows to make sure you’re ready for wintertime. 


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