Replacing inefficient old windows will cut down on energy costs, making your home more comfortable and lowering your utility bills. However, a window replacement is a substantial expense and may not pay for itself in energy savings.
There are alternative methods of cutting energy costs that don’t require replacing your windows. These include storm windows and adding weather stripping.
Decaying Window Frames
Whether you are looking to increase your home’s value or improve its energy efficiency, replacing your windows is the best option. Old windows let in cold air and cause drafts that drive up your utility bills.
Wooden window frames degrade over time due to moisture exposure. This can lead to rot that can damage the integrity of your walls. If you see signs of rotting, it’s time to consider replacement.
Old windows lack insulation, which lets in drafts and causes your energy bills to skyrocket. Newer replacement windows are designed to prevent air from transferring in and out of your home, which can lower your heating and cooling costs.
Old windows often have single-pane glass, which is less energy efficient than double-pane windows with argon gas and low-emissivity (LoE) coating. These advances can help reduce your home’s energy consumption and significantly lower your heating and cooling costs. This will save you money in the long run and protect the environment.
If water spots appear on the wall around a window and paint bubbles or flakes are peeling it could indicate that there is an opening that allows moisture into your home. This can happen due to faulty installation, old caulking that has deteriorated, or even the structure of your house above the windows if the overhangs are not angled correctly to keep water flowing away from your walls.
Leaking windows are a sign that moisture is getting into your home, leading to issues such as mold and mildew that can be hazardous for the health of your family. Moisture seepage can also cause structural damage to your home’s framing and drywall. This is especially important if your home is made of wood, as the continuous infusion of moisture can lead to the growth of fungus and rot. Identifying leaky windows early on can help prevent costly and time-consuming repairs. Check to make sure your windows have drain holes near the bottom edge of their frames and that the sill is pitched downward.
Fog and Condensation
Foggy windows aren’t just unsightly—they can lead to moisture buildup, mold, mildew, and staining of the drywall around the window. Eventually, this leads to high humidity levels in the home and may cause health problems for people who have asthma or allergies.
Modern energy efficient windows use dual- or triple-pane glass with inert gas between them to reduce thermal transfer and improve air and water insulation. They also have better rubber seals that are designed to prevent moisture from escaping inside your home.
Older windows have single-pane glass that doesn’t reduce thermal transfer, so they have a higher rate of condensation and leakage. Additionally, older caulking often breaks down over time, and this allows moisture to seep into the window and cause fogging. Also, fire logs have a high moisture content from being stored outside prior to being burned in your fireplace, which can disperse that moisture into the window panes. When this happens, it’s time to replace your windows.
While many homeowners attempt to increase the energy efficiency of their historic windows by adding insulated glass units, this often results in poor insulation and little return on the investment. This is due to the fact that the insulating value of an aging window diminishes with each use and over time, even when the weather stripping remains in place.
The best solution for energy efficient windows is to replace the old single-pane windows with new double or triple pane insulated windows. This will eliminate air seepage and provide better insulation, helping to reduce energy bills.
If you are looking to keep your existing windows in place, try applying an all-over application of caulk around the frames and sash to improve the seal and eliminate drafts. Also, make sure the sash locks are tight and the weights are properly hung so they open and close smoothly. Lastly, add or renew the weather stripping as this helps to greatly reduce the amount of air that enters and exits the window.