Windows can be major sources of heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. One way to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to replace your old windows with new, energy-efficient windows. However, if you’re on a tight budget, a less expensive option is to use storm windows. Some types of storm windows are also a good option for those living in apartments.
While they do not significantly increase the insulation performance of single-glazed glass windows in good condition, field studies show they can decrease air infiltration out of and into existing windows.
Types of Storm Windows
Storm windows are available for most types of windows. They can be installed on the interior or exterior of the primary window. They can be made from plastic sheets or films designed for one heating season, to triple-track glass units with low emissivity coatings that offer many years of use.
Interior storm windows are more convenient because they can be removed and installed. Interior storm windows can also, provide an insulating sound barrier between the outside elements and the interior of your home. They are the best choice for multi-floor houses and apartment buildings. Many manufactures are now offering inside storm windows with UV protection coating. This coating significantly reduces the amount of harmful UV light from entering your home.
Exterior storm windows are not as efficient in keeping out air, more difficult to remove and install, and more expensive than interior storm windows.
Glass vs. Plexiglass
1 – Visibility:
Glass pane types offer better visibility and longer life than plastic pane types, but glass is heavy and fragile. Acrylic filters ultraviolet light. While yellowing used to be a problem with Plexiglass, improvements have eliminated its instability and yellowing
2 – Durability:
Glass pane types are heavy and fragile. Plastic panels, such as Plexiglass and acrylics are tougher and lighter than glass, but may scratch easily. However, scratches can be buffed out of Plexiglass, whereas glass windows remain scratched and may need to be replaced.
3 – Price and Installation:
Plexiglass is more economical and relatively easy to install. However, no matter what type you choose, the storm window frame must be hung square with the primary window and sealed to the opening. You should also consider the fact that they should be easy to move to allow for cleaning and ventilation.
Exterior-mounted storm windows must have “weep holes” at the bottom of the frame to allow any moisture that collects between the primary window and the storm window to drain out.
4 – Special Considerations:
Plexiglass is the material of choice for oddly shaped storm windows because it can be cut into any shape easily. Because of its high impact strength and non-shattering qualities, it is safer than glass where severe weather can cause damage.
Plexiglas panes are also considerably less expensive than their glass counterparts.
Homeowners should avoid installing acrylic or Plexiglass interior storm windows near large heat sources such as fireplaces and ovens.
Plastic window insulation film kits are ideal for those seeking a temporary and more cost effective solution.