One of the many questions I get asked a lot…. “Is there a way to improve the performance of my existing windows so I don’t have to pay for new ones?” The answer is YES. There are several reasons for this statement being true. Part of it has to do with the window itself and part has to do with the original installation.
Newer windows are more efficient because they have tighter seals, are made from materials that conduct less heat, have more than one pane of glass (that has inert gas injected between them), and have a low-e coating (reduces solar heat gain). All windows, new or old, are installed in a rough opening in the wall that leaves a gap between the window frame and the house framing.
So how do we get the existing windows to perform like newer ones? Over time, the seals on windows get old and break down and most of the original seals are cheap. All of the seals can be replaced with newer higher quality seals to make them tight. Most windows in existing homes in our area are wood. There is not a huge difference in the conduction rates of the old wood windows and new vinyl ones. Besides, higher end replacement windows are made of…….WOOD. Next, glass has an R-value of less than 1, so going from one pane to two (even with the gas filling) only increases the R-value of the glass to about R-4. Imagine how much glass surface there is in your house. Next, there have been great improvements in window films, so you can now have low-e (low emissivity) films applied to your existing windows that are clear and don’t affect the visual quality of the glass.
Finally and most importantly, if the gap in between the frame of the window and the frame of the house is not sealed properly, NO WINDOW will perform well. This is not accomplished by simply applying a bead of caulk to the trim. If the interior trim is removed to gain access to that gap, low expansion spray foam can be applied to air seal that gap. If you want more specific information on windows, read this previous series.
So yes, you can improve the performance of existing windows and reduce the costs from around $400 a window, to less than $200. Multiply that times the number of windows you have in your home and it adds up really quick. In my home that would be a savings of nearly $5,000. Unless you are VERY handy and have the time, this one is best left to a professional.
If you would like more information about this subject, please leave a comment or question below. You can also contact me directly @ JonL@theNRGguy.com, through my website, or via my Facebook page. Remember…..Don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper.