For com­fort and en­ergy sav­ings, ad­dress those drafty win­dows

Medicine Hat News - - HOME & GARDEN - TRACEE M. HERBAUGH

There are plenty of rea­sons to fix or re­place win­dows, but win­try tem­per­a­tures push many home­own­ers to get the job done.

Be­sides the dis­com­fort they cause, drafty win­dows can add hun­dreds of dol­lars to your en­ergy bill over the course of a win­ter.

“A great test is to hold a lighted match, or even bet­ter a stick of old­fash­ioned in­cense, near the win­dow and watch the flame,” said Danny Lip­ford, a home im­prove­ment ex­pert and host of the syn­di­cated TV and ra­dio show To­day’s Home­owner with Danny Lip­ford. “If it flick­ers, then you know your win­dow does not have a tight seal and is al­low­ing cold air to creep in.”

You have a few op­tions for fix­ing those drafty win­dows.

Some are in­ex­pen­sive, easy steps that any home­owner can do to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of win­dows, Lip­ford said. For in­stance, there are roll-on win­dow in­su­la­tion kits that in­clude durable plas­tic sheets that at­tach to win­dow cas­ings and cre­ate a bar­rier of trapped air. These prod­ucts, which cost about $5 to $7 per win­dow, keep out drafts. An added ben­e­fit is that you can re­move them at the end of the sea­son.

An­other op­tion is seal­ing cracks or crevices with la­tex caulk­ing, which will han­dle the win­dow’s ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion with chang­ing tem­per­a­tures. If you have larger cracks, you may need to opt for ex­pand­able foam.

If you en­list a con­trac­tor, get two to three es­ti­mates, said Steve Walowitz, owner of NuCon­cepts, a win­dow re­pair and re­con­struc­tion busi­ness in the Chicago sub­urb of North­brook.

Con­sider not just your bud­get but the cli­mate where you live, your home value and the age of the house, among other things.

Walowitz said a win­dow’s in­stal­la­tion is just as im­por­tant as the prod­uct, if not more so. The high­est qual­ity re­place­ment win­dow may be in­stalled poorly, and you’ll still have drafty win­dows.

For older homes, restor­ing win­dows to their for­mer glory is worth ex­plor­ing.

“A win­dow re­place­ment has a life span of 10 to 20 years,” said Chris Ful­lan, a his­toric win­dow restora­tion ex­pert and owner of For­ever Hung Win­dows in Philadel­phia. “His­toric win­dows are a su­pe­rior prod­uct. They’ve stood the test of time.”

A win­dow restora­tion, Ful­lan said, is of­ten a bit more ex­pen­sive than re­place­ment win­dows. With restora­tion, reg­u­lar main­te­nance is re­quired. And since the orig­i­nal glass is sin­glepane, a storm win­dow is needed to help keep frigid tem­per­a­tures out.

When Aaron and Tracy Ca­hall moved into their Bel Air, Mary­land, home in 2013, they knew that re­plac­ing the orig­i­nal win­dows — 17 in to­tal — was a pri­or­ity. The colo­nial home, built in 1968, had en­dured decades of East Coast win­ters with sin­gle-pane glass, and were not only drafty but flak­ing paint.

“They were drafty in the win­ter, and let in heat dur­ing the sum­mer,” said Aaron Ca­hall, 36.

The cou­ple started last month by re­plac­ing four of the win­dows, in their chil­dren’s bed­rooms. The cost to­talled roughly $2,000 for four mid­dle-grade win­dows.

“We’ve only had the win­dows in for a few days, but I think there’s a dif­fer­ence,” Aaron said. “The room tem­per­a­tures seem a bit more com­fort­able, though we won’t know whether we’re sav­ing any money from in­creased ef­fi­ciency for a while.”

One im­me­di­ate im­prove­ment is a re­duc­tion of noise from pass­ing cars and oc­ca­sional loud sounds from the street.

Fix­ing your home’s win­dows can also add money to a home’s value.

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